Saturday, July 9, 2011

Skeptitcher Rebbe

Hello and Happy Saturday!

First up I wish to thank Friko for her wonderful interview last week. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us Friko!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Skeptitcher Rebbe.
Skeptitcher Rebbe is Jewish and I know you'll enjoy his interview as well!

Here Is Skeptitcher Rebbe's Introduction:

I grew up in a traditional conservative Jewish home and at a young age being Jewish was very important to me. As I grew older I began to see some of the hypocrisies of my Synagogue. At the beginnning of college career I became more involved in Jewish activities and events and ultimately began living as a Lubavitch Orthodox Jew by the time I graduated from my university.

Part of being a Lubavitcher is an emphasis on bringing other less observant Jews into the fold of Orthodoxy and to push them to achieve greater levels of observance. As I had a full time job, I decided that I am better suited to "help" Jews online in various internet forums. As I began to argue the case for Orthodox Judaism and Chassidus it became apparent that my arguments and beliefs were not as sound or rational as I had once believed. Over time with hours of frustration and continual research I was made aware of many serious problems to Jewish theology and ultimately decided to give up my faith in it, but not my lifestyle as an Orthodox Jew.

I currently am married to a wonderful and open minded woman and have 1 son and another on the way. Although she is still a believer and doesn't yet know the full extent of disbelief, I am slowly informing her of what I have learned and how it is affecting my beliefs.

A few months I also began blogging as a way to sort out many of the feelings and thoughts I must keep hidden in my day to day life in order to stay a part of the community I still wish to live in. It has been and continues to be a great adventure for me both emotionally and intellectually.

1) What religion do you practice?
I am a practicing Orthodox Jew (specifically the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement) however I do not believe in the basic tenents of Jewish and Chassidic theology. I do not believe in G-d(s) or any divine or supernatural beings or forces.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised in a Conservative Jewish household. I grew up with some Jewish practices, going to synagogue on Shabbos and holidays, observing many holiday rituals and we kept kosher to a high degree in relation to many non-Orthodox Jews. I became more religious in college and over a few years became a strictly observant Orthodox Jew. Over the last several months I have lost my faith in the truth of Jewish and Chassidic theology.

3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Judaism does have degrees of observance. Being a practicing but non believing Jew also have the the same levels of observance available, however most non-believing Jews don't practice Judaism at all and those that do are more likely to be less observant rather than more observant.

Some defining differences would be whether or not Shabbos laws, Kosher laws and family purity laws are strictly observed or not. Other than that there are few defining lines that can be drawn between degrees, most differences are scaled in shades of gray.

4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
Currently I strictly observe a Chassidic Jewish lifestyle. Keeping kosher, shabbos, prayer, etc. I do so currently because this is the lifestyle I am most comfortable with. It is possible my lifestyle may change as my beliefs have.

5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Afterlife is death. Your conciousness will cease and your body will biodegrade into the the natural enviroment. The memory of your life and actions may live on in the minds of those who knew or knew of you, but ultimately all life is temporal and we are mortal.

This however shouldn't be cause for despair, but a call for enjoying your life and to make the most of what we have and appreciate it.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Everyone's conciousness will cease upon death.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
My beliefs are just what I happen to believe. I can't choose what I find to be true or factual, it is either convincing for me or it isn't. It has nothing to do with it being a good fit or not. If I could choose my beliefs like I can choose food from a buffet line then I would explain, however my response to this question is the same response I suppose most would give to the question "What makes the fact that 1 + 1 = 2 a good fit for you?"

I don't think there is anything in particular that draws me towards an Orthodox lifestyle. It mostly has to do with the way I was raised. A combination of nostalgia and a close community that I enjoy being a part of.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
Everyday is a day of great significance. I celebrate it by doing things I enjoy with the people I love and respect.

As a practicing Orthodox Jew, I also participate in the rituals of Jewish holidays, such as Shabbos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkos, Chanukah, Purim, Pesach, Shavuos, etc. I enjoy the festivities and the relaxing mood these holidays bring on.

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
If they are my friends then we are friends. I treat others with respect, regardless of religious affiliation. Beliefs aren't of much consequence to me with regards to my relationship with people. Their actions towards me and those I love and respect are what counts.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
I would depending on the situation. Currently doing so may hurt my relationship with my wife as she is a believing Orthodox Jew, so if she didn't approve of my participation I wouldn't participate out of respect for her and our marriage. I also wouldn't participate if doing so required me to do or say something that I either find immoral or contrary to my beliefs (such as sacrificing an animal for slaughter or singing a hymn in praise of Jesus). Other than those restrictions I wouldn't mind participating in the religious holyday or ritual of others.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
I find a burka to be a symbol of suppression of individuality. I am not well versed in Shariah Law to give an informed opinion on it. I have heard that some Shariah Laws are cruel and unfair. I won't dismiss all of Shariah Law on the basis of a few bad apples, I would have to look into it and understand each law on its own and within its own context.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
Many Orthodox communities have certain restrictions, namely that women are not allowed to be Rabbis, read publicly from the Torah at services, sing in public or teach certain religious subjects in certain settings. I don't care much for these restrictions. However I recognize that the lifestyle I am living and enjoy wouldn't exist in the same way were it not for these restrictions.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Yes. I actually don't mind it so much. I am less self consious when only around men during davening. It feels more comfortable.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
Living as an Orthodox Jew affects my life in many ways everyday, from the way I dress, to what I eat, to what I can say in my community. It encompasses almost every aspect of my daily life.

My beliefs on abortion and gay rights are not developed nor controlled by my religious lifestyle, although it probably help shape it in some ways, as did my environment as a whole. I am for the most part pro-life, but I definitely allow for exceptions. I think that if a woman wishes to have an abortion it must be done in the first few months. After that I can't morally justify the rights of a womans choice of family planning over the rights of the baby still within their mothers womb. I fully support gay rights, including gay marriage.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
As long as they are happy and fulfilled and are not hurting others, I will fully support them.

16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
No, everyone ceases to exist after death, regardless of merit.

17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
Religion is mostly a group thing. It gets really complicated since most of the time there is no strict standard for who is and is not in a group, and even when there is a standard many times labels overlap and this causes conflict as to who is in your group or not. It is all pretty tedious and pointless really.

I don't identify myself with any belief system. I am a religion of one. No one claims to speak for me, and I don't claim to speak for anyone else.

18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Not to my knowledge.

19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Sometimes I feel less important within my Jewish community, however my own personal beliefs don't make me feel less important.

20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
My mind is constantly in struggle with moments of peace and clarity. I enjoy this arrangement and it gives me a sense of purpose and growth.

21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No. There is no evidence supporting it.

No comments:

Post a Comment