Denying your Judaism: You’re not the only one

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This past Monday afternoon, while walking out of a restaurant with my lunch in hand, I spotted a table of Chabad guys with t’fillin (phylacteries) in hand.

My first thought: Don’t make eye contact. Please, don’t make eye contact.

What is wrong with me? I couldn’t really place why I had done this until I read this article in the Forward. The article is about a woman in Brooklyn who was approached by a religious man asking her if she wanted to shake a lulav and etrog for Sukkot. Instead of saying yes or no, she simply denied that she was Jewish.

There’s my answer. I didn’t want to be faced with this awkward situation of me denying my Judaism. I might disagree with a lot of Chabad principles, but surely asking people to fulfill one mitzvah isn’t a bad thing.

There is a great discussion going on right now on the MJL website about the merits of Chabad. Maybe the discussion can shift a bit to talk about why so many Jews walk past Chabadniks without putting on t’fillin. After all, the mitzvah is probably more important than your personal opinions towards Chabad.

Posted on October 16, 2008

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