Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Case for a Truly Secular Israeli State . . .

She could have cut to the chase a little quicker, but to Eva Illouz's conclusion in a recent Haaretz article, my response is: Yes, Yes, and Yes! She writes:
"The tools and strategies that were apt, appropriate and even exceptionally useful for the survival and identity of the most persecuted minority in history are inadequate and even dangerous for a majority . . .There cannot be a greater way to love Jews and Judaism than to “cling” to the demand that Israel become a universal and secular state, that it represent equally all its citizens, embodying the idea of a common humanity."

(Not sure we are really the most persecuted minority). In any case, I know I've been AWOL for a while, but I do check in now and again. Would love to hear your ideas. You can read the whole article here. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

When my kid has questions . . . . I answer them.
Tonight Mr. CL and his brother & sister-in-law had a conversation that really agitated him. I wasn't there, but he relayed it as follows. The conversation started around feelings re: lying to one's kids. Mr. CL's brother explained that he has no problem lying to his kids, and, for example, his five year old, does not know about death or how reproduction works.  This would have been fine with my husband, except the tone of the conversation quickly turned to a  critique of "those people" who tell their kids things they are "not yet developmentally ready for" (i.e. a thinly-veiled-us). Because parenting is so personal, it's difficult not to respond defensively to the criticism, so I apologize in advance if this post has a defensive tone. (I'm glad I wasn't there for the conversation because I also would've gotten annoyed, and really it's not worth it. To each his own - they parent their way, we parent ours, it's not really even worth discussing because we're into going to change each other's ways.)

In any case, openly answering questions works for us. My five year old knows that people die. He knows that people are alive as long as their hearts and brains work. He knows about nerves and blood vessels. He knows that men have penises and women have vaginas, and that sperm and eggs begin the process of making babies. These facts that are a part of life have been explained to him in response to his questions as he asked them. He is inquisitive, and seems happy, and well adjusted.  Though we have simplified explanations such that he will understand the responses, to the best of our ability, we don't  sugarcoat or lie.

There are certainly challenges in our honesty-is-the-best-policy approach. "Mommy, why did our family leave Israel/South Africa/Poland/Russia?" "It became dangerous to live there." "Why was it dangerous" . . . Enter political landmine here . . . My son is at a secular/multicultural school. I'm very concerned that any race-relation answers will be misinterpreted by him, and then relayed improperly at school, and reflect poorly on us. But, questions about dinosaurs or biology - bring it on!!

 Mr. CL's brother and his wife are frum (BTs), and I'm not sure how much this distinction in our parenting styles is reflective of us as individuals, or results from our broader secular vs. religious worldviews. For me, my parenting style in this instance definitely reflects some broader values:

1. Honesty and Integrity:  I want my kids to be honest, so I am honest with them. We also want our children to trust us, and  believe that trust is built on - among other things - a foundation of honesty. In as much as possible, I want to avoid my kids having a realization that we've been lying all along about something, and then question everything else we've told them. For me it seems easier to just be honest from the start. My parents had the same philosophy, and I am so grateful to them for that.

2. Knowledge: My five year old is in tune with the fact that the physical world is a fascinating place. There is so much to learn about the world, and so much about the world that we don't know yet.When my son asks questions that we actually have answers to, I am really happy to answer - and to have the resources to answer (yay Google!) -  those questions. My taking his question seriously, reinforces his curiosity, and usually fuels more questions/learning opportunities.

 I'm not saying that as frum people my in laws don't value these things, but I wonder whether some other values in their religiously influenced worldview supersede the ones above.  In any case, I recognize that just because my approach reflects my broader values,  does not mean that their approach is similarly religiously influenced. Your thoughts?

P.S. For a funnier take on atheism + parenting, I enjoyed Laughing in Purgatory's Priceless Gifts for an Atheist Dad.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Question! About the Messiah . . .

A conversation with a friend led me to wonder whether for some Jews a theocracy would be considered a positive thing . . in the same way that (from my very superficial understanding) fundamentalist Christians want people to become Christians + Jews to return to Israel to encourage the coming of the messiah) ; i.e. Do some Jews perceive a Jewish theocracy as a prerequisite for a messianic age? How seriously do Orthodox Jews take the coming of the Messiah, anyway? Is there a difference between the Haredi conception of the Messiah vs. a Modern Orthdox one? And, what do the groups believe has to happen for the Messiah to come?

Friday, 17 May 2013

Question(s)! About Eating Animals . . . .

We recently got Netflix, which has translated to a decrease in my book consumption, corresponding to a  more-or-less proportionate increase in my movie (especially Documentary) consumption. Tonight I watched Vegucated, which makes some compelling arguments for Veganism. (The most effective for me is the animal cruelty angle). Anyway, curious how vegetarianism/veganism is viewed in the Orthodox community. My mother-in-law said that at a (Conservative) shul she attended, the rabbi has just become vegetarian, stating that he feels it is a higher form of kashrut. Would that sentiment be shared in an Orthodox context?

A quick seperate - maybe silly - eating-animals-related question: Why are eggs and fish pareve?  It seems that if chickens are considred fleishik, eggs should be too, no? And fish as a living creature should seemingly also fall into the fleishik category.

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