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Choosing my religion, Part II

aaronbenedict is gone again, observing two days of technological blackout for the final two days of Passover. It felt like as soon as we were able to talk to each other again, he had to say goodbye. We talked about that yesterday -- about religious observance. I thought about how many days he must take off from work in a year and I asked: If we were together, if I were his wife, would I have to take those days off as well?

The answer was yes.

Truth be told, if I hadn't expected the answer to be a reassuring "no," I don't think I would have asked the question.

Shavuot. Sukkot. Shemini Atzeret. Simchat Torah. All of those holidays that I never observed, even when I did still believe. Heck, with the single exception of Sukkot, I couldn't even tell you what those holidays are. But from Shavuot to not one, not two, but four (out of eight) days of Passover, the expectation is that I would observe these holidays.

In his defense, he then clarified that I would not be required to observe so much as that it would be meaningful to him to observe with me. It's important to him to observe with family, with the people that he loves, and I get that. But it also worries me.

I don't believe in God. My days of superstitiously replacing the "o" with a dash (you Yids know what I mean) came and went with adolescence. I believe that nearly all religion (with the single exception of religions of personal growth, like Buddhism) serves two purposes: to scare kids into obeying their parents, and to scare adults out of having sex indiscriminately.

I remember distinctly talking about "myths" in first and second grade, and our teacher telling us about the silly polytheistic religions people "used" to believe in (nevermind that at least two of my peers in that school were most likely Hindu). Judaism and Christianity were "religions"; everything else was "mythology." It took me decades to really understand that it's all mythology -- that what my parents taught me is just as bullshit as what Catholic children are taught, or what Muslim children are taught, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

I will gladly concede that there's every chance that I may be wrong. I don't know -- and that's kind of the point. To me, anarqueso got it right when she commented "For me, being Jewish isn't a set of behaviors or rituals. It's just being part of a long story, most of which is unknown to me." There are a handful of observances and rituals that make me feel connected to this "long story," but, other than that, most observances feel foreign and arbitrary. It's like when you go to the wedding of somebody whose religion you don't share, and then there's a religious part of the ceremony, and the folks who are that religion all know exactly what to do, and you're standing there thinking "um ... OK ... what just happened?"

I very much want to be with this man, but I very much don't want to be a part of organized religion, and I'm not quite sure what to do about any of this.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 15th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
I don't have any answers, but it's good that you are thinking about this.
Apr. 15th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
Is compromise an option? Are there holidays you would be more willing to observe with him than others? Would he understand if you didn't observe _all_ or any of them?
Apr. 15th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
From what I gather, he would be intellectually OK with that, but would still feel hurt/slighted/sad about it. Which, you know, is not really a way I enjoy to make him feel. :(
Apr. 15th, 2009 08:11 pm (UTC)
Perhaps making up your own holidays or means of celebrating established holidays that you would be comfortable with would be a means of showing that you do care and would alleviate or lessen any hurt he might feel? Plus it would be something special that only the two of you share.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 15th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
You may be a great many things, my dear, but "full of shit" has never (in my experience) been one of them. :)
Apr. 18th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
what about creating compromises in HOW you would observe those holidays? like, he takes the day off work or not use technology or whatever it is that he does, and you continue doing whta you like but like, only in a certain room of the house where he doesn't go? like the whole house, except for the one room, is observant? and then like you could have special meals together and do the candles and light the blessings, and you could occasionally go with him to shul but not everytime, and you could continue to work if you wanted. i think it would be unfair of him to expect you to completely change just like it would be unfair of you to expect him to completely change. you have to find a way to meet in the middle where you would both be ok with it, intellectually and honestly. he should, emotionally, recognize that you are not ok intellectually with becoming an hyper-observant jew, and i think if he really respects YOUR beliefs as much as you respects HIS, he shouldn't expect you to come all the way over to his side.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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