A Hassid and A Heretic
So this is interesting. A Hassid and A Heretic is one of many blogs kept by outwardly Hassidic (ultra-Orthodox) Jews who are harboring doubts about their faith. Next time someone asks me about the benefits of the Internet, remind me to mention this. Finally, instead of struggling alone, people like this man have an outlet for their feelings, their questions. More importantly, they have a community of similarly struggling folks.
My father once told me that if I ever became an Orthodox Jew, he would sit Shiva for me. (OK, for those of you who don't get the joke, he would treat me as if I'd died. When that comment is made it's usually about marrying a non-Jew.) The idea of me donning a wig and refusing to eat at his house horrified him. Frankly, I feel the same way about the prospect of my children becoming Orthodox, although I am "tolerant" and "open-minded" and would thus have to chew on my tongue and crochet Yarmulkes for my grandchildren. I abhor fanaticism of any kind, except fanatical support for progressive politics. That I'm all in favor of. Unless you're trying to bitch me out about buying disposable diapers. Which happened once in the grocery store. I was picking up disposable swim diapers for a trip to Hawaii and some woman looked at me disapprovingly and said, "You know, you can get those in a reusable form." To which I replied, "Really? Because I was hoping to spend my vacation rinsing shit out of my baby's diaper. Thanks for the tip."
I digress. Where was I? Oh, right. The Orthodox. When I was in college in Jerusalem (junior year abroad) I worked in a Laundromat. We did the wash for a couple of yeshivas. Twice a week the boys' clothes would arrive. Clothes they'd worn under wool suits in the blazing Middle Eastern sun. Fragrant. Delightful. I used tongs to empty the laundry bags. I might have developed my aversion then. I know there's a lot to admire in the Hassidic community -- support, companionship, etc. I even wrote a novel about it. But still. I'd rather the kids married in the faith. My faith. Doubt, perversity and self-loathing. Now that's a religion I can get behind.