Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On the other hand:Taking Judaism "too seriously"(?)

Here's my own response to JDub's comment to this recent post of mine:

"You have to acknowledge that you are a rarity -- an observant Conservo jew." I'm not sure I fit that description, since I still travel (by means other than my feet) on Shabbat/Sabbath, but I'm probably more observant than most of my friends and family. Recently, I mentioned to some of my oldest buddies that I'd decided, a couple of years ago, to start trying to daven (pray) three times a day because, with my only child now 26 years old, I really had no excuse not to do so. It occurred to me afterward that they probably thought I'd lost my marbles. I think I can count the number of Conservative Jewish friends of mine who pray even once a day on one hand. Maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong friends.
Wed Jul 22, 01:55:00 PM 2009

Then, of course there are the fine folks who think it's okay to skip prayers when leading a service, and the fine folks who think it's laughable when someone says they *don't* skip (at least not the most important prayers).

I described these incidents to my husband and asked how he feels about my increasing observance, and even he thinks I've gone off the deep end. Does this ever happen to Orthodox Jews?


Blogger David A.M. Wilensky said...

I dunno, but it certainly happens to Reform Jews. Try telling your old NFTY friends you wanna start praying daily and see what happens.

Tue Jul 28, 05:21:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Oy. Been there, done that. I have no trouble imagining such a scenario.

Tue Jul 28, 05:26:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Sure it does. ME and I take turns looking askance at how frum the other is becoming.

Tue Jul 28, 07:35:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...


That's reassuring.

Tue Jul 28, 07:55:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Woodrow/Conservadox said...

Now I wonder if my Orthodox (well, at least by denominational choice) brother thinks I've gone a little wacky by laying tefillin in the morning and being shomer shabbos (though I don't pray as often as you do). I KNOW my (totally unreligious) mom thinks I'm a little touched and if she knew the whole truth she'd think I had completely lost it.

Tue Jul 28, 10:19:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous jdub said...

Not really, but only because my thoroughly mod orth wife (day school and Israel educated) keeps me tethered to the via media.

Wed Jul 29, 09:01:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Tevel said...

Guess I belong to a particularly observant Reform congregation, then, 'cause my Reform friends are right there with me, davening daily, some even in tefillin.

If there's one generalization to be made, imo, it's that you just can't generalize about Jewish denominations and degrees of frumkeit.

Wed Jul 29, 02:00:00 PM 2009  
Blogger David A.M. Wilensky said...

True. What is this magical Reform wonder-shul you daven at?

Wed Jul 29, 02:08:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...


Fri Jul 31, 10:30:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sigh. I suppose I should take another try at answering my own question.

"Does this ever happen to Orthodox Jews?"

I guess that, if it did not happen, there wouldn't be complaints about young people going to Israel for a year or two of yeshiva (men) or seminary (women) study and returning home much stricter in their hashkafah/religious perspective and/or in their observance than when they'd left. (Check out the Blue Fringe song "Flipping Out"--you can probably find it on YouTube.)

It may be the case that "flipping out" is more common and/or accepted among Orthodox than among non-Orthodox Jews. Frum folks may be upset, but they're not necessarily surprised when a young woman returning from studying in Israel will no longer wear pants in public, or when a young man returned from studies in Israel will no longer wear any colors other than black and white. But those of us who become more observant but do not change denominations seem to catch a certain amount of flack for becoming more observant "unnecessarily." "Why do you want to keep kosher? You're Reform!" "Just because you're Conservative doesn't mean you have to davven three times a day. I don't, and I'm Conservative. Only the rabbi does that." Maybe the real issue is that non-Orthodox Jews have lower expectations. It's more of a surprise when a non-Orthodox Jew becomes more observant than his or her family and/or friends, either because it doesn't happen that often or because we *think* that it doesn't happen that often.

Fri Jul 31, 01:05:00 PM 2009  

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