Why I’m Not In Synagogue Today
- Posted by Leigh Drogen
- on September 17th, 2012
Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and I am on Fire Island with my family taking my first vacation in over a year. I am failing pretty bad at being on vacation, but at least I’m trying.
My family is currently in Synagogue, dressed in shorts and sandals as is customary here. I had my Bar-Mitzvah on the island when I was 13, it was the first time I ever really thought about religion and my feelings about it. I had dropped out of hebrew school at the age of 10, mostly because I was a nightmare for the teachers. Imagine an ADD kid who sat in school all week and then was told to sit through more on Saturday morning when he wanted to be playing tennis or hockey or digging in the back yard, hahahahaha, no chance. They asked my parents to keep me at home.
But the winter before I turned 13 my father asked me if I was going to have a Bar-Mitzvah. He isn’t really religious in any specific way, but he said it would mean a lot to him if I did. So I told him I would, but under no circumstances was I doing the ball room party thing, I was so terrified of those, I still am. We would have it on Fire Island and do a bonfire afterwards.
I had my Bar-Mitzvah after pretty much teaching myself to read Hebrew and I spent some decent time actually understanding what it was I was up there saying. I put it to the back of my mind that I didn’t believe in 95% of it. At 13 I was an atheist. Brian Green held more sway with me than any religious text. But I rationalized having a Bar-Mitzvah by telling myself that I was doing it for my father and for my community.
I don’t regret having a Bar-Mitzvah, I achieved what I wanted to achieve. My father has never pressed me to believe anything, but there is a good deal of Jewish guilt over the fact that “there are so few of us left”. It’s more of a cultural and blood line thing than religious.
But my feelings towards participating in organized religion of any kind have changed since then.
I’m not in synagogue today because I refuse to perpetuate the belief that “community” is primarily built around religion. Organized religion of all kinds is ON THE WHOLE extremely poisonous to this world. Yes, there are good aspects of religions of all kinds, but on the whole they create more division and suffering than just about anything else in this world. I refuse to be a part of that any longer.
I refuse to be part of what I believe is mass delusion. And for those that don’t believe but attend services anyway for the community or traditional aspect of the whole thing, a sense of wanting to be with like minded people, I reject that. We need community institutions separate from participating in a charade that just perpetuates itself through guilt.
I won’t set that bad example for anyone else, I won’t be a part of perpetuating that delusion, and as I look to have a family of my own in the future, I won’t put that on my kids.
The world will be a far better place when people don’t get together because they believe they have the true understanding of some higher power while everyone else on earth has a flawed one. Are you kidding me. And it is exactly this fact that proves none of them has a clue. They are all just as deluded as the Romans who prayed to Zeus, or the Aztecs who prayed to the sun god and sacrificed their own in the belief that it would find favor with their gods. The songs they sing in Synagogue today are no more truthful than the story of a turtle crawling out of the ocean with the world on its back.
It’s all bullshit, it’s all a massive waste of time that divides us instead of bringing us together. It’s about being a lemming and believing that someone else before you believed in it so it must have some validity. But it doesn’t, none of it does, because the guy before him believed that a turtle created the world and Ridley Scott believes that Jesus was an alien (Prometheus).
I have enough humility to know that I don’t have the right answer while the vast majority of other people on earth have the wrong one. What a way to live your life, believing you are right and the billions before you and amongst you are wrong. That’s insanity.
So instead of sitting in Synagogue today with people who are either deluding themselves, who believe they have the right answer, who believe they are the “chosen people”, or who simply want to be a part of something bigger than themselves but can’t find anything else to be a part of besides religion, I choose to go to the beach, to watch the waves, to reflet on the person I am, the person I want to be, the world I want to help create, and those around me I want to have an impact on, the choices I’ve made and those I hope to make.
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Leigh Drogen is the founder and chief investment officer of Surfview Capital, LLC, a New York based investment management firm employing an intermediate term long/short momentum strategy. More »
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