One of the largest non-hurdles for the person who has recently left the church and isn’t converting to Judaism but believes in it’s principles is the new ‘label’.
‘what do you call that?’, ‘what are you now?’.
It’s never easy and I confess I’ve used various titles while I’ve been on this walk, changing my mind often. I could outline that journey here but after some thought, I figure the conclusions I’ve come to will be much more helpful.
I said at the top of the post, ‘non-hurdles’ because it really is one of the smallest and most pointless things to concentrate on. I know I wasted a lot of thought and a lot of arguments on it. The conversation is still going on.
One thing we have to remember before we go on is that we, as humans, are MUCH more comfortable naming things than having them named for us. If you are German you don’t call yourself ‘German’ in your native tongue. A french person wouldn’t call my home country ‘England’ in the local news. English as a language has names for everyone and everything. Spain. Spanish. Eskimo. Sausage. All words I use that are not the actual cultural core identifier.
We self-adopt into something we are comfortable with and we appoint other people and entities into groups we understand because we use our own language constructs. It’s human nature.
Ben Noah. Ger. righteous gentile. Tzadik. Noachide. Follower of YHVH. Ben Avraham. You can take any of these (and this is the tip of the ice-berg) and via different spellings or formatting, turn them into something unique.. something more ‘you’. But really, they are just letters. Just something that makes you feel that you are a) Special to God and b) NOT something else.
Me? I’m a non-Jew. When I have to explain myself I’ll try to use words that the audience might already know but, for the most part, I’m a non-Jew who believes in the Tanakh alone. It’s clear and clean. I follow Judaism and I’m a non-Jew. Depending on who is listening they will automatically assume I follow a certain type of Judaism and that’s fine. 😉 it saves future talk.
‘But everyone who is not Jewish is a non-Jew!?’.
Yes. Why do I need to make myself stand out to the world. Why do I need my faith button or badge to do the job I should be doing via my actions and belief?
Everyone is free to pick their own path. It is hugely important to come to your own conclusions on all matters of faith. Study it out. But really, when you make the list of how you live, how you pray, how you behave.. the ‘how you name yourself’ option should be way down there.. near the bottom.
This series, I’ll remind you, isn’t about telling you what to do.. it’s about me spreading out what I do. 🙂
4 thoughts on “WANJTD – Series – 3 Identity part 1”
I went into hospital recently and was asked the question “What is your religion?” I am not a christian and although we follow Judaism as best we can, I am not a Jew. My answer was “none”but there just did not seem to be a better answer. We live in the country (England), not close to a synagogue or anything so we do our own studies. Been listening to you, Jono and Tovia for years
Hi there! – are you on Facebook? If you are, hit me up. There are a few like you in the UK. It might be good to reach out? Let me know.
I see the name ‘Truth Seeking Follower of Torah’ fits very well.
A good post. You are correct, labels SHOULD be the least thing. However in the world we live in they are often the first thing people see. Also, I think that as people we do seek some identity. It is natural to do so. So, in a sense, although it definitely falls behind faith, practice, prayer etc, it still retains some importance.
The press love labels. How many times have they referred to Madonna’s study of Kabbalah as “Madonna’s weird religion”. It doesn’t matter whether you like Madonna or not. The point stands.
I made a Humanistic Judaism conversion / “adoption” and was also declared Jewish without ceremony by an earth based Jewish rabbi. Neither will be accepted by mainstream Jews. Does it matter? No. We are fortunate to have religious freedom. This is, although a secular fact, nonetheless also a very spiritual matter, for which hundreds of thousands have given their lives. Therefore we may choose our own affiliation or identity. Those that try to stop us are on the wrong side of history.
If asked, I usually say either that although not ethnically Jewish, I observe a form of Judaism . (I prefer to say ‘observe’ rather than practice) Or I say I follow Kabbalah, because I do study Kabbalah.
Incidentally, the attitude of Jewish organisations towards people studying Torsh or Kabbalah is not always negative. On the Chabad website, there is a question area. Someone asked whether it was wrong for a non Jew like Madonna to study Kabbalah, keep Shabbat and Jewish holidays etc. The answer given by Chabad, typically pragmatic, was that although they did not know how accurate the Kabbalah was that Madonna was learning , there would be a lot worse ways that she could be spending her time. Perhaps that’s a good outlook for us, too