Today, I had to make a painful decision.
I stopped following Pop Chassid, who I’ve followed pretty much since I started this journey, and Hevria, the Jewish artistic magazine he started sometime this past year, because apparently Elad Nehorai can’t be bothered to consider me Jewish unless I convert Orthodox (which will happen around the same time the sun freezes over).
Oh, he tries. He says. He tries to understand that a person can be Jewish and yet not be Jewish all at the same time. He calls this a “paradox,” that non-Jews (by his estimation) can somehow have Jewish souls. He says he can’t call people like me non-Jewish anymore, but he can’t call us Jewish either. And that somehow he has to do both.
He recognizes that he can’t call people like me non-Jewish. And yet even after that he still retreats back to the same old, same old Orthodox claptrap and says “but I still wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one.”
Despite his attempts to think it through, he still falls back on “My feelings about this haven’t changed.”
So at the end of it he says he will both consider people like me non-Jewish and Jewish at the same time.
Not good enough, Elad. Not good enough.
I’ll just quote Jonathan Byrd: “Admit that your perspective might feel right and be wrong.” Because it is.
It’s not a paradox. It’s a decision Elad has to make, and doesn’t want to, because no matter which way he goes he’s going to hurt someone’s feelings and/or offend someone.
But regardless of his struggle, I’m still Jewish, and I’m still a Jew. Either accept that or don’t, Elad, but don’t twist yourself into a pretzel saying that I both am, and am not, Jewish. Either be honest that you’re accepting a bigoted, closedminded, narrowminded definition of Jewish (“Orthodox only”), or open your mind and accept that I’m a Jew too.
(Oh, and by the way – the Reform movement of Judaism predates Orthodoxy.)
You can call it a paradox, but what it is, is justifying a bigoted mindset. It’s the same thing as the people saying “heritage not hate” about the Confederate flag. That heritage is hate. It’s the same thing as why Christianity has fractured into thousands of different sects – because of this “you have to be exactly like us or you’re not part of us” mindset.
Demanding that Jews must be Orthodox or else not be considered Jewish is no different.
Now, I shouldn’t care what one Orthodox blogger thinks of my Yiddishkeit. And mostly, I don’t care, any more than I care what fundamentalist Christians think of my gayness or atheists think of my religiosity. But when someone says that who I am is not real, because it makes them uncomfortable? Because it creates a “paradox” for them?
Then yes, I’m offended.
She’asani Israel, Elad, even if you don’t like it. She’asani Israel, even if you can’t handle it.
Pop Chassid has been, and is, a popular Judaism blog. He has a lot of followers. But his popularity does not make him right. So:
I categorically reject his questioning of my Jewish authenticity.
I categorically reject his defense of his decision not to consider me a Jew unless I’m Orthodox.
And I categorically reject his blog, his magazine, and his attitude, until he shows some evolution in this mindset and realizes that it’s not a paradox but only an attempt to protect his prejudices.
I have friends who are Orthodox who consider me Jewish. I have corresponded with an Orthodox person on Quora who told me that Orthodoxy isn’t for everyone, and he doesn’t consider me any less Jewish just because I’m Reform.
If they can do it, Elad Nehorai can do it too.
And until he does, I’m not reading his blog or his magazine any more, and I’m going to encourage others not to, either.