My Judaism is a full circle of chesed

Let me start by coming clean: my Judaism is not really my Judaism. It was born thousands of years ago, but for the sake of this article I will tell you, that for me it is what set in motion our world.

That it is a full circle of chesed, a tradition of light and kindness with which Abraham and Sara rocked the world, a gentle yet energic, shiny push that left it spinning with until today. Civil rights, women´s rights, workers rights, freedom of religion, it is the essence of morality at the forefront of the world.

My Judaism – if I may – has always been brave, at the cost of being disliked. It is observing mitzvot under the Tsar, using a frozen river as a mikveh, packing up and leaving Sefarad, raising the Israeli flag. It has never been scared of looking at evil in the eye and calling it by its name. Because our wise rabbis say that when you are kind to the cruel, you end up being cruel to the kind.

It is knowing the mighty power of speech, and caring about your actions, not just your thoughts. A walk in a rose garden: pleasant, fragrant yet surrounded by thorns. It is conquering oneself, it is sometimes saying no – in order to say yes to so much more. It is admitting that you don´t always have all the answers. It is asking questions, and then asking some more. It is being rich as long as you are happy with your lot. My Judaism is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

My Judaism is a chesed that starts at home, climbs to the community, hikes to Israel and only then, sets to discover the world. My Judaism is lighting Shabbat candles on the merit of brothers and sisters you have never seen, is signing up on “Take them a meal”, sending Purim packs to IDF soldiers and giving your 10%. It´s a twice removed uncle-in-law driving for over three hours to attend my dad´s funeral, it´s landing in a country you don´t know and having heart-warming chicken soup with friends who were strangers just minutes ago.

My Judaism comes in all sizes, shapes and colors. It dresses in palm stockings and mini skirts, in bright bikinis and in white or black shells. It wears stylish scarves, luscious sheitels and green mohicans, and it is so many hands – dark ones, hairy ones, tiny ones, wrinkly ones – banging on a long, white table to the tune of Shabbat. It is, for 25 hours, switching off my cell phone in order to tune myself in to the world.

My Judaism is cracking up and remembering the old, hilarious Purim anecdotes. It is humor, it is even throwing your head back in laughter. It is vibrant, wild and feisty, and celebrates every moment in life. It is good wine, vodka, arak and whiskey going to your head, steamy chamin, crispy snichtzels, sweet challot and spicy Moroccan fish. It is sometimes a swirling circle of long skirts, a line, and bunch of jumping black hats in Williamsburg, it is sometimes a spot in the Negev illuminated by a trans party, but it is always a continuous dance.

My Judaism never rests, it seeks to fix the world, and that starts by fixing ourselves. It prays, it acts, it resists, it helps and it fights, and – overall, don´t forget – it awaits the Geulah.

About the Author
Born in Spain, Mazal Oaknin established herself in London in 2007, where she teaches at University College London. Since then, her head has been bubbling with stories, ideas and jokes, and she can't wait to get them off her chest on this blog.