Livin' on a prayer...
By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricist)
Happy Passover, dear readers of Friday Crazytown. And Happy Easter if you’re still reading this on Sunday. Oh wait, today is something Christian too, isn’t it? Good Friday? TGIF to you all!
This past Tuesday on the second night of Passover I held my now annual Seder dinner. I’m not a religious person. I was raised Jewish, but over the years I have evolved from Jew, to agnostic, to full-blown atheist. But this Seder has become a tradition with me and my friends, and I am big on tradition – just not when it comes to apocryphal ghost stories and fairy tales.
I haven’t voluntarily attended religious services since I was a freshman in college. I have gone to mandatory funerals or bar mitzvahs since then but never for any religious holiday I could decline. This fact enrages my mother, who is very proud of her faith (unlike my father, who calls religion “the best story ever sold”).
Last week I reposted a post of mine from last year when my grandfather passed away containing the eulogy I wrote for his funeral. Last weekend I was back home in Delaware to attend his tombstone unveiling, the Jewish tradition of Matzevah that occurs one year after death. Needless to say, there has been a lot of religion and faith in my life in the past few weeks, and it has gotten me thinking about the role of religion and spirituality in my life.
When I was home this past weekend my mother scolded me for the fact that I don’t believe in God (and yes, it’s “God.” Not “G-d.” I’d like to think that if there was a higher power they wouldn’t be offended if you spelt out the term you use to refer to them – one of the many absurdities of religion) and that I don’t attend services. “That’s not how I raised you” she said, “and you have to do things the way you were raised.”
I replied: “let me take the time to explain to you the eight things that are wrong with that sentence.”
I don’t believe in God, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I believe in provable facts. Science. I believe in Neil deGrasse Tyson. But, I do believe in tradition. In culture. In historical background.
What makes me Jewish, why I have a traditional Seder every year without believing in the religious aspects, is that I believe there is a culture to being Jewish. The same way that tradition and culture makes someone Italian or Irish or Puerto Rican (I can say that – my best friend is Puerto Rican). There is a style of Jewish music. There is a style of Jewish food. And art, and so on. That’s my personal identity. Color me a humanist, but I believe I can be culturally Jewish and atheist at the same time.
So Happy Passover and chag sameach to all my fellow chosen people, even though no one chose you for anything except to be the target of genocide and exile for most of the history of civilization. That is, after all why we commemorate Passover in the first place.
GREGORY JACOBS-ROSEMAN is a composer/lyricist and theatrical sound designer. His musical Save The Date: A Wedding Road-Trip Musical won the Overall Excellence Award for a Musical in the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. gregjr.com
EMAIL HIM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR