My Judaism

Wesley - Missoula, Montana
Entered on November 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Many people who know me know that I am an atheist. They should also know that I am a Jew. Now the questions get asked. “How can you be Jewish and not believe in God?” This is a very good question and a very important one.

In the US, Christianity defines our collective culture. It is inescapable. The difference between Judaism and Christianity, besides the set of beliefs, is that Christianity is a religion and Judaism is more than that. Judaism is also a culture; we are a people bound by tradition and history. Judaism is more that praying at Temple or the Synagogue. It is a way of life. Judaism is a set of religious principals as well as it is a set of dietary laws, dress codes and language. We have our own calendar and our days are different. Our holidays are more than religious. They celebrate times of a year, News Years and the Spring harvest, for example, as well as historical events, such as Hannukah.

For me, Judaism is just the cultural aspect. I do not pray, I do not believe in God (if I did I would have written G-d). For me, Judaism is a Seder during Pesach; it is a festive dinner with family and friends during Hannukah and all of us gathering around lighting the candles and eating our latkes. Judaism for me is not eating pork and wearing my yarmulke during the High Holidays. I often get asked , “Why, if you’re not religious, do you wear that hat thing?” First of all, I tell them it is a kippa or a yarmulke. Then I tell them why.

I wear my yarmulke on the High Holidays, Hannukah, Pesach (Passover), Rosh Hashanah, the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim) and Yom Kippur, because it is my way of identifying who I am. I do not wear it to show respect to God, I wear it to show the world I am Jewish. On all other days I do not feel it necessary to parade my Judaism around, but I on holidays I feel I must. Everyone knows when it is Christmas and Easter. These holidays are just as important, except Hannukah. I wear my yarmulke to show the world I am Jewish and this is a Jewish holiday. I wear my yarmulke to show the world that there are different people all around them, to reaffirm my cultural identity,