Staying Off Facebook for Election Week (And Probably Longer...) – Kveller
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Staying Off Facebook for Election Week (And Probably Longer…)

After a series of comments and discussions on my Facebook page about things ranging from vaccinations, breastfeeding, circumcision, and the opaqueness of the tznius clothing I wear, I decided to take a sort of break from Facebook.

This was several months ago, and it’s been good and bad. The good is that I’m less fixated on who’s saying what about me, I have more time on my hands (even since my accident when only one hand has been working for the most part), and I’m less stressed about public opinion, as it were. The bad is that I miss sharing articles I find interesting and thought provoking. I miss that kind of interaction in a positive way, but mostly I’m grateful to not have interaction in a negative way.

I have made two exceptions to my not-posting-articles-because-of-the-drama-that-ensues rule. One was by a friend and very thoughtful and progressive rabbi I know in Atlanta named Zev Farber. He published a really critical and call-to-arms piece demanding that the Orthodox community acknowledge the changing roles of women and address them in the spiritual best interest of the Jewish people. He was inspired, it should be noted, by his brave and incredibly articulate 15-year-old daughter who has rallied their local synagogue to hold a women’s service where women can, within the bounds of halacha (Jewish law), pray and chant and celebrate together.

The second exception was a fascinating and arguably complicated piece by a woman who became a man through surgical means (I believe in neuropsychology this is known as transsexual) but was still able to lactate and chose to breastfeed his (formerly her) baby. It has rocked the lactation world and brings up so many issues I can’t even begin to enumerate them.

Both articles were me testing the Facebook waters, I guess. I browsed some comments and remembered why I stopped reading comments and pulled back from Facebook. Of course there were positive and lovely comments, from both those who agreed with the articles and those who disagreed. There is discourse that I can tolerate when it’s not name-calling or rude.

However, the number of comments about how disgusting both articles were, how disgusting I was for posting them, and how dare I call myself a religious person if I posted them (as if religious people can’t post confrontational or “unreligious” things?) really confirmed for me what I discovered months ago: the Facebook world opens up dialogue in ways that I don’t always find productive.

Certain comments regarding the lactation transsexual chastised me for “promoting” homosexuality. (I don’t recall promoting homosexuality per se at all unless by posting it that counts as promoting it…) Other comments condemned gay people for even existing, and blamed me for “supporting” them. Um, I have gay friends and family and I guess I’m not interested in condemning them for being gay. Period. Sorry to disappoint!?

My larger point is that by posting articles such as these, I seem to rouse a segment of the population that really can’t tolerate liberals, as many comments accuse me of being a crazy liberal, and even accuse me of shirking my responsibility as a Jew to, for example, extol the virtues of Israel instead of my “liberal politics.”

(I happen to speak of Israel a lot, and even mentioned it recently in an Us Magazine feature on me as my favorite place to go in the world, ever. I also happen to support human rights in Israel and the world over; does that also bother people?)

With the election approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind people that Jews (and Christians and Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus and people of all religions) come in all flavors. Just because you’re religious doesn’t mean you are politically or socially conservative, and just because you’re an atheist or agnostic doesn’t mean you’re politically or socially liberal. Humans are very complicated and thank God we are.

I am the granddaughter of immigrants who worked in sweatshops. I was raised on Union politics, and my parents had sit-ins for black students to be allowed into schools and were tear-gassed in Washington DC protesting the Vietnam War. I was raised by public school teachers who struggled to make ends meet. I was taught to always help those with less than me; always always always help the stranger and the downtrodden. That’s how I was raised. And I make all sorts of life decisions consistent with those values, and some inconsistent with them.

I’m as complicated as all of you, and I don’t condemn anyone for being Republican, or atheist, or anything else I’m not. We don’t have to agree. But we also don’t need to fixate on all the ways we don’t agree. Which brings us back to my semi-Facebook strike which I think is still in effect. We certainly don’t need to fight on computers about the ways we differ.

No matter who wins the election and how genetically modified products get labeled or not (Prop 37 is a very big deal over here), I’m steering clear of Facebook for the rest of the week… unless Rabbi Farber writes something about how women in Judaism are effected by the outcome of the election. In which case, we’ll see; maybe I’ll consider posting it.

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