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Apparently, Christian "Bar Mitzvahs" are a thing now....


FaustianSlip

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Just ran across this article from the New York Times. It discusses the emerging trend of fundamentalist Christians appropriating Jewish traditions and symbology to throw "bar mitzvah" celebrations for their sons. An excerpt:

 

 

Quote
These days, though, mainline Protestants are borrowing from Jewish tradition. For example, Kevin Ibanez, a pastor at Sunrise Church in Rialto, Calif., started wondering along with his wife why there was no male equivalent to the quincineras thrown for girls in Hispanic families for their 15th birthdays. So they decided to give their son, Joshua, a Christian-inflected version of the bar mitzvah to help prepare him for adulthood. In the lead-up, Joshua studied Hebrew and the Scripture with a Messianic friend of the family’s. At the event, he wore a prayer shawl and sang the Sh’ma Yisrael.

 

Rabbi Eliot Pearlson of Temple Menorah, a traditional conservative synagogue in Miami Beach, tells me that he began to notice non-Jews borrowing the traditions and trappings of his faith roughly 20 years ago. He has encountered Christians holding seders, being married under chuppahs and wearing prayer shawls over their clothes. He says some Christians wear zizit with red thread rather than blue to symbolize the blood of Christ. And a growing number of evangelicals travel to Israel partly to obtain Jewish ritual objects like skullcaps and rams’ horns.

 

I don't even know what to say, except that this just infuriates me for all of the reasons discussed on other threads about faux Jews. Get your own frigging rituals and rites of passage, people. And besides, why not just use confirmation, which is an actual thing in a variety of Christian denominations? The idea of some Pentecostal kid getting up to the altar in a tallit, probably with no idea of just how incredibly offensive he's being (because it's not like his parents would tell him), just infuriates me. As for Rabbi Pearlson, who seems to be cool with this kind of thing (and praises Hagee and his ilk in their own appropriation of Judaica), he ought to be ashamed of himself. I wouldn't attend the synagogue or trust the halachic decisions of a rabbi who kept those kinds of ties with fundamentalist Christians. Not on a bet.

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Sadly, there is no shortage of groups who will happily claim that the "normal" (i.e. regular, world-recognized, mainstream, main) Jewish people are not the "real" Jews or are doing it wrong, and in fact it's their own group who are the real deal.

These newly-adopting evangelicals might not be quite that far out on the fringe, but cultural appropriation often works like that. Some group has something interesting, well, they suck, but hey, WE took their thing and improved on it, y'know? So quite possibly, "well, the Jewish traditions are all fine and great and our tradition too (except often not, when it comes to anything that happened after the split which is most modern stuff, but hey!) but they're just not quite there, not quite fully REALIZED, y'know, they were doing so well but they just lack the Jesus! We put the Jesus in..."

etc.

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I thought evangelicals were supposed to dislike Jews for being 'wrong'?

I can see why a biblical literalist gets tired of ignoring half of the old testament.

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I'm willing to give them the traditional breaking of the glass at a Jewish wedding but they would have to shout "Mazel Tov!" after the glass is stomped on. Be it a solemn ceremony or a more light-hearted one, stomping on the glass is always fun. A Bar Mitzvah though? I'm not quite so generous.

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Could they not do something like a confirmation? I hate the appropriation of religious traditions, even though I'm of no faith myself.

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Would this be something that Doug (the Tool) be interested in? Another chance to butcher a culture and a chance to play dress up!

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Call me crazy, but in my ELCA Lutheran church we were confirmed and called it a day. I wouldn't expect to see a Jewish kid confirmed nor would I expect to see a Christian kid with a bar mitzvah.

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Could they not do something like a confirmation? I hate the appropriation of religious traditions, even though I'm of no faith myself.

I agree! I had a confirmation, almost every protestant child in Germany gets one around their 14th birthday. There's no need to "steal" from other religions.

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I posted that article in another thread! :) Glad to see people are discussing it because I was certainly baffled by the whole thing.

(Though, I gotta say, I got a kick out of the title "Oy Vey Christian Soldiers" when I saw it in the index. "OMG, Mr Burps, this is totally going to be about fake Jews!!! Did you know they're doing Passover now?")

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Why even bother. It's not like they will be treated like adults afterwards. They will still live at home, sleep in bunk beds with their younger brothers even if they are 30. Even when they do marry and knock up their wife, they still "play" by Daddy's rules.....

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There was a Christian bar mitzvah featured on TLC's The Sisterhood. (In this case, it was a slightly different situation since the father of the boy was born and raised Jewish, then converted to Christianity as an adult. Religiously, the family was still faux Jewish because they believe in Jesus.) It was as ridiculous and offensive as you would expect, and all of the guests felt the same way.

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Get your own frigging rituals and rites of passage, people.

Right-o! For centuries, Lutherans have used the rite of confirmation to offer 13- and 14-year-olds the privilege of declaring their faith in God, and permitting them to join adults at the Communion rail.

And besides, why not just use confirmation, which is an actual thing in a variety of Christian denominations?

There you have it, there you are. The problems begin when denominations decide that Baptism is not a gift God gives us, but our own gift back to God, showing God with are with God, look at us!

