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Is lack of self-respect part of Judaism?


I expect some people may find my question offensive, but I hope you will be willing to entertain my inquiry. Having been raised Jewish and then seeing what other people and cultures are like as an adult, the only thing I can reliably consider “Jewish” is an almost unrelenting curiosity and spirit of inquiry. Growing up this was explained to me as “Jews value education”, but I consider that to be a bit of a shallow explanation. Anyway, it’s still tough for me to put my finger on exactly what I’m referring to, and how it came to be.

What I mean to say is, I hope you don’t take my post down for being hateful just because I asked if lack of self-respect is part of Judaism.

I guess it’s necessary to provide some supporting evidence that there is a lack of self-respect floating around in Jewish culture.

I’ll start with this sub. Supposedly Jews are God’s chosen people (meaning God chose the Jews to be in a covenant (sort of a contractual agreement) with Him/Her/It/Them), so we use that to… identify how many members of the subreddit there are? An all-powerful God chose our group as the important people who (in Conservative Judaism) must abide by the Ten Commandments and serve as an example of how to be good for everyone else, and we flip that extremely solemn and important obligation into… the number of people who have subscribed to a subreddit?

Is it necessary to show that we are capable of being clever at EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY that presents itself?

This brings me to my next example. The text on the front page is literally a joke? “A rabbi walks into a bar…”? The same text for r/islam just says “Islam”. For r/Christianity it just says “Christianity”. Perhaps the mods of this subreddit wanted to show off their tech expertise, but is it possible that maybe the mods of those subs simply have more genuine respect for their own religion and opted to not replace their own name with the start of a joke?

You talk and worry about anti-Semitism but you replaced the name of your own sub with the start of a joke.

When Jews can’t even state their own name and membership without falling into self-deprecation, is it a stretch to say that Jews perpetuate the spirit of the Holocaust? Is “Judaism” the new “Voldemort”? I don’t think it’s that crazy to wonder.

Since going off to college and becoming an adult (and becoming estranged from my family), I’ve stopped practicing Jewish traditions, but I may have become more Jewish in the best way possible. I have a strong sense of morals and I’m not afraid to speak up and question things. I’ve become much more creative and much more consciously and willingly good/ decent/ upstanding/ moral. I also try hard to work with other people and to be a functioning member of whatever team I’m a part of. I try to be good without being excessive and rigid about my definition of good, or overstepping my bounds. It requires a lot of consideration and I deserve a lot of respect for the effort I put in to calculating what is the right (moral) and productive thing to do at any given moment.

On the one hand, I think my Jewish heritage deserves some credit for this. I feel like all the thinking and analysis is kind of a uniquely Jewish thing. It’s not entirely unique to Judaism, but it’s well-known that when compared to overall frequency in the general population, at least in the US, the frequency of Jewish experts in many fields is much higher than one would expect.

On the other hand, I don’t really know any Jews that I respect, and the Jews that I do admire don’t really seem to feel that they are Jewish or identify with Judaism. I used to work in billing in the construction industry, which is similar to project management in that there is a lot of coordination required. There was a project manager for another company who had a Jewish-sounding name (same way you would call Christina a Christian-sounding name), and I thought he was productive, intelligent, good at his job, and pretty easy to work with, but he did not seem JEWISH to me. In contrast, there was a group of Jews who joined my floor hockey team and were a bit arrogant and generally not enjoyable to play with IMO. I could imagine them still celebrating Jewish holidays with their families and such.

Maybe the key variable is not which religion but religiosity- but I know practicing Christians and Muslims who I respect. But I don’t really know any Jews who take Judaism seriously who I respect.

Is there something I’m missing here? I know this has been a bit of a far-ranging post and I apologize if my questions are unclear. I guess what I would like to know most is, why do Jews so frequently (in my experience and perspective and I know that makes it hard to be scientific)- why do Jews so frequently either a) openly make a mockery of their Judaism or b) live down their Judaism but act like total assholes, such that Judaism itself is dishonored. As a kid I was (b) and now I am (a).

I feel like Judaism could and should claim its legacy of the many intelligent and pioneering thinkers who were Jewish. But if it does this (and I believe there are some Jews out there doing this but that it’s not a mainstream practice)- if it does this, if it does claim originality, critical thinking, morality, and inventiveness as its values- then I think it has a lot to reckon with internally.

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