A Godless Passover

It’s only fitting for two religions to celebrate Passover. For me, Passover represents twos. It’s true and false, disgusting and uplifting, religious and secular, traditional and nontraditional.

There is no historical or archaeological evidence that Moses existed, that Israelites were slaves in Egypt, or that they wandered in the desert for 40 years. And that’s the good news, because the Passover story of the Exodus is inhumane: God brought 10 plagues to Egypt, the last of which was killing innocent first-born Egyptian sons. God also told the Israelites to kill a lamb and put its blood on their doors so God would know not to kill first-born Israeli sons. (You’d think an all-knowing God would know where the Israelites lived without blood markers.) The traditional God of both Judaism and Christianity thrives on and even requires the blood sacrifice of innocent animals and humans. God provided an escape route from Egypt for the Israelites by parting a sea and drowning all the Egyptians in pursuit. These Israelites escaped, only to die in the desert, but their descendents reached the Promised Land by killing inhabitants along the way. I don’t care to participate in a Passover seder meal where we tell this story and thank God for what he did for his “chosen” people.

Yet I still celebrate Passover, though not the one above, as in my youth. For me now, Passover is more about the present and future than about the past. The Society for Humanistic Judaism, one of 10 member organizations of the Secular Coalition for America, offers a godless Haggadah (book read during the Passover meal) that is consistent with my views.

Continue reading (via "On Faith)

 

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Comments

Here in Australia, it's called "passout" because we've got an extra holiday in the form of a veterans day falling in the midst of it all, meaning extra days off!! So we're getting drunk.
Ok-then how do certain ethnic groups begin these "cultural rituals" without a ridiculous religious origin being the basis of them?
The "common ancestry" being???
Correction: Caucasians, Asians, then
So, it sounds like you identify with the "ethnic element" of this "identity" you speak of. But then again, are you calling yourself that because being "jewish" runs in the family, or because there "is" an "ethnicity" called "Jews". This is what I am trying to get explained.
There was a time when Jews were allowed to recruit new members to their religion. http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2002/07/The-More-Jews-The-Better... Jewish proselytizing was so successful, it's estimated that by the first century C.E. fully 10 percent of the Roman Empire was Jewish, close to 8 million people. Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2002/07/The-More-Jews-The-Better...
John, for the record, most Jews do have a common ancestry, and that is why they consider it an ethnicity. Beyond that, ignoring religion, it becomes a culture thing, which also leads to ethnic backgrounds.
Commercial chicken eggs are unfertilized. Birds menstruate, just as other mammals do, when their eggs are not fertilized by males. Those eggs are the eggs people eat, and are not aborted chicks, or fetuses.
"... Because it "evolved" as any other race did (e.g. the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, Native Americans, etc.)?"
Those first three aren't races.
I don't know what's worse, celebrating imaginary dead firstborn babies, or slaughtering real trees to put in the living room. If it makes you feel better, both Christianity and Judaism boil real live chicken fetuses every spring. Holidays are creepy.
Why does it have to be either a religion or a race? Consider it a cultural identity. Cultures have their own traditions, habits, rituals, and codes - and they aren't necessarily tied to either a religion or a race.
John, Calling oneself Jewish is identifying with a group. It is identity. It is personal. What Herb describes is very similar to my own personal experience of passover in my family. We've been non-religious for three generations, but we've always identified as Jews. Why? Well, my grandparents stopped going to temple, but they were still discriminated against because of their "religion". They identified as Jews and carried on jewish traditions and ceremonies in evolving forms because what else were they going to do, adopt holiday celebrations from a completely different religious tradition?
I have gone back and forth over the years as to whether I should continue to identify as a jew. I am unabashedly athiest and have been my entire life. I personally have grown up in a society mostly absent of overt discrimination against me for my jewish identification (unlike generations before me). Why should it matter what I call myself, and if the religious baggage associated with that term are so antithetical to my own philosophy, why should I identify with it at all. The answer I always come back to is that it is my ancestry. It is who I am because it is who my ancestors were, and it is a part (no matter how small) of how I arrived at this place and time.
I am adamant that I am the gate keeper of what I mean when I say that I am Jewish, and I am not shy to repeat our familiar refrain that we are "gastronomic Jews".
But practically speaking, I continue to be a Jew because it would feel like I am converting to something else, abandoning my heritage, if I were to start celebrating christmas instead of hanukka or easter instead of passover, or making up some brand new holidays of my own design. I prefer to modify the old traditions to fit my own philosophy and thus to be true to both.
I have used humanist haggadah's for years.
The above commentary makes me bring forth a question in my mind on the whole "nature" of this "Jewish" thing. Is "being Jewish" a religion, or a race? If its just a religion, its as full of crap as ALL religions are (just a little less obnoxious in the "prosletyzing/evangelism" area!). On the other hand, if its a race (i.e. "ethnicity"). what makes it so? Because a "god" (that allegedly did all the crap mentioned in this commentary!) said so? Because it has its own language, and genetic disease? Because it "evolved" as any other race did (e.g. the Chinese, Japanese, Europeans, Native Americans, etc.)? Makes me wonder. If a person is "Jewish", I genuinely wonder what the "claim" is that makes one that, and why some kind of "ritual" is involved because one is such. Please clarify.

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