Religion & Beliefs

What Flavor of New Jew Are You?

At a glance, there really aren’t that many "movements" in Judaism. Orthodox, reform, reconstructionist and conservative. That’s pretty much it. Sure, there are some variations on this, but compared to the Christian world, Jews like to keep it simple. Or … Read More

By / July 3, 2009

At a glance, there really aren’t that many "movements" in Judaism. Orthodox, reform, reconstructionist and conservative. That’s pretty much it. Sure, there are some variations on this, but compared to the Christian world, Jews like to keep it simple.

Or do we?

I decided to jump into the proverbial rabbit-hole of Jewish Denominationalism and discovered that there are more ways of being Jewish than there ever have been before.

Secular-As-Balls:

You still don’t understand WHY Jews believe in G-d. Frankly, you think the whole "G-d Thing" is irrelevant. There’s nothing about being Jewish that requires religion, customs, beliefs, worship, a love for Israel or the Jewish People. But if anyone DARES to slam the Jewish People or pretend that the Holocaust didn’t happen, you’ll be the first to kick their ass. It’s like being an older brother: you can torture your siblings all you want to. But the minute some other kid tries to pick on your kid brother/sister, you’re going to pound them into the ground. You express your faith (or lack thereof) by reading Heeb Magazine and going to the opening of the new Jewish Museum in your neighborhood. Just try to avoid the rabbi at all costs!

See: anyone on the Tattoo Jew Facebook Group

Hippiedox:

The product of Orthodox or immigrant parents, you voted for Obama because he’s cool like the new iPhone. Your tone of voice moves between stoner and yiddishkeit, and your love for Matisyahu at times rivals the Lubavitcher Rebbe. You’re more comfortable at Whole Foods than you are around your conservative in-laws, but you still feel a sense of sadness when a non-kosher restaurant opens near your shul. Kabbalah is your favorite pastime, because it’s like being on a permanent acid trip.

See: Shemspeed, FrumSatire and "that guy" on the Birthright Israel trip.

 

Chabad-Could-It-Be: Thanks to Chabad’s supply chain of eager rabbis, your small town of approximately ten Jews just got an Orthodox shul. Too bad for you that you have a shaved head, love bacon and still don’t know what a mezzuzah is. But because you feel a cultural connection to Judaism, you decide to start attending services. You really hate the religio-political attitude of Chabadniks, but because this movement offers you the "real" Judaism that you cannot muster for yourself, you keep going back as an atonement for all the Friday nights you spent playing X-Box instead of reading the Good Book.

See: any Jew living west of the Mississippi river and east of Phoenix, Arizona.

 

Trans(gender) Denominational: You’re an activist within Judaism. You want to reform (no pun intended) every corner of the Jewish World. Your obsession with Tikkun Olam really has nothing to do repairing the world as a whole, but instead concentrating on key issues within Judaism. Such examples include gay/lesbian rights, trans-inclusion, gender feminism, environmentalism and animal rights. You can’t settle on one shul because they just don’t address your "issues". Like a serial monogamist, you fall in love with one synagogue/rabbi and work the hell out of it until there is nothing left, then move onto another hot affair.

See: Union For Progressive Judaism, Barney Frank, and Kosherveg.com.

 

PolitiKosher: You love Israel. In fact, you’re IN LOVE with Israel. There’s something about the desert, the ruins, the graffiti and the bombs that just gives you this tingling feeling in your stomach. You think the Palestinians are secretly plotting your death and that if Netanyahu could just get his act together, the Messiah will surely come. Hopefully that person is you. Just in case, you’ve got your passport and a duffle bag filled with tallit ready to go.

See: Friends of the IDF, the Libi Fund and anyone wearing an "I Love The IDF" T-shirt.

 

Deconstructionist Judaism: Innovation is the tradition of the Jewish faith, and you are its greatest champion. You believe that G-d has a great sense of humor and personally marvels at your creative thinking skills. You pioneered such moments in Judaism as the chocolate seder, dog and cat bar mitzvahs, and menorahs hacked together from leftover Ikea stuff. You express your Judaism by taking Jewish ideas and making them better.

See: Moderntribe.com, Rabbi Laura Baum, Mel Brooks.

Many religions approach their movements like a ladder: the higher up you climb, the more "authentic" your faith. And generally speaking, the more conservative practice is usually what you’re striving for. Judaism has a motto of horizontally-intergrated faith. A belief that Judaism is not a climb to the top, but rather a continuum that you place yourself on. More liberal? Slide to the left! More Orthodox, then move to the right.

Judaism, for me, is more like a spider web. A spider web starts by having a few pillars to hold it together. From these platforms, the spider is able to weave its web to the center. The purpose: to catch what the spider needs in order to survive. If one of the pillars that the web is connected to simply cannot hold the web, then the creative little spider finds a new anchor. If someone breaks the web from the inside, then the spider repairs it, differently than it was originally created. Still, the web stays intact. And every spider web is different, just like everyone’s Judaism.