A friend of mine emailed me this:
I really wanted to talk to you in person but everything is so busy (which is all good).
…I don’t like being called “secular” or “non-observant.” To me, Orthodox means you keep kosher, the laws of family purity [mikveh], and Shabbos, which I know is simplified. The word “Orthodox” to me is not as offensive as the word “non-observant” which isn’t totally true. My Reform and Conservative Jewish friends (classified by their shuls) practice Judaism in their own way. Maybe it is not okay to pick and choose but any of them make a contribution to the general society and to the Jewish community. I see frum [observant] Jews upset with other frum Jews that are different from them. I feel if you are not accepting, you are judging people, and that is wrong. That is why I don’t like the word “non-observant” or “secular.” I totally agree with your blog. I just wanted you to understand that putting anyone in a box is not good. The outreach groups [JFX, JLC, Aish, Chabad] have totally brought all Jews together. So thank you! What a Mitzvah.
… It seems like when I was in Israel everyone was going on their own journey. Some sheitels [wigs] and some scarves, some curly peyos [sidelocks] and some not. Some wear kippahs and keep kosher and some just keep kosher. …But I realize there is tension between frum and secular.
…Everyone makes their own contribution. It hurts me that Jews don’t get along. Can’t we all just get along?? I do believe there are Jews that don’t observe anything. This hurts me very much. Maybe if I must in a “box” I should be “traditional” but I really don’t mind being called Conservative because I conserve what I can, and outreach groups have helped me not stay still but strive to do more.
Would you agree with my friend’s assessment?
If you are not Orthodox, is there a name for you? Are “non-Orthodox,” “secular,” or “non-observant” offensive?