Monday, March 26, 2007

Hey, are you Orthodox?

A quick bit of background: my friend Rob grew up in the Reform world and has since embraced the havurah world. He continues to value liberal judaism and primarily identify with it.

While at a Jewish conference, which wasn't primarily religious in focus, Rob asked the fellow who had been asked to facilitate the shabbat experience whether a communal rendition of benching would follow friday night dinner.

The other guy responded by asking Rob whether he was Orthodox.

Rob astutely pointed out that being asked if he was orthodox was a lot like being asked whether he was gay. Being asked whether one is orthodox is vaguely flattering but inaccurate and often based on a misperception of what it means to hold said identity, just like being asked if you are gay.
I suppose a fairly small slice of the world is occasionally mistaken for being both gay and an orthodox jew (though always at different times).


At 3/26/2007 , Blogger Chorus of Apes said...

It may be a small slice, but both of those assumptions are put on me with some frequency. While I do not identify as either gay or orthodox, I am MUCH more offended when someone presumes I am orthodox, than when someone presumes I am gay. While I do not identify as gay, I am proud to be counted as an ally and member of that community, but I am certainly not proud to be associated with orthodoxy. I do not wish to paint all of orthodoxy with a negative image, but in general I think gay communities support lots of good things in this world, and orthodox communities support a lot of VERY BAD things.

Mostly, the whole thing is annoying. So many i-dont-believe-in-labels liberals cannot comprehend religious and sexual identities that do not fit in little boxes. Oy!

At 3/26/2007 , Blogger Sam Felder said...

So wait a second. Did you just out Rob?

If he's not Orthodox then he must be gay. Right?


and a Communist

At 3/26/2007 , Blogger Aharon said...

In what respect is it relevant to ask someone who wants to participate in the birkhat mazon (the prayer giving thanks and showing appreciation to G.d and community after a mean) what their orientation towards traditional Judaism is? I can only imagine a circumstance where a person being considered for the honor of being the shaliach tzibbur (representative of the prayer group) might not be mindful of the intentions of those present because of their gender. Alternately, the people choosing the shaliach tzibbur might not be willing to choose someone based on gender/sex-biased, anti-egalitarian, or anti-pluralist prejudices.

At 3/26/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

due to various circumstances I suspect a good chunk of the ASB trip I just went on would tell you that I'm both :)

At 3/27/2007 , Anonymous Chorus of Apes said...

go rebecca!!!!

At 3/28/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

CoA- thanks for the cheer. but what exactly is it for?

At 3/29/2007 , Anonymous Chorus of Apes said...

for being both ortho and queer!

(I know, I know, you dont ID as queer, but its nice when folks are ok with others seeing them as queer, and not needing to insist that they are straight.)

At 3/29/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

:) pretty much.

I don't ID as queer, but I don't ID as straight either, at least not without an involved conversation on how we're gonna define straight.

I don't ID as ortho either. thing is, when people asked me if I was ortho, I *did* feel a need to explain that I'm not exactly ortho.
However, between my eating habits ("can I have a garden salad without onions or croutons please?"), my davening habits (yeah 6am shacharit!) and shabbos observance, I'm certain anyone who I didn't explain otherwise to read that all as ortho.


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