Friday, May 05, 2006

May 5, 2006 Musings - Judiasm+

Being Jewish has always been an important part of my life. As a child I felt very alone when in school the "Christian World" clearly made us outsiders. I remember being told that we got presents for Chanukah each of 8 nights, while Christians only had a single day - Christmas and how that just didn't cut it making me feel ok. I guess that a significant part of my negative feelings related to the fact that I didn't feel like we belonged in the Jewish community either in the social/religious worlds of Reform or Conservative Judiasm. I saw seemed welcome and warmth in the moments we were at the Temple/Synagogue. For me the kinship ties rarely felt anything beyond the Sabbath or the holidays when we were with others.

For my father public observances were not valued. He had a grown up in a religious household where public observances of Judiasm were not the norm; the religion was personal and largely private. I remember enjoying the singing of the songs, but this was a rare part of my religion that I enjoyed. The other good part was the food when there was food for Bar Mitzvah's and special occasions.

The part of Judiasm that meant a lot to me was in our home life before my father's death (when I was 13). For the Sabbath meal (Friday evening) we ate in our dining room, with things more formal. We had freshly baked Challah my mother had made, which I liked very much and my mother's lighting of candles. This was the one meal of the week when we couldn't read at the table.

I also remember building Sukkahs in the fall, Passover Seders with (welcome) guests with us, and Chanukah particularly alternating nights with our family friends the H's. Sadly, after my father's death in 1964 we didn't follow the rituals anymore. Probably my brother and I didn't seemingly want them and my mother's emotions relating to the loss she had no doubt played a part also.

I didn't like Hebrew and Sunday School - the "work" of being Jewish. The lack of connection to the "formal" part of Judiasm, the lack of community for me, led me to being totally non-observant for over 30 years after my childhood.

Now I'm interested in reconnecting in various ways with my Jewish self. Being with my wife has helped me see more of the importance of ritual, celebration and my spiritual self. Getting older may also affect this.

Being Jewish has also impacted me greatly in my political feelings and awareness. I'll explore that more in future writings here.

Be well!


1 comment:

The Conflicted Redhead said...

Hi Geo,

I'm a fan now!!! I was converting to Judaism before things fell apart in my life. Judaism taught me to question. It challenged me to be a better person. It made me feel connected to my community. I must admit, that scared me. It scared me because I had a secret that I didn't want people to know about. A secret that prevented me from truly connecting to people.

I didn't realize that I feared connection until I started the conversion process. The experience made me realize that I would never be able to connect if I didn't seek help.

Judaism helped me see "my truth". I hope I can one day continue the conversion process.

Anyway, I love your blog and I respect you for being so open and honest.

Take Care.