Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The sad, sad case of Sholom Auslander

Who is Sholom Auslander? Author of "Foreskin’s Lament" a memoir of growing up Jewish.

What's so sad about him? He's abandoned Jewish observances, but despite his best efforts to stop, he can't escape the thought patterns of a religious Jew. For example: "The people who raised me will say I am not religious,” he writes. “They are mistaken.” He adds "I am painfully, cripplingly, incurably, miserably religious, and I have watched lately, dumbfounded and distraught, as around the world, more and more people seem to be finding Gods, each more hateful and bloody than the next, as I’m doing my best to lose Him. I’m failing miserably.”

That's sad? Sounds a little pathetic to me. What's sad is that he wants to leave, but can't. That's a sad commentary on the sort of Jews, and the sort Judaism who shaped him. A different upbringing might have produced someone capable of taking the best Judaism has to offer, along with the ability to reject or reconcile or otherwise manage the ugliness and stupidity that crept in over the long exile.

Your point? Not incidentally, this is my main beef with the Internet Kofrim. Even if they are right about everything - the DH and the age of the universe and all the rest - I still want to practice the Judaism in which I was raised. I like being part of something old. I like being part of a community of like minded people. I like the songs and the poems and the prayers. I like the food. I like the familiarity of the rituals and the worldly benefits many of them deliver. I like being Jewish. It works for me -- even if many of the details are difficult.

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