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NFTY-MAR: Musings on Mechina

By Ben Soofer, NFTY-MAR Eastern Membership Vice President

This is a Haiku
A poem from me to you,
About what it means

To be a cool Jew
Understanding and kindness
Jewish ethics, traits, morals,

But what does it mean?
There’s no simple way to answer,
It is a lifestyle

NFTY-MAR Board @ Mechina

Each person must find
The answers to their questions
Deep within oneself

Normally, I rhyme
But today I will refrain
I actually just

Got off of the train
Returning back from New York
Back from mechina.

It was really great
kinda like, a very first date.

And now I’m breaking this haiku,
Because I got board, speaking of,
I love MAR board!

Hello! My name is Ben Soofer, and I am NFTY-MAR’s Eastern Membership Vice President on regional board.  My board and I recently returned from Mechina, an awesome 5-day event for regional board members all over the nation. It was a great experience, and inspired parts of this blog post! This post contains excerpts from some of musings and writings that I wanted to share with you. I welcome your thoughts, responses, and a continued conversation about making taking our Jewish traditions and making them relevant to our lives today.

The bible, the ancient text, is unalterably opposed to homosexuality, going as far as to call it an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). Today, the gay rights movement has many of us questioning the bible’s judgment and disposition. I believe that a certain respect must be given to our bible and holy texts; however, little, if anything, in these great books should be take LITERALLY. Every generation, and every individual, must try to interpret it for themselves. We must take it upon ourselves to reflect deep within and come up with the right answer for us, based on our character and perception of what is right and what is wrong.

On birth control and abortion: in the book “What Is a Jew” it reads, “The Jewish religion has traditionally been opposed to birth control and abortion when practiced for purely selfish reasons.” But it goes on to say that if the baby may be deformed, or the baby cannot be supported, abortion is in fact “applauded.” Family is very important, and is the basis of Judaism.  Why do some chose to confine themselves with the literal version of what they are taught, and do not take it into a broader interpretation, without choosing for themselves what ethics and morals they hold dear?  Overall, many religions hold the same basic values; however some individuals hold it closer than others of the same faith.

Truthfully, the correct answers to these old questions will never be found, and people will continue to argue over pointless stories and different interpretations of a text that is over 1000 years old. As time changes, so does culture and human society. Why trap yourself in the rules of an ancient text and lose out on experiencing the life that God had given you the opportunity to experience?