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A Confused Rainbow

During a university course on social sciences, the term “cognitive dissonance” was being taught. Our professor explained that a cognitive dissonance is a state of mental conflict. It’s a mental state of disagreement between two forces that we both want to abide.

She illustrated the concept with a few classic unoriginal examples - A young man who very badly wants to move to a new country but is fearful and feeling guilty about leaving a weary mother behind. (responsibility vs independence) Wanting to lose weight but… cake and so on. Right before the lecture ended she gave us a home assignment - to write a paper on a personal cognitive dissonance.

As she gave us the assignment I smiled to myself. You see this inner conflict had been boiling up in here all lecture long, and I was excited and somewhat relieved to be able to express it on paper. I knew exactly what I was going to write about.

My biggest dissonance.

Being a religious Jewish woman and the pride I feel for the LGBTQ community

On one hand my Jewish beliefs teach me that homosexuality is an abomination, a man mustn’t wear a woman’s dress and every day we make a blessing in gratitude to the gender we have been assigned to. Male on male intercourse is forbidden, seed may only be spilled into ones wife, and yeah, being any sort of gay is a no no.

On the other hand my western values teach that love is love, all people should be treated equally, regardless of who they are or love, there is nothing strange about questioning your identity and that same sex marriages are, well, how else to phrase this? Marriages.

I really find this clashing of beliefs, this cognitive conflict to be so difficult. Part of being religious is understanding that even the parts that you don’t believe in, you still must take on or its a matter of time until the religion will be hacked of it’s parts and crumble into nothing. If we believe that religion is G-d given, and we as man allow ourselves to alter it, the religion will keep on evolving until its no longer what G-d had in mind.

But. Like. Killing gays?! No no no.

I’m a total fan of how far the LGBTQ community has come, and I feel really really blessed that we don’t live in a time where we kill people who aren’t like us. I love the fact that my daughter wont fear difference when she grows because it will be as tolerated as the norm. Us Jews went through that 70 years ago in Europe and it wasn’t pretty. I think this community has done so much good to the world and has paved a road where love, acceptance and differences are all celebrated. It infuriates me to hear a gay man was stoned in the middle east, yet when I turn to my religion O know damn well that if this was 1500 years ago my religion would give this man the same fate.

So where do I stand?

I’ve written this paragraph and deleted it so many times because the truth is - I’m not sure.

In order to be a healthy orthodox Jew I must have a personal relationship with my religion. I don’t believe in thoughtless following, G-d wants a relationship with us, and as in all real relationships there will be times where we see eye to eye and times where we disagree. Dissonances are crucial because they show us where our lines are, they show us where our personal borders become stretched, and using these inner conflicts we can figure out how we feel about the world.

As of now I relate with both sides, respecting one and obliging to the other. Personally my line will forever be at harming (or killing, to be more specific) each other. The one thing I do know is I will treat both sides with respect, love and acceptance. I will not discourage or disrespect either of them for living their truth.

I will stand here proudly, with one foot in each camp, when I look around I don’t see so many other people here, but I know I’m not alone, and that their are others standing here in the middle conflicted with me.

Perhaps I can’t see them because they aren’t using their voices. But I have learned that feeling something and saying it - well that can be a dissonance too