We were joined to break our fast last night by a secular liberal Israeli Turkish Jewish family. It was an interesting experience.
The father’s parents were Ladino speaking Sephardic Jews who had lived in Istanbul until 1969, their ancestors having sought refuge in Ottoman Turkey when they were expelled from Spain in 1492.
He spoke fluent Turkish, Hebrew and English, but not Ladino. His children spoke fluent English and Hebrew, but not Turkish.
Most interestingly, I thought, they were very proud of their Jewish heritage, but not religious at all. They would participate in Pentecost and Passover, yes, but purely in the way most people celebrate Christmas. Theirs, they said, was a cultural Judaism. Religion was not a part of their identity.
As it happens, I think that is the way of life of the majority of people. They may have a strong cultural identity, that to outsiders appears to have something to do with religion, but in day to day life, this thing we call truth or the path to God is immaterial.
I think our guests thought we were rather odd in this regard. Eccentrics through and through.