typical American atheist: how can you be a secular Jew?

secular Jew: do you celebrate Christmas and Easter?

typical American atheist: yes

secular Jew: so it's exactly like that, except with Jewish holidays and culture

typical American atheist: but that's religious... help, i can't comprehend this

secular Jew: so i'm a secular Jew in the same sense that you're a secular Christian

typical American atheist: i'm not a secular Christian. i'm just a normal American atheist.

secular Jew: but you celebrate Christmas and Easter

typical American atheist: yeah but those are secular holidays

secular Jew: they're religious holidays that you observe in a secular way for cultural reasons, your culture being Christian

typical American atheist: no, my culture is atheist


@kittybecca Real talk, I'd love to be able to get away from Christian holidays, because they mostly don't hold any significance for me whatsoever beyond family-related trauma. There's sort of a mandatory celebration of a lot of Christian holidays in the US, and it's really frustrating. It'd be so nice to be able to choose what holidays to celebrate, but capitalism has to control every aspect of life, and most places don't provide any kind of accommodation for "alternative" holidays.

@ALWETP tell me about it. i live in the U.S. too. i was forced to know everything about christmas from a young age, even though it has never been my holiday.

@ALWETP at no point have i or anyone else in my family or any other member of my religion been able to avoid christmas in the United States. it's ubiquitous.

@kittybecca Yeah. Like, I like some aesthetic parts of it (lights reflecting off snow is pretty), but I haven't had the freedom to celebrate a holiday of my choosing at all in my entire life, so my adult life has been pretty much celebration free, aside from going to Seattle Pride for the first time this year. It's so gross and I hate it. Also, my last job required people to regularly work saturdays and sundays with no religious exemptions (because that's their way of 'not discriminating').

@ALWETP yep, before i became disabled, almost every job i had was like that. but it's a good thing "religious freedom" allows christians to discriminate against LGBT people.

@ALWETP i don't even know what a holiday of my choosing would look like. my continued identification with Judaism is largely based on the fact that Nazis don't care whether i identify with it or not.

@kittybecca Yeah, I only really started thinking about it when I went to Pride and realized "hey, it'd sure be nice if I didn't have to spend my hard earned unpaid time off to have a weekend off to celebrate a holiday that, if it was Christian, would automatically be time off anyway".

@ALWETP and unlike normative holidays, Pride is vital because it builds community and a sense of strength between people who get shit on everywhere else. the same is true of Jewish holidays in the Diaspora.

@kittybecca Yeah! I finally understood like... the "point" of holidays. Before that, it had always just felt like a thing where you have to spend extra time around family so they can be "accidentally" abusive and shitty to you, but hey, at least the aesthetics are nice, right? But like... Pride brought out so many strong emotions in me (not all of them good, admittedly), and that's... sort of the point? Emotional catharsis?

@ALWETP i most enjoyed Jewish holidays when i was younger and got to celebrate them with other Jewish kids. i've hated them since becoming an adult because my family just became increasingly isolated from any sort of community, and holidays with them just became what you were talking about w/ being abused by a small number of people.

community is really important. it's part of why i'm on the jews.international instance, to stave off alienation. i've also been on queer.town.

@kittybecca Yeah, I might enjoy Christian holidays more if I had had other friends who celebrated them in a slightly more secular way (I grew up in south Texas, and everyone celebrated every Christian holiday by going to religious services). My friends now all have to go back to their families for various reasons, but all dread it because it's all "not pissing off dad" reasons. So my holidays these days are generally spending time at home watching Netflix

@ALWETP I suppose LGBT gatherings are really a great analogy here - whether I go to Pride or not, I'm queer. Whether I go to an alternative to Pride or not, I'm still queer. Whether I go to support groups or not, I'm still queer. Whether I go to TDOR or not, I'm still queer. Whether I have a lot of queer friends or not, I'm still queer. Whether I like queer people or not, I'm queer. So I lean into my queer community, because queerphobes aren't going to treat me any better if I don't.

@ALWETP I haven't been leaning into Judaism as much in recent years, and so I've been trying to start doing that again, because no one is going to care if I don't. I'll always be a Jew, and hiding it is just delaying the inevitable, and potentially strengthening the reaction against it.

@ALWETP This is quite parallel to how I've felt about being queer my whole life; I didn't used to accept or be OK with it, but now I am.

@ALWETP Society chooses to other me based on my queerness, and society chooses to other me based on my parents and grandparents etc.. So I can embrace these forced identities or not.

@ALWETP And if I don't embrace them, society isn't going to get any less harsh. It might pretend to, it might be like "oh you're one of the good ones", but it'll keep abusing the shit out of me and eventually I'll have to learn the self-respect to say "fuck you."

@kittybecca Hell yeah! I've honestly always been really interested in applying leftism to religion because it's (recently) historically a conservative thing, and there are so many religions with leftism basically baked into them, since most religions emphasize community and taking care of each other. I'm a pretty hardcore atheist, but the cultures associated with a lot of religions are really interesting, tbh, and it's always nice to discuss them like this.

@ALWETP and yeah, emotional catharsis has always been a huge part of what i've gotten out of Jewish holidays, services, etc..

@kittybecca Yeah! They had THAT religious freedom (which is why I don't work there any more), but no other religious freedom. They tried to make a muslim woman take off her headscarf a bunch of times, but obnoxious white christian women waving their crosses in my face (like, literally assaulting me with them) is fine. I can't imagine being an atheist without seeing this bullshit and wanting to call it out, but there's a white atheist thing for blindly siding with evangelical Christians.

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