Friday, May 26, 2006

Very Romantic
I remember being totally hell bent against Christianity. I realize now and then that this automatically filed and categorized me as “that sinful Jew” to members of the Christian faith, but my reaction to Christianity, you must see, what quite natural. It is noteworthy that I was not anti-Christian on the basis that, for example, your average American Gentile was. Their hostility towards Christianity is based on a pattern produced by generations of secularism and hatred of things religious; for the irreligious American, Christianity is symbolic of all religion and of G-d. For this reason I say that America is Christian.

I was a Jew that believed in G-d, and the connection that I had with Him, my religion, and my people, was real, but dormant, beaten, and hidden into submission. However, this process did not begin in my lifetime but sometime in the halls of what we call “history.” Jewish distancing from the religion of our fathers is no new thing, and I won’t even go into its origins for it is beyond the scope of this short piece. Suffice it to say that the process of a Jew distancing himself or herself from Judaism rolled with the times into the present and every American Jew removed from his or her tradition is both an old and a new testament to this unfortunate and inhumane “development.”

No, I believed in G-d, I believed in the “Jewish G-d.” However, like many disconnected Jews, my only dose of religion was through Christianity and if this religion was the representation of G-d, tempered by mine and my family’s relative ignorance of true Jewish living, then I wanted nothing to do with G-d. What a sad reason to abandon G-d! This is the unfortunate reality of many Jewish families and individuals in America, and I believe that this is one of the most prominent reasons for a phenomenon known as “secular Judaism.” It is the explicit and intended Jewish distancing from religious elements, although not necessarily from social, cultural, and humanitarian aspects. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore that Jewish distancing, i.e., assimilation, is an old Jewish pattern dating back thousands of years but marked more clearly by “easier to remember” events, such as the French Revolution and the Enlightenment of Europe. We cannot ignore that even though Anti-Semitism, hatred, and oppression were serious factors in these developments, ultimately it was Jewish people and families that made the decisions to leave the religion of their forefathers. The correlation between Anti-Semitism and assimilation is clear, strong, and historic, and wherever Jewish assimilation exists, even if existing in relatively benign forms in contrast to Europe, Anti-Semitism is not far.

Well-to-do Christians who by faith love the Jews and want nothing more than to save us from doom in the Afterlife compound our assimilation by seeking and targeting us for conversion. How are we expected to react to such a thing? Are we supposed to treat it as anything other than a spiritual onslaught, in contrast to the physical onslaughts of Christian Europe? Is it not better to die a physical death than a spiritual death? This is the reason for Jewish resistance, even secular Jewish resistance, towards Christianity. And Christians, at least the ignorant ones, mistake “these Jews” whom resist Christianity as individuals hopelessly closed-minded to the love, grace, and salvation that Jesus “has to offer you.” We have learned quite well what Christianity’s notion of “Jesus’ love” was and we see it all the better as our numbers continue to dwindle in the land of opportunity (to assimilate), in the melting (down) pot, in the land not of freedom of religion, but freedom from religion.

Christianity is a corrosive agent on the body of Judaism, and if Christians really love us, then they need to leave us alone! The youthful Jew that I was, being a male in high school and in emotional turmoil and intellectual confusion, I learned to hate Christianity. A Christian whom “so dearly loved me” spoke to me with a crooked smile as he or she tried to rob me of my identity, repeated angelic verses verbatim in a zombie-like state and referred to me as a “Hebrew” or an “Israelite” as they had the audacity to say that my people “were the chosen ones.” I agree with much of what they said, but on my terms, our terms, not theirs! When I resisted I was likened to the Jews in the Books of the Prophets who were guilty of rebelling from G-d. I was accused of charges two thousand years in the making, first resisting G-d and then His son! G-d had a son?! How could such a pagan tell me this to my face?! How could I not hate Christianity?! The irony of this served magnificently; I was told that Jesus taught forgiveness and that if I accepted him into my heart that my anger would go away – adult Christians told me this when I was as young as fifteen years old, those hate mongers! Every word I said “proved” Christianity’s most rancid stereotypes of Jews, I could not escape until I became educated. Every word in the common media about Judaism and the Torah is expressed with Christian tinting; I had to “sink” into the social “netherworlds” of true Judaism in order to find what it was really about. The pain was healed through my reconnection with my people. In this, without knowing, and later with, I began to fulfill the Torah’s conjunction to be part of the people “holy to G-d,” and would do it from beneath the waves. We are waiting to emerge.