Monday, January 12, 2015

Why "Lone Jew"

I derived the title from the idea of the lone scout, which in the Scouting community is a scout that lives in an area that has no scout troops or a scout that is otherwise unable to join a troop. So what do I mean by lone? I quote someone I know well, "I'm not a joiner." I have never been one to be active in clubs or groups. I thrive on my own. I'm no social butterfly.

The most group-time I have spent was my four year stint in the Boy Scouts (in a troop that met at a synagogue, of course (but not my parents synagogue)). But even there I was not so heavily involved. In four years I only achieved the rank of Second Class (though I had a First Class board of review twice, and not passing was one of the things that may have caused me to give it up). I did not earn one merit badge (you read that right). Oddly enough the one award I did receive was my RELIGIOUS award, the Ner Tamid. Does that qualify as irony? Basically it was earned by a sizable group within the troop by going to classes with a Rabbi (I think), we sat through lectures. I don't remember having to do a heck of a lot in terms of written work but I did pay more attention than I did in Hebrew school, don't ask me why. As far as the scouts went, I didn't go on too many camping trips. The ones I did enjoy were to Gettysburg and other historical sites. Years later there was an alumni camping trip. I was the only alumnus to go other than former scouts who were now adult leaders along with the current troop. On that trip my hindsight got the best of me and I regretted (and still do) not taking advantage of what the scouts had to offer. But hindsight and regret are easy. I was not a joiner and I still am not.

Community is was seems to be touted when you visit a website for any congregation. But these days I consider my extended family to be really all of the Jewish community I need. I get together with aunts, uncles and cousins on Passover and I enjoy it. Here I am a joiner. Some say the family is getting so big that Passover with all of these people might become too unwieldy, but I hope not. This is a community I like.

I have lately looked into the various Jewish communities around me. I started looking at Reform. I looked at the Jewish Community Center. When I learned recently what Reconstructionist and Humanistic judaism were, I looked into them too. But as far as the broader religious community goes, I think I'm still not a joiner. I understand other people are social, and these social organizations need money to keep going, but a part of me screams inside, "faith should be free." I know, it sounds like I am criticizing the fact that they all require fees to join. Maybe I am a little. I am certainly not condemning organized religion completely. Being who I am, its just not for me.

So I realized, it is possible, albeit unusual, to maybe be alone and be Jewish.

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