You tell a child as the child grows that the child has been baptized into the family of God, you teach the child that a fundamental part of taking Communion is knowing exactly what one is doing and why and what the sacrament gives to the partaker.

Then the child makes her/his profession of faith and is welcomed in as a full, confirmed, communicant member - rite of passage, done and done.

When the extremist/fundamentalists refuse that, they're left with nothing and they turn to Judaism for a rite. Are they too proud to acknowledge that the traditional denominations have it right? I'd guess that.

I know that the facts vary w/r/t Roman Catholicism and I have no idea about Episcopalianism nor Orthodoxy. Once again, I'm so grateful to have been raised Lutheran, even if I'm now Luutheran (big dash of UU in there)!

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I agree with MamaJuneBug, it's a lack of ritual in their own religion that has led them to adopt Jewish ritual. There seems to be a human need for ritual as part of a spiritual experience. As they've rejected the usual Christian rituals and aren't bright enough to come up with their own, they appropriate the "Biblical" Jewish rites. Of course, Christians have been doing this for millenia- many RC rituals are Christianized versions of pagan rites.

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I'm just going to repost this thing I wrote in the Faux Jews Passover thread because I still feel strongly about this topic:

Bar mitzvahs for non-Jews don't make any sense. Contrary to popular belief, the religious significance of the bar mitzvah isn't that the kid becomes a man by reading from the Torah. The kid is just eligible to read from the Torah because he's reached the age where the 613 mitzvot FOR JEWS apply to him now and he can be counted in a minyan. (This is the same definition as a bat mitzvah but being applied to girls obviously and depending on the rigidity of the synagogue they may or may not be counted in a minyan.)

Obviously now most kids get some sort of ceremony and giant party when they become B'nai Mitzvah, but that's not what "makes them a man" according to Jewish law. It's just the simple fact that they are a Jew that turned 13.

The same thing goes for Christians wearing tzitzis or keeping kosher during Passovr or whatever. These are the 613 mitzvot that connect the Jewish people and if you aren't bound by them, doing whatever you're doing isn't going to make you any more "Godly". There are the 7 laws of Noach to follow for everyone else. Stick to those.

If these people actually researched anything about Jewish law and traditions instead of just grabbing what they thought seemed "fun" or "the most Jewish" or whatever, they would realize the innate hypocrisy in everything that they're doing.

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Would this be something that Doug (the Tool) be interested in? Another chance to butcher a culture and a chance to play dress up!

Doug the Tool's own father was born Jewish and converted to evangelical Christianity (Recontructionism) as an adult. I'm not sure if his mother was also born Jewish, one quick hit on google suggests she was? (If so, then by traditional rules ol' Doug the Tool HIMSELF would be Jewish, so he could become a BT, that would be quite the change...)

Either way though, you'd think maybe he has contact with other branches of the family who didn't convert to Christianity, makes me wonder if he does and if so, how that relationship goes, considering just how high profile he is.

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Seriously???? Cant they just use a Christian tradition like confirmation, or make up their own tradition??? They are not Jewish!

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I'm with everyone else: If a child was baptized as a Christian as an infant, why not have a confirmation as a young adult?

My Baptist relatives were baptized in their early teens, so why would a denomination that practices "adult baptism" need a fake bar mitzvah as well?

My denomination (UU) practices baby dedications (in which the congregation commits to joining the baby's family in giving him/her love and support) and affirmation ceremonies for the young teens who want to become full members of the congregation.

I was a bit taken aback when I read about secular (stljewishlight.com/special_sections/ohr_chadash/article_edc4f804-71f1-11e1-8a1d-001871e3ce6c.html) "faux mitzvahs, big parties for gentile 13-year-olds who feel they're missing out on the fun of their Jewish friends' big celebrations. The pseudo-Jewish appropriation of the fundie style ones seems so much worse.

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But but but, confirmation's for ebil Catholics!!! And yes, Lutheranism is far too Catholic-like and worst of all, liberal, for most evangelicals. Basically any denomination that uses vestments and a liturgical calendar = ungodly.

Also why am I not surprised to see no mention of bat mitzvahs? Of course girls aren't worth enough to steal someone else's tradition for.

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But but but, confirmation's for ebil Catholics!!! And yes, Lutheranism is far too Catholic-like and worst of all, liberal, for most evangelicals. Basically any denomination that uses vestments and a liturgical calendar = ungodly.

Also why am I not surprised to see no mention of bat mitzvahs? Of course girls aren't worth enough to steal someone else's tradition for.

So true! Well, the original article did mention the quinceanera, the "sweet 15" party that celebrates a Latina girl's becoming a "young lady," and says that the Latino community has no equivalent for boys.

I was once invited to a "quince" (wasn't able to attend) that began with a Mass prior to the party, so there often can be a religious element.

The 1990 movie "Sweet 15", IIRC, mentions girls doing community service projects as part of their quinceanera preparation--not dissimilar to the kinds of projects other Catholic kids may do in anticipation of their confirmations.

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It seems odd to me that the article picks up on Quinceaneras when a lot of latin@ teens would have had a confirmation too? A quinceanera isn't a religious rite so I don't understand why they used a religious rite (the bar mitzvah)? Just throw a party, geez.

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Time for a relaunch of the 'coming out' parties eligible young ladies had in ye olden days when every thing was better. Or is that too gay sounding?

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