Monday, June 20, 2005

Labels are for clothing and food, not people

While Jack sort of beat me to it, I still had been planning on writing this post for a while, I just wasn't able to get it out. The title line is something that I've loved for a long time. Yes, it's a line. Mostly used by all kinds of outreach centers, but I still like it. I think it is one of those things that can't be said any simpler. The more people fight to be different, the more we always see we're the same. We have the same struggles with the make up of our schools, the same politics in our Kiddush Clubs, or Shul President boards, the same fund raising hardships, the same people who talk in the backs of your temples, and my shteebles. Trust me on that one.

What's a Label? Well, let's ask the Answer people:
la·bel ('bəl)
  1. An item used to identify something or someone, as a small piece of paper or cloth attached to an article to designate its origin, owner, contents, use, or destination.
  2. A descriptive term; an epithet.
  3. A distinctive name or trademark identifying a product or manufacturer, especially a recording company.
An item used to identify something or someone, well, we are all Jews, that we know. We don't a label to tell us that.
When I was in the Chabad House back in my younger days. I often saw this interaction occur.

Someone would come into the building, and be interested in attending the class the Rabbi was giving on the Torah portion of the week. Listening intently, but not asking any questions, when the class concluded the Rabbi would ask the person on their way out if they wanted to come again, if they enjoyed it, if they wanted to come to a service. Many times the answer would be. I can't I'm not orthodox, or I can't I'm reform. Or the most popular "I'm not affiliated with any branch of Judaism, I'm not ready to join one yet"

It hurt me to hear that, cause it meant ages of separatism in our religion gave birth to the notion that you have to be "part of a certain group" in order to participate in something as holy as praying to G-d.

I am will admit though, that the difference in our customs make certain to limit our interaction with certain activities. Such as say, Shabbos customs. I think civil people can agree to disagree on certain things, and have an understanding that those differences will remain. I am not gonna convince you anything is wrong with Reform or Conservative Judaism, and you're not gonna convince me vice versa. These institutions are here, and people are different on all levels, no matter if it's parenting, cooking, or praying. That's what makes us all human. Our ability to be different.

But there are many way's in which by respecting our religious differences, we can still come to understand our singular Jewish soul. Which pushes us to do what we do in our temples, synagogues, shuls and shteebles.

When Jack wrote this post, in the comments you started talking about what we could do. Big programs are great, talking is also a great first step. This blog is a good way to get regular folk like you and me conversing about topics just like this.

One thing I think we can all do, and this isnt hard at all. We need to just come to terms with agreeing to disagree. It's like a marriage. We are in this together, for the long term. We all want the same things, and we're in the same boat.

Still, we're different, we do things different, we think different, we act different. We need to respect each other, talk to each other, and sometimes even more important than talking, learn to LISTEN to each other.

1 comment:

Jack Steiner said...

Learning to listen is important. I am not always good about it, but I am happy to admit it.