Saturday, November 28, 2009

Xtianity inside info for the Jew...

As I was commenting on the comments for another post, I began explaining some information about the various differences and lack thereof between protestant denominations. I will add a little something of what I know about Catholicism. After all, my Jewish friends and acquaintances are always asking me about these things. I think it's about time I blogged it.

As a former protestant, who even went to a protestant college, there really is no difference between most of the denominations and often two of the same denomination are nothing alike. For example, a black baptist church is NOTHING like the right wing fundamentalist baptist church I used to attend where everyone was white. I bet the women wear pants at the black baptist church. I wore pants to church one Sunday and I got more looks than I did when I wore a pantsuit to an Orthodox shul early in my conversion.

Now there was a guy in my college whose family was with their local Free Methodist church. So, I, the analytical girl that I am, had to ask what is the difference. Well, at one point churches or maybe just Methodist churches charged for seat or didn't let blacks in or something. Free Methodist was the first group to do this.

The Xtian college I went to was Weslyan which is a kind of Methodist. Now, as mentioned before, Methodist... Baptist... whatever... Actually, we didn't have a "dress code" like you will see that I encountered in the Baptist world. However, I don't remember problems with girls wearing short skirts or anything. Most of us wore baggy jeans and a t-shirt or sweatshirt.

As alluded to above, dress code changes as greatly across the spectrum of churches as it does across the spectrum of synagogues. The right wing fundamentalist baptist church where I found myself for the first three years of high school had a dress code similar to the Orthodox one.

One differences was that we didn't have to cover our elbows but, we did have to cover our shoulders because those were considered too sexy. I once saw a girl on a date in a kosher restaurant wearing a long sleeved shirt with the shoulders cut out. I can just imagine her defense, "well, my elbows are covered." I was so embarassed, as I was with an Xtian friend who said, "I thought Jewish girls were supposed to cover up?"

The rules regarding skirts and skirt lengths were the same. The skirt was supposed to be to the knee or lower and slits should be only below the knee. It's unfortunate that this seems to only be in theory in the Orthodox world, as I frequently see the super tight jeans skirt, you know the one I mean, above the knee with a slit in the back that goes waaaaaaaaaaaay up.

I promised you I would speak about Catholicism. My mother was raised Catholic and gram, who lived with us, still practiced while, my mother lapsed in her practice. So, I should know more about it, but, I don't really know much. The Catholics pray to saints and light candles. Their churches are large and echo a lot. They also smell funny. I think it's the candles and the old ladies' perfume. Catholics are the ones who make a big deal about Mary. Whereas, for the protestants, she is just a character in the story.

A lot of people send their kids to Catholic school, not because they are religious, but because they don't want their kids in the public school. This is where the misconception comes about that non-Jews are not religious and don't have required dress codes. Jews have told me, "but, the Catholic girls wear such short skirts..." Yes, but, these are not religious people letting thier daughters go about like this. I am, though, kind of surprised the schools don't hold a higher standard. I guess the schools just want the money.

Perhaps, we have just as many identifications in Judaism. However, we have these umbrellas: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Think about it though, how many kinds of Orthodox are there? Well, there's MO liberal, MO machmir, Shomer Mitzvos, Carlebachian, Yeshivish, Chabad-those who believe the rebbe was moshiach, Chabad-those who don't believe the rebbe was moshiach, whatever variation in the sephardic world and then we get into allllllllllllllll the types of Chasidic, as well as people who proclaim, "I don't fit into any group but, I'm Orthodox." I, of course, have no clue about whatever breakdowns might exist for the other umbrellas I mentioned.


  1. ..past couple of days I've actually been wondering about Methodism because of the hospital next to Barnes and Noble on 7th avenue.

    ..anyway, one distinction that jews have which is surprizingly not as common among Christians is the schism between east and west. I mean, I've met a lot of Arab Christians in Israel, but they're far from as mainstream as the Jews from Arab countries are in the Jewish world (I mean, there used to be big beef with the Byzantine Church, but that was quite a while ago).

  2. I agree with your point regarding Non-Catholics or Non-Religious using the Catholic education system for the better education system that it usually offers as opposed to the public system speaking from an Australian point of view and someone who attended such a school.

  3. The Curmudgeolnly Israeli Giyoret says:

    I suggest anyone searching for a concise, funny description of Protestant sectarianism check out Garrison Keillor's "Lake Wobegone Days", the chapter entitled "Protestant".

  4. I attended a Catholic university after frum schools my whole life and was SHOCKED by the dress of the students - tank tops,halters, tiny shorts and other fashion things I won't mention, but - many of these girls probably weren't Catholic or not seriously Catholic. I was also surprised when they were discussing what they were giving up for Lent.

  5. Sex or chocoalate are the two most popular choices to give up for lent. I'll be giving up chametz from now on for lent. hahaha.

    Catholic universities are not like what I mean when I say I went to an Xtian college. We had to go to chapel 3 times a week. Although, there were those who would, "slide and glide," "beep and leap," "bump and jump," or "scan and scram." We swiped out ID card in when were walking in so these were those who bucked the system. Actually, you only had to make 2/3 of the chapels each semester. I used to sit in the balcony and do my homework. I looked at other colleges that were even stricter.

    They state that female students must wear knee length skirts or dresses to class. Actually, this was required on and off campus. They also don't mention here but the "six inch rule" was in effect. This is uber shomer negiah whereas you shouldn't even get within 6 inches of the opposite gender lest you should accidentally bump them.

    They had a special dating parlor. When I went on the college trip with my church. I was the one who said, "hey, this looks like a furniture store..." and not so quietly, unfortunately. Everyone looked and our guide giggling told me that was the nickname for it.

    You wonder how it was no problem for me to adjust to Orthodoxy....

  6. SC,
    I think Methodist is like Conservative Judaism, maybe Reform, in that people might believe but, they aren't religious like an Orthodox Jew. Fundamentalist right wingers are like the Orthodox.


    That's the college I went to. So much has changed since I left in the mid-90's. I lived in East Hall in every wing and on every floor but the fourth, actually. Freshman year I lived in 3rd main and 2nd new. Sophomore year I lived on 1st old and my last semester I lived in the basement in the "walnut" room. We called it the nut room and each of us three in the room picked out a nut. I was Almond. We also had Cashew. I can not for the life of me remember which nut my other roommate picked.

    There were actually some really good times at that school. Often, impromptu trips were taken to the truck stop in the middle of the night. We had 7 people in my 1985 Escort for one trip.

  8. Usually the notion that some people have in regard to selecting a school based upon the idea that private schools and/or private schools of a specific religious domination preform academically better than a Public school is not always the case.

    Yes whilst this can be true to an extent but it not always the case. How one perceives a school could also depend on the cirriculum offered by the school itself to set it apart from other educational institutions. Some may choose a school based upon the academic achievements of previous students etc

    Others may even like a specific school due the success rate of it's alumni. Or maybe some families like my own followed the tradition of previous generations before them by sending their children to the exact same school.

    Now as for someone who was educated in the Private School system and whom also attended a girls only school the length of our skirts were most certainly well below the knee, anything shorter was not allowed. Certain attire was only permitted to be worn during excursions and school camps. Senior students also had to wear stockings throughout the year, knee highs were most certainly not permitted.

    The list goes on. So at the end of the day such schools can only be compared to a certain extent. Any similarities they may of had in common with one another can be very few and far in between.