There is an event coming up that has seemed to have caused some controversy among a few people. Before I continue I should give you a little background of where I am coming from. I am an orthodox Jew and in our religion there are different types of “religion”.
2) Machmir (MO)
3) Modern Orthodox (liberal)
4) Chasidish (Hasidim)
There are a few more but I want to focus on the top 3.
So this week is the Nine Days which is a sad time in Jewish History and it all leads up to the Fast of Av which, like Yom Kippur, is a sad day for the Jews and is spent in prayer and mourning. This lasts for 25 hrs. But during noon the next day, everything returns to normal as such, people want to get away that weekend (Sabbath) to celebrate our victory to show that once again we preserved and grew stronger.
Which brings me to the topic at hand. The events I mentioned above. There are, as far as I know, 4 different events taking place at the same time in different locations. All but 2 cater to all types of Jews. The other caterers to the medical field and the other one caterers to number 2 (The all Machmir Frum Group) and this is the one I am going to discuss in detail. While I have already discussed this with a few people, I’ve never actually written down how I really feel and it’s really hard to remain silent on an issue like this and while I’d like to say I don’t want to offend or insult anyone, I believe that that ship sailed a long time ago.
What does it mean to be an Orthodox Jew exactly? Well to me it means being shomer shabbos, keeping kosher and doing the mitzvos that were given to us by G-D. Now I don’t claim to be perfect. I’m far from it but when you see an event advertised and says it’s for group #2 only (see above link) and excludes everyone else, that is, to me discrimination. What you are saying is this:” You are not religious or frum enough for this group nor do you meet the qualifications for it”. Let’s ponder that for a second…. The event committee is deciding my religious faith for me thinking they know what I or any of us want. I mean seriously you think you know the girl/guy we want better then we do? Are you saying that my level of religion is no good? Correct me if I’m wrong but shouldn’t we the individual have a say?
I am sad to say this but in the Jewish world, our lives are dictated by our “leaders” and there are those who live by their word. What also is a shame is that we aren’t defined by who we are as a person but by a label and last I checked labels belonged on clothing and food not humans. So if you don’t fit a certain label then you don’t belong . But is this right? Nope but sadly there’s nothing we can do to fix that. Come to think of it, this is one reason why Orthodox Jews wander astray from the religion.
When God gave us the commandments he didn’t say okay those who are really religious and in between stand here to receive the Torah and those who are Modern please move to the side. The commandments were given to everyone even to those who were not yet born. A Jew is a Jew no matter what and when you tell people they can’t come because they do not fit the criteria, well that is offensive.. Again, what right do you have to say to X or Y that they aren’t religious enough? Why are we separating our fellow Jews from each other?
I had no idea that the Jewish religion was one of “Big Brother” where if there’s a certain type of person there you won’t go. Really? So if your husband/wife is at this event you will lose out on him/her? What makes you think G-d will give you another opportunity to meet them? If you are talking to someone for 24 hrs straight and the conversation is great, you are enjoying each other’s company and so on. Suddenly it’s Saturday Night and you’re getting ready for that evening’s extravaganza when you see them come back down wearing a tank top and Jeans and now you are no longer interested in them… Are you for real? Seriously? Because of how they are dressed you no longer have interest? Why should that matter? If everything else went perfect then why should clothing be a deal breaker? Are we that shallow? We, myself included, are all hypocrites but we need to change. It is written that we have to love our fellow Jews but how can we when we are turned away. By turning us away that ain’t love that’s “hate”.
The irony is that the point of this weekend is to celebrate and enjoy after the tragedy that was the Nine Days and Tisha b’av and the reason the Temple was destroyed was because of our hatred through this: Kamtza and Bar Kamtza: The Story of Tisha B’Av. And now, thousands of years later, the exact same thing is happening and no one even realizes it. We are our own worst enemy.
This is a discussion that should be discussed openly and freely without any repercussions but the problem is that people are fraid to do so for whatever reason. So when you get a weekend that caters to all Jews young and old, we go because we know that we are being accepted with open arms for who we are and for what we believe in. We don’t have to pretend to live a lie or be in this facade that isn’t true. The good thing about being an individual is that we can think for ourselves. We know what we want and need and if we don’t, we search within us to figure it out. As a Jew, we should be accepted wherever we go no matter how we practice and let our journey to find our better half lead us on the right path instead of being turned away by those who’ve already chose it for us. The only one who can choose for us and decide what our wants and needs are are that of Hashem (G-D) and our parents who teach us what it means to be a Jew. They teach us what’s right and wrong and most importantly they allow us to choose our own destiny and while we will make mistakes along the way, we get right up and continue because mistakes is how we learn.
But when you label people you are no better then the Nazis and as long as you continue to offend, insult and discriminate against you’re fellow brothers and sisters, then we will never see Moshiach (Messiah) or the temple be rebuilt and those of us who are being turned away cry for you, pray for you in hopes that one day all Jews can live together and peace and harmony regardless of religious level. At Sinai we were all accepted as one nation and I pray that one day we can all live like that again without any hatred among us.