I received a telephone call from a friend regarding some religious practices. He is Jewish, but he has not had any formal training or education so he relies upon me as a reference point for all things Jewish.
I have often suggested that he take a basic course, an introduction to Judaism as I think that it would be of great interest to him. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable, but there are many who exceed me and it makes more sense to me to encourage him to attend a structured program.
This is something that he has been unwilling to do. He doesn’t want to engage in any learning with Reform or Conservative Jews because he doesn’t consider them to be authentic in their practice of Judaism. And he refuses to go near Orthodox institutions because in his mind they will be too judgemental and he doesn’t want to hear what a bad Jew they think he is.
I told him about the outreach programs that I am aware of, as well as give him some resources to consider and explained that successful outreach programs do not belittle or demean those who come to them. But he is firmly opposed to moving ahead.
This refusal stems from a number of things, and there is one aspect of it that I think he and I share. And that is a concern that we are about to engage in a life changing event. There can be a lot of uncertainty as to what that means to a person.
Any time you undertake something that you consider potentially life altering you need to weigh the consequences of your actions.
Skipping back to some earlier comments I wanted to mention that I am really displeased with the impressions that people have regarding the various denominations. I don’t appreciate being told that one group is more Jewish or more authentic than the others. And I certainly think that the stereotyping hurts us more than it helps.
A little more tolerance could go a long way.