I Am Orthodox, Don’t Strip Me of My Label

Amazing video, right?

I loved it, simple beautiful clear message, let’s get rid of the labels and then there will be no more hate, kumbaya!

Ostensibly, the video is attempting to unify us by breaking down the barriers that separate and divide us as a nation. I shared it immediately after first viewing it, but something nagged at me, so I watched it again and realized that as much as I would love to boil down the problem of hate and label it as a labeling issue, it just isn’t the core of the problem.The desire in this generation to rid ourselves of labeling is what led us to the excessive political correctness which pervades our society today.

Labels serve a purpose. They allow us to clearly delineate different cultures, religious beliefs, and societies. Diversity is not a bad thing. What makes Judaism beautiful is the many different approaches that exist (70 “panim  laTorah”) each shining like another facet of a diamond reflecting the light at a different angle. Having a label will not define everything there is to a person, but it represents certain aspects of one’s identity. If my being Orthodox will cause another sect of Judaism to hate me, the problem lies not in the label, but in the lack of respect and tolerance for a different philosophy or way of life that I might have. Removing labels will not solve the problem. There will always be differences of opinion and if we don’t name them the reality won’t change. We need to learn to celebrate our differences, be proud of who we are and make room for other labels on the shelf. While a no frills society might sound great, its underlying message is that we can’t own our differences for that will cause others to hate us.

In addition, if you espouse such a philosophy we ought not label ourselves as Jews at all. For in doing so we are causing division and hatred that comes our way. In essence, it claims that Jews themselves are the cause of antisemitism by being “Jewish”, but this is utterly preposterous. We should be free to identify as Jews just like other religions and nations should be permitted to declare who they are without fear that in doing so they are bringing attention to their label which might cause hate.

Having different labels and espousing diversified philosophies which are at times polar opposites should be acceptable by name. Differences are not what cause hate. Hate is caused when we say that there is no room for difference. So go ahead label me Orthodox, just don’t hate me for it.

About the Author
Aliza Lipkin is a firm lover and believer in her country, her people and her G-d. She moved from the land of the free (America) to the home of the brave (Israel) 10 years ago and now resides with her family in Maaleh Adumim.