Which Way To Go?
Having grown up Jewish, I’ve been a:
Yes to bagels, cream cheese and lox….
No to synagogue, Shabbat and kosher…
Yes to surburbia, rock and roll and “Freedom!”
No to yarmulkes, Jewish organizations, and certainly no to Orthodox religion!
But Yes to Jewish identity, Jewish “geography”…
and No to beautiful Christmas trees….
Who Am I?
A woman, an American, a white girl from suburbia, and always in the background, no matter what, Jewish, whether I wanted it or not.
I used to hate it. I didn’t like the victimhood I saw in Jewish history. I didn’t want anything to do with that. It was TOO vulnerable. So I pushed it down.
And I pursued my American dreams. A great job, a handsome husband, children, success, and yes… even a white picket fence. I got some of it. At one time, all of it. Then there was divorce and my idea of the American dream dashed.
Somewhere along the way, after children, after the white picket fence, but before divorce, I found myself exploring,
Beauty. Warmth. Love. Joy. And much more….
Comfort In My Own Skin.
Over the next few decades,
I grew and grew in learning about Judaism, chassidus, holidays, customs, Jewish community…
It began with not eating pork and shellfish for 30 days. This was to honor the memory of my dear young Rabbi who had just passed away. Little did I know I had stepped off the high dive in a gentle descent (actually in ascent) to a wholly new, but ancient way of life.
It took another 20 years before I became kosher and then another year or so before I began observing Shabbat.
If you don’t know what that means, check out this scene in the Big Lebowski!
“… I’m Shomer Shabbos. Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means I don’t work, I don’t drive a car, I don’t f&#!ing ride in a car, I don’t handle money, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as sh#t don’t f&#!ing roll! Shomer Shabbos!”
So… Now To The Fence…
I took on the observances, yes. But who am I really? Do I really believe all this stuff?
Did G-d really give the Ten Commandments and the Torah to Moses and the Jewish people? Did the Sea really split? Is there really a G-d who is all powerful, all loving, and all wise? Is this all really true???!?
Hence the fence.
Someone recently shared an amazing story with me. He asked his Rabbi,
Q: Can you promise me that Judaism is real?
Q: Can you promise me that G-d exists?
You can stay on the fence your whole life. OR… you can
Make A Decision.
On the fence, you will never get married because you will never know 100% she is the right one for you. And … you can live your life there.
OR… You can make a decision to believe, to trust, to live that this is true.
So…Who Am I?
I have found one step at a time as I’ve taken on a Torah life….
Love your fellow as yourself, create a Jewish home… eat kosher, fill my house with Yiddishkeit, host Shabbat meals, honor Shabbat the day of rest, welcome guests, dress modestly …
that my sense of truth, dignity and joy increase and keep increasing.
So… I Made The Decision
I am a Jewish woman who loves the Torah and I do my best to live by it, one day at a time.
Slinky outfits, barbecue pork ribs, and even hot dancing at clubs…. I say, thanks for the good times,
And… now I am on a new playing field.
One unexpected perk is I’ve been saved from a boatload of embarrassment! I surely would have been that woman trying to keep my youth at age fifty+ wearing twenty-something-year-old fashion and trying to keep up with the latest moves, grinds and all.
Off The Fence
What can I say? I am now a Jewish rebel. Out of step with the bikini world I once knew. And blessedly, growing in relationship and friendship with all my friends: Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Atheist… My world, despite the seeming rules and boundaries, has gotten bigger. So much bigger.
And keeps on growing.
Love to all,