Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Now, can't we all just get along?

A response to a comment on the last post has become too long, so I'm making it a new post.

Given my  inexplicable interest in how Jewish denominations perceive each other, I  was very intrigued by the statement below.

G*3 wrote:
>In the UO world, though, anything to the left of RWMO is thought of as secular.

The statement struck me because from a secular perspective, of course LWMO is religious. From the secular vantage point, choices like being shomer shabbos, or keeping kosher etc. are religiously informed.  Maybe I'm just being defensive, but I took  the term "secular" in this context as not meant to be strictly descriptive or complimentary.i.e. it's meant to be insulting, correct? i.e. Anything NOT UO or a reasonable facsimile is not really religious, i.e. not an authentic/valid way to practice Judaism?

Quick tangent:
When I was about 13 or  14, my best friend and I were waiting at a bus stop as an UO  guy approached. Reminded of my dad's favorite line, I proudly said to my friend, "Hey - he is one of our people". Anyway, when the guy passed us we were completely taken aback because he began to curse us out in Yiddish. All I understood was "shikse" and something that I understood as prostitute.Now with Beit Shemesh etc. there are reports all over of the use of "shikse" as a favorite term for insulting non-UOs by UOs.

For me, being a non-Jew is not inherently insulting, and it would never occur to me to call someone a "shikse" as an insult. In a similar vein, it is not offensive to be called "secular" because I don't see secular as the opposite of Jewish - which, if secular is used as an insult, is the underlying implication. Of course, this is not to say that more secular-influenced Jews have halos hovering over them, and do not insult the UO. The most frequent slur I've heard launched the other way (from Jews of varying denominations including MO) is "crazy".  So, while the "UO" look to religion to define "the in group", the more secular-influenced Jews look to ration, and the most readily available insult is "crazy" i.e. irrational.

Or, maybe I'm way off base. Maybe the UO world's perception of "anything to the left of RWMO" as secular simply reflects a misunderstanding of the word secular?

(My apologies for the unintentional lesson on how to actually insult your fellow Jew).

4 comments:

  1. > I take it the term "secular" in this context is not meant to be strictly descriptive or complimentary.i.e. it's meant to be insulting,

    I didn’t mean it as an insult. Nor is it an insult per se in the UO world to say that someone isn’t frum. It’s more that the UO have a very narrow definition of “religious,” and that anything outside of that definition is not religious, a.k.a. secular.

    It is in effect insulting that a sincere LWMO, Conservative, etc. Jew is not even considered religious, but it’s not as if someone spread this attitude in the UO community in order to insult those outside it. It’s not “meant to be insulting,” it’s just the logical consequence of the view that only UO is valid.

    > is yeshivish the right term?

    If he was cursing at you in Yiddish, probably not. Most Yeshivish people in the US and Canada speak English as their first (and often only) language.

    > For me, being a non-Jew is not inherently insulting, and it would never occur to me to call someone a "shikse" as an insult.

    Being a cow is not inherently insulting either – for the cow. Calling a person a cow is insulting. If one sees the Jewish nation as the purpose of creation, and everyone else as at best existing to facilitate the holy mission of the select few, than treating someone who should be a member of the select few as if he were not is insulting.

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  2. When people have differing divine mandates that confirm their biases, no, people just can't can't along.

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  3. >I didn’t mean it as an insult. Nor is it an insult per se in the UO world to say that someone isn’t frum. It’s more that the UO have a very narrow definition of “religious,” and that anything outside of that definition is not religious, a.k.a. secular.

    ok . . I was being defensive. I must have been in a mood for a rant last night. Have softened some of my language a bit . . .

    > is yeshivish the right term?

    >If he was cursing at you in Yiddish, probably not.

    Thank you . . I'll edit it out. Still navigating the terminology.

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  4. > [if] differing divine mandates that confirm their biases,[then] no people just can't get along.

    Though I also don't subscribe to any divine mandate, don't you think some divine mandates are more conducive to getting a long than others?

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