This may be what I’ve been looking for since December of last year.
I’ve talked about this before, and definitely last December I posted about this, but I’ve struggled with my Jewish identity. It’s something that not only can’t I deny on a genetic and socialization basis, but a culture that I’ve felt I’ve lacked. It’s a personal narrative that has been consciously cut off by my grandparents and an identity I attacked out of an anti-theism that denied the possibility of a Jewish cultural identity without a Jewish religious identity.
But in December I was in Washing DC and went to the Natural History Museum, where they had an exhibit on race and ethnicity. The two were practically used as synonyms, and there was mixed in an element of culture and socialization. I enjoyed the exhibit but felt out of touch with it - they did not talk at all about Jews. Understandable in a sense because Jews are not really a race. But we are a distinct ethnicity, a distinct culture, which left me feeling distant from the discourse about whites in this exhibit. Yes I have white privilege. But I do not have a white cultural upbringing.
So since then I’ve been thinking about how I can keep the culture without the religion. I have no desire for religion, I am hostile to the idea of organized religion (though not going to oppress anyone who is religious or whatever I just disagree with the practice of religion), and I certainly don’t believe in any god. But Judaism as a culture is historically tied to the religion and it’s been very difficult in finding a way to sever the tie.
Humanistic Judaism might be the key. It’s a “nontheistic alternative in contemporary Jewish life. It defines Judaism as the cultural and historical experience of the Jewish people and encourages humanistic and secular Jews to celebrate their Jewish identity by participating in Jewish holidays and life cycle events (such as weddings and bar and bat mitzvah) with inspirational ceremonies that draw upon but go beyond traditional literature.” (according to wikipedia)
Humanistic Jews Affirm That…
…A Jew is someone who identifies with the history, culture and future of the Jewish people.
…Jewish identity is best preserved in a free, pluralistic environment
…Jewish history is a human saga, a testament to the significance of human power and human responsibility.
..Judaism is the historic culture of the Jewish people.
…We possess the power and responsibility to shape our own lives independent of supernatural authority.
…Ethics and morality should serve human needs.
…The freedom and dignity of the Jewish people must go hand in hand with the freedom and dignity of every human being.
I agree. Now that I have found this I am not sure what to do with it. But at least I have found it.