Sunday, May 22, 2011

Organized Religion? I think not...

היום שלשה ושלשים יום שהם ארבעה עבועות וחמשה לעמר
Today is thirty-three days, which is four weeks and five days, of  the omer
הוד שבהוד
A day of humility in a week of humility

For the past few years, I've been pondering the statement I hear often from friends, "I don't believe in organized religion." It's often said as part of a discussion as to why I have taken on a Jewish spiritual practice. Sometimes I respond in a joking manner, "Have you read nothing about the different factions within Judaism? There's nothing very organized about the religion :)"

But as I get deeper into my practice in this time and space, I understand that statement more and more as I affiliate with the "official" Jewish organizations less and less. While I belong to a synagogue that is fiercely egalitarian, where women and men have equal footing in ritual practice, the movement it is affiliated, the Conservative Movement, won't take an unequivocal stand on that issue. At the synagogue that I grew up in, located on Long Island in New York, women still can't chant Torah, and if I were to attend their weekday minyan, I would not count as one of the ten needed to say kaddish. Yet they are also affiliated with the Conservative Movement, so my synagogue dues helps support them.

The Groucho Marx line keeps going through my head, "I don't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member." They want me as a member, but I don't fully belong. While some members would embrace me and my practice, others would block me from fulfilling roles important to that practice. And the big organization that is supposed to support me still, won't make a full commitment to egalitarian ritual practice in the name of not upsetting some of their members. I guess I don't matter too much to them, since upsetting me and others like me is okay.

Not a very uplifting message for the day, but one that I must continue to bring up and ponder--not just for myself, but for future generations of Jewish women.

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