Were Judaism simply a faith I, an atheist, would simply not be Jewish. But Judaism, as it is socially constructed, is not simply a faith. It is hard to say exactly what it is
Although I am now rueful about this, years ago I submitted a DNA sample to 23andMe. From them I learned that my genetic makeup is approximately 98%
Ashkenazic Jewish. So, theology aside, I'm Jewish that way.
Growing up, when I was raised in a somewhat wobbly Orthodox Jewish environment and was still attending yeshivas, we could fairly reliably anticipate that as the bus pulled up to school the day after Halloween there would be swastikas painted on the front and side walls. I don't think that my turn to atheism would convince any of the people who painted them (or those today who chant "Jews will not replace us!") that I am less Jewish.
Attending those yeshivas (in the 1950's and early 60's) about a third of my teachers (rabbonim
) had tattoos on their arms. We rarely glimpsed them -- most of them wore long-sleeve shirts all the time. I can think of only one who was willing to talk about it. As I pieced together more of what had happened I felt more that I would be a Jew no matter what my religious beliefs.
Walking in Greenwich Village, talking animatedly (as I am sometimes wont to do) with a friend about some issue of political/social/cultural importance to me, someone who had been walking behind us ran ahead, whirled around and yelled (in, I swear, a British accent
!): "Putrid synagoguers!". The experience left me feeling a little more Jewish, not any less.
Here's what (besides the actual religion) I don't embrace:
When Settler Becomes Native
- I don't believe Jews are, in any sense, a "Chosen People". It kind of goes with not believing in any gods.
- I don't believe that Jews are. in any respect, a superior people. We are about as mediocre as the rest of the world, as fucked up as any other group that numbers in the millions.
- I don't believe Jews are a nation. I sometimes like to think they are the prototypes of a sort of future cosmopolitanism but reality, unfortunately, too often intrudes with a rebuttal.
- I don't believe Jews have been, for over a thousand years, an indigenous people anywhere on this earth.
Examining the claim of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel