Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Being a Jew Today

I was glad to see that the DC Dispatches blog for Al Jazeera English ran a post about the fact that the protesters in the anti-Netanyahu rally outside AIPAC, where he was giving his speech, included Jews. I also appreciated that the unnamed author post took the time to interview Jews that were inside listening to Benjamin Netanyahu's speech. One of them was Rabbi Eric Solomon of the Beth Meyer Synagogue in North Carolina. One particular quote from Solomon, however, stuck in my craw: "to be a Jew today - an active, proud Jew - means to be a Zionist."

I have never been a serious practitioner of Judaism. Indeed, I have been calling myself an atheist for several decades. However, since I was born Jewish, I think I have learned a thing or two about what it means "to be a Jew;" and my disagreement with Solomon may be representative of why I no longer with to have anything to do with any organized religion. The bottom line is that "to be a Jew" comes down to living by the precepts of the Old Testament; and, if one is very serious about this, one will take into account the considerable lore of how the text should be interpreted, involving the observations of rabbis going all the way back to the Babylonian Captivity.

Now I suppose that being a Zionist may involve accepting the text from Genesis citing the extent of the land that God granted to Abraham. However, much of the Old Testament involves that old adage, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." Over the historical period covered by the Old Testament, land was gained, and land was lost. Furthermore, there are Old Testament stories that illustrate that battles lost often had to do with God punishing the Israelites for their pride. Apparently, these are portions that Solomon does not spend much time (if any) reading.

As a result, I side with the protestors on the outside, who collectively probably know more about Judaism than all of the AIPAC members on the inside.

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