“You Don’t Need to [attend] Synagogue to be a Jew”
The fifth annual Bill Henry Eat-a-Cheeseburger Day found this writer attending the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The wearing of the colors (see below) extracted a support-to-disapproval ratio of about 4:1. The first day’s count showed 18 supportive comments and 4 negative ones. The second day – aka Bill Henry Day or Yom Kippur to tribal members – exposed the racism of a small group of college students, who in turn exposed their middle fingers in our direction (my girlfriend wore her anti-Israel pin). I asked the young woman if she was a Jew and she replied yes. I then asked why she wasn’t in the synagogue, because “today is Yom Kippur”. She said “You don’t need to be in the synagogue to be a Jew”.
Now we never know if a statement like that BEGS the question or ASKS the question, but the question of “What, then, is a Jew?” certainly follows. The woman considers herself to be a Jew and no one disputes it. But by her own admission, she is not a religious Jew. So there doesn’t seem to be a link between her and her God, because on the supposedly holiest day of the year she’d rather smoke a little pot with her Jewish friends in a crowded park than to atone with them at a house of worship. If worship has nothing to do with it, if there is no “belief” in a supreme being worthy of worship, no “faith”, then what does it mean to be a Jew? We put the question to Paul Eisen, hero and mentor to many. His response (“Nobody knows what it is”) leaves us to fend for ourselves. And our best guess is that being a Jew means finding oneself in an unselected, exclusive – and rather mean-spirited if you read Goliath by Max Blumenthal – club. Is that all there is?
Oct. 4 – Seven vigilers
Oct. 11 – Five vigilers
End “Israel”; For the Jews …
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends