Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Jews talk about

During my brief and recent involvement with the Abraham's Tent Interfaith Facebook Group, I have learned that Jews are far more concerned about petty details than Muslims - or at least the Jews who are inclined to participate in the interfaith discussions hosted by this particular group are far more concerned about petty details than their Muslim counterparts.

Ask a question about Muslim observances, and you'll generally get one answer, or perhaps a brief discussion about regional differences. Ask about a Jewish observance and you can expect hundreds of comments discussing every possible in and every possible out.

The other day, two group members met and posted a double selfie. The Jew was wearing Jewish clothing: a Breslaver kippa, white shirt and visible arba kanfot. The Muslim was in a tunic of some kind and a Bukharin cap. We asked for explanations, but none of the Muslim members seemed able or willing to discuss what the tunic or cap signaled - if anything - or what scriptural verses or interpretations made them necessary, or how the garments developed historically. But we Jews went to work on what our guy was wearing. For two days we hammered away about varieties of techayles, the different things different styles of kippa say about the wearer, the types of knots people put in their tzitzis and more. Is it because Judaism is so much older than Islam?

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