Originally Posted by BinahYeteirah
That does sound delicate. How to tell them that their version of your comfortable Jewish traditions are freaking you out (please feel free to correct me here, I'm putting words in your mouth a bit, I know)?
Originally Posted by merpk
To the OP, I may be totally off-base about this as far as your personal situation goes, but I know that a lot of Cultural Jews (aka Secular Jews or Atheist Jews) are very strongly connected Jewishly ... and are very sensitive to Jewish history, etc. And are very ticked off at evangelizing/proselytizing from a pure peoplehood standpoint (ie., that evangelizing/proselytizing led to the murder of millions of Jews over the last two millenia), even if they're entirely uninterested in any religious meaning to Judaism at all ...
Is that where you're coming from?
Yes, Exactly!! I have issues in general with people co-opting other people's religions, but this I am taking personally. My Jewish identity is strong, even though I don't follow the religious beliefs. I am finding this exceptionally difficult to explain to my DH (as many of you figured) was/is not Jewish. He was raised Pentecostal, which is what his parents were before becoming messianic, but he is a non-theist. I am not sure my in-laws would understand either.
Like some posters mentioned I feel they think my presence lends credibility to them (based on their actions). They have no specific place to worship, or religious leader so they practice in their barn with their friends; their 'fellowship'. They are self taught through books/internet as far as I can tell. My MIL refers to me as her Jewish DIL, and to our two DD's as her Jewish grandchildren. People in her fellowship were aware that I had been to Israel, and even had my Bat Mitzvah there (information I had not offered). To have some type of Jewish connection seems very important as I found myself pulled into conversations around 'who is most Jewish'. It was very bizarre.
While we are not raising our children Jewish/Christian/Atheist etc., we are teaching them about different religions, traditions, to ask questions.... I have no issue with our children observing any holiday, I do have issue with them being told by my in-laws that they (MIL, FIL, and DD's) are Jewish, and so celebrate Hanukkah, light the hanukkiah, play dreidal, eat fried chicken and pray to Jesus and spend the night reading scripture to 'prove' to each other that Jesus was Jewish as well as the Moshiach, and how if he were here he'd be celebrating Hanukkah with us. I don't know what this is, but it isn't Jewish, and it isn't Christian. To call it one or the other is just wrong and incredibly misleading. I do not want my children taught fallacious information about religion! (This is where the conversations get really interesting between DH and I for the record, from a non-believer perspective
I have had to correct other people in my husbands’ family on numerous occasions now that Jews do not think Christ is the Messiah. By calling themselves Jews, they are presenting themselves as such. They combine Christian religiosity with Hebrew words and tradition and call it Jewish. I don’t understand it, the Christians in the room ask me what they are saying and all I can say is; “That’s not Jewish”. BinahYeteirah mentioned using an analogy, and that's what I've been doing. I wouldn't say someone who is Christian believes Buddha is the messiah, I wouldn't claim to be Muslim, or any other religion if I didn't follow some of the standard tenants of that belief system.
What am I supposed to think when my in-laws announce to people that I am Jewish (before they meet me) after telling me that the only reason their isn't peace on earth now is because the Jewish people haven't excepted Christ as the Messiah??? Yes, I am going to be immensely uncomfortable surrounded by a fellowship Hanukkah. No, I won't be going back to any other ones, and neither will my daughters.
FTR - while I view much of this as anti-Semitic, I do not believe that is their intention. I think they genuinely want to feel a part of a community, and I hope their intentions are not subversive as I feel them to be. I do need to sit down and discuss with them what their beliefs are, and see if they understand how they can be perceived. But that's going to be difficult. It's a really long story, but over 11 years ago it was agreed that DH and I would not discuss our beliefs around them (and they wouldn't try to convert us). We have respected this but it has come to a point where we (and we both agree) are no longer able to do this 1) because of our children and 2) because there has to be mutual respect, and so far we're the only ones truly respecting the 'agreement'.
Thanks for all of the responses. My ongoing reaction to my in-laws and the most recent Hanukkah gathering we attended has really caused me to do a lot of inner searching. I did not realize how strongly I identify as Jewish. It’s a whole new thread, but I need to find the balance in myself between my cultural identification and religious one. I feel more strongly connected to Jewish tradition now then ever, and this is something DH can’t understand: how is it possible to be a non-theistic Jew? He would never call himself a Christian Non-Theist.
In true Jewish fashion there are some very interesting conversations going on over here.