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Judaism or Lennonism?

by Rabbi Aaron Moss

  

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Question:

I don't want my children to be small-minded or fundamentalist, so I haven't given them a Jewish education. They have been brought up without any religion; they are free to choose whatever beliefs they like. I try to live by the words of John Lennon:

Imagine there's no countries,

It isn't hard to do,

Nothing to kill or die for,

No religion too,

Imagine all the people

living life in peace...

Isn't that what life is about?

Answer:

I admire your passion and idealism. You have obviously given some thought to your children's moral future, which is a credit to you. You are free to believe what you want and teach your children what you feel is right. But I don't see how you are any less closed-minded than any other fundamentalist.

You say you have brought up your children without religion because you don't want to force your ideals on them. But that is forcing your ideals on them! By not learning about Judaism, they have not been given the choice to explore their identities at the time of their life that will influence them the most - their youth. They didn't choose that - you did. You have decided their religion for them. They are Lennonists whether they like it or not.

And if that song is your bible, then they are being brought up in a much more closed-minded religion than Judaism.

You have only quoted one verse. But I think the last verse of the song is the most revealing. There it is made clear that John Lennon's view of the world is as closed-minded as the most narrow extremist. He writes:

You may say I'm a dreamer,

But I'm not the only one.

I hope some day you'll join us,

And the world will live as one.

In other words, there is "you" and there is "us". You are the unenlightened ones. We have found the truth. But hopefully one day you will become one of us too. Only then can the world live as one. Sound familiar?

Contrast this with Judaism's view that not everyone has to be Jewish. A non-Jew can live a perfectly fulfilling and meaningful life while remaining a non-Jew - they don't have to join us. What can make us live as one is the recognition that we are all created by the same G-d. But we don't all have to serve Him in the same way.

We each choose a value system to live by and to teach our children. Whether you call it religion or something else makes little difference - it is a particular way of looking at the world. But can you imagine a religion that isn't so narrow to believe that everyone has to join it?

It's easy if you try.


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Response to Lennon Song-Judaism

Posted by: Anonymous, Pierce Co, GA on Aug 07, 2008

To the mother who is raising her children with no concept of religion, Judaism or otherwise, and letting them be free to decide at a some point: I am a product of a Jewish mother and Christian father in the 1960's. My parents (mostly my mother) had the same philosophy. She was a free thinker and had similar views on religion and child rearing as you do. I'm sure she had good intentions. I can tell you that I am now in my late 40's and struggled almost my entire life to understand G-d, religions, truths, prayer, the list goes on. I have been to numerous churches of different faiths trying to find something but not knowing what I was searching for. In my late 30's, I took a couple of classes on Judaism at a local JCC. I figured I tried everything else why not look in my own backyard. I can tell you it was as if the lightbulb had finally been turned on after a few decades of being shut off. Many things started to click and for the first time in my life I started to understand some of ideals and concepts that were never explained or taught to me before. I started attending synagogues and eventually connected to one in my community. It was a long journey and I still struggle sometimes to understand things but I feel much more connected to G-d then I ever had in my lifetime. I truly believe that raising a child with absolutely no religious instruction is a great disservice to that child. Even had I been taught some of both (Judaism&Christianity) it would have set some type of path for my young mind to follow and explore. With some spiritual guidance and instruction, I believe I would not have had such a confusing and sometimes angry struggle as an adult to find my place in the world. Please reconsider- from one who has beeen there.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.