Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who are we and Whose are we?

The flurry of posts on the UUJA e-list continues. I'm enjoying the busy-buzz-buzz of excited connecting.

It's made me think about who we are, and surprised that I haven't heard or raised this question before. Some of us identify as Jewish UUs. Some identify as UUs of Jewish Heritage (sub group- "cultural Jews".) Some are spouses or partners of Jews. Some of us are UUs with no Jewish heritage but who have an affinity for or interest in Judaism. Some of us wish to be "allies to Jews" because we have an understanding of anti-Jewish sentiment and oppression, the historical role the targeting of Jews has played in the maintaining of oppressive society. Who have I forgotten?

It's similar to the realization that there is not just one Jewish culture but many. There are Jews from most every ethnic /racial group. People who continue Jewish religious traditions come in several flavors: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Chasidic, Renewal, Reconstructionist, There are Jews of every socioeconomic class. We run the gamut from politically right wing to left wing Some of us would never criticise Israel. Some of us are moved by conscience to advocate for Palestinian's human rights.

Is there or could there be an over arching term that encompasses all of us? There is the name of our organization, UUs for Jewish Awareness. I'm grateful, but not satisfied. My brain begins trying to create an image of Jewish, UU and ally. What would symbolize ally? ...Holland? righteous gentile award? ...time for research. Wait, the UUJA has a lovely image of the chalice and the menorah! Am I reinventing the wheel? Some questions are worth repeating! And we can't have too much art.

Now I can't ask the question "Who are we?" without thinking "Whose are we?" At our January SWUUMA annual retreat, Revs. Galaher and Lortie gave us an experience of the dynamite UU curricula "Whose Are We?" This isn't a question needing an intellectual answer. It is one that asks us to see who we are by discovering the yearnings of faith and the ties of our heart. I expect that it is what we will be doing at the upcoming "Let Us Be Counted" conference in Atlanta.

PS. Some who connect to my Jewishness, occasionally call me by my Jewish name, Fivel. Yes, by all means feel free!
Shalom Y'all.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Jew. I'm a UU. (puts on best "Sierra Madre" accent:) "We don' need no stinkin' hyphens!"

    The question "Who are we?" always assumes the further question "Which 'we' is under discussion?" Fluid and rigid boundaries both have their utility, and as we have our Orthodox brethren holding down the rigidity for us, we might as well make the most use we can out of being as fluid as we can be.

    For myself, I make a major effort to work within goal-oriented structures rather than boundary-delimited ones, with the result that I'm frequently completely unaware of the boundaries and also unaffected by them. Edges don't matter when you're right in the middle.


    Joel. Or Yoel, if I'm to follow your custom in your figurative home.