I Like People With Strong Identities

I love people who know who they are and what their place is in life. I love strong identities. It makes relating to someone much easier. Generally, I prefer to deal with a committed Muslim than a wishy-washy Jew. With a devout Muslim, I know who I’m dealing with. I know most of their boundaries. I know what they stand for.

A Jew not rooted in Judaism, by contrast, can be all over the map. It takes a lot of effort to extract their values.

A Jew in a black suit and white shirt and a long beard, I know what to expect from such a creature. They’re going to be observant of Jewish law.

I dig women who dress like women and men who dress like men. I’m repelled when women act like men and men act like women. My stomach turns when Jews tell me that they’ll take communion in church even though they have no belief in Christianity.

I think I like myself more the more strongly I put myself in Judaism and I abide by those strictures. I know who I am and where I’m going. I have a concrete community. Most of life’s questions are settled once you commit to a way of life.

I find that in conflict, the person with the stronger belief tends to win out. Many people find orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims intimidating for this reason. The orthodox believer and practicioner isn’t going to constantly compromise out of convenience.

I’ve often found myself intimidated by authentic Orthodox Jews. They had a stability I did not have. They had direction and purpose and community. They were solid. By contrast, I felt like a leaf in the wind blown this way and that by my desires, by social conventions, by the whims of my friends and of the people I wanted to impress.

Non-Orthodox Jews often wonder, “Do Orthodox Jews think of us as real Jews?” Yet Orthodox Jews never wonder, “Do non-Orthodox Jews regard us as real Jews?”

Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Jews know who the real Jews are — the ones who observe the Torah aka the Orthodox.

I’ve spent most of the last 17 years in Orthodox Judaism and I’ve found Orthodox Jews have very little concern about non-Orthodox Jews. They don’t care what Reform rabbis say about them. They don’t care about trends in Conservative synagogue worship. When you know who you are and what you stand for you tend to have less patience for those less committed.

I don’t enjoy playing tennis with the net down. I don’t find Reform Judaism inspiring.

I don’t enjoy playing tennis with people below my ability and commitment. I prefer a challenge. By any yardstick, Orthodox Judaism is more of a challenge than non-Orthodox Judaism.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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