Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why are Schul and a gay club more fun than Mass?

Something that I’ve always found interesting is the differences between traditional Christian practices and view-points and those of traditional Jews. The comparison is fascinating for a number of reasons. One is that both faiths are relatively closely related, one being an out-growth from the other. Another reason is to see how differently a number of things are treated by religious Jews as compared to their Christian brethren. The examples are copious and I will not go into them now. The reason why I mention the differences is that I’d often noticed that I tend to be more accepting of Jewish religiosity.

I remember, for example, going to Schul (synagogue) one time with a Jewish friend of mine who was about to get married. In the Schul the men stood downstairs and the women stood upstairs. The original reason was something at least vaguely derogatory towards women, I’m sure, but the friend of mine joked that the reason was so that the women could check out the guys. Indeed, sure enough, after the service he got asked about the ‘fresh meat’ standing next to him and had to disappoint by informing the girls that I was not kosher. The service was fascinating to me. In particular, I remember the moment when my friend had to go up and read from the Torah as part of the preparations for marriage. That and the bit when the women got to throw lollies at the guys downstairs, with the children running around, screaming and grabbing as much of the thrown lollies as they could get they paws on. You wouldn’t see that in a cathedral.

Obviously, a big part of the reason why I find it easier to deal with Jewish religious traditions is that I had never had to go through the process of breaking away from the Jewish faith. A process like that is always going to make it difficult to then go back and view one’s past faith dispassionately – just like it is always difficult to consider an ex-girlfriend completely objectively. However, there is another reason why I think I would prefer to stand in a synagogue during their service than to cope with Mass.

More years ago than I care to count I used to occasionally go to nightclubs. I didn’t like it as I always felt somewhat put upon by the unspoken rule that nightclubs were for picking up. Anyway, one time I and some friends of mine went to a gay nightclub. I have no idea how – I guess this was an example of the famed gaydar – but the guys there knew immediately that I wasn’t gay and that was fine – I was as off-limits as I was to Jewish chicks who were traditional enough not to date goys. The result was that I could just enjoy the dancing without feeling any pressure to do anything else – I had a great time. Schul was just the same – I knew that no-one would try to convert me or push their beliefs upon me in any way. Indeed, given what I know of Jewish traditions, if I had told the Rabbi that I wanted to convert, he would be obliged to be unnaturally unpleasant to me – not because he had something against me converting but just to make sure that I was serious. And I never did pick up at a nightclub.


At 8/2/06 12:52 pm, Blogger Valerie Kabov said...

you may be surprised to learn that Jews feel as at ease at schul as you did (NB they were those children catching lollies, once upon a time). As for nightclubs (as with anything for that matter) you are in control of your attitude -- and if you choose to have fun, then you will -- that is what i found always -- you are far more responsible for the environment that you are in than anyone else.

many ciaos


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