My Judaism loves good food — Jahnun on Saturdays, Malawah on any day, chicken soup will cure a cold and a broken heart. Latkes and sufganiyot and a bialy or a bagel, a shlook of shnaps or really good scotch, and I’ll see you at the Oneg after services.
My Judaism loves family, and the history we’ve made around the table in the glow of thousands of Sabbath candles. The taste of kiddush wine and challah, of Great Gramma Celia’s chicken soup, the recipe passed down with a promise that it could only be revealed to your children. My Judaism loves the kiddush cup that survived a pogrom and a rocky boat ride, then a long drive, and then another and finally even an El Al flight to make it all the way home 4 generations later, to Israel.
My Judaism loves people — people who count rosary beads, or wear hijab, or a yarmulke or a shetl, people who have pierced everythings (tattoos, too.) People who drink and toke, who get all rowdy on a Saturday night, people with quiet hands who heal with a simple touch. People who paint on walls. People who knit. People who make others laugh, people who make others think. People who love people, no matter what gender or race or religion or house at Hogwarts they’re in.
My Judaism chooses love — always.
And my Judaism loves sex, and believes its a way to transcend, sometimes, if you’re lucky.
My Judaism loves history, and that spark of truth in each story we pass down, from generation to generation, as it is written. My Judaism looks at the stories in the Torah as important guidelines, and a reflection of a time in our history when we were a fledgling people. My Judaism embraces our past, and looks for ways to build a better future.
My Judaism walked away from a man who put his foot on my neck until the world darkened into one exquisite spark. That one exquisite spark was me, and I chose that spark.
My Judaism is a wild dance, red wine on my lips, Uncle Robert on guitar, and Aunt Caren on tambourine. My Judaism is my father bellowing the wrong words in Hebrew because he chose our tribe when my mom chose him, and he’s still learning, and he will never give up.
My Judaism is not afraid of failing, because I know I’ll get it right some day.
My Judaism chose not to be a mother at 19, to ask for help where she knew she would find it: And my Judaism is the rabbi who looked into my frightened eyes and said “anything you need.”
My Judaism accepts the past, makes peace with it, and moves ahead.
My Judaism held my mother in her arms when she took her last breath, in the very bed where she nursed me when I was a baby. My Judaism screamed FUCK CANCER at the top of my lungs, then smashed a mirror, and tore her shirt.
My Judaism will not say “blessed is the true judge,” because cancer is bullshit, and my mom should still be alive.
My Judaism is latkes and presents and spinning the dreidel, and being tucked safely into bed at night with the doll my parents got me for Hanukkah. My Judaism is guiding my daughter’s hand when she lights the candles on Shabbat, it’s pouring grape juice in a glass of my son so he can lead kiddush. It’s sprinkling salt on challah, and breaking it for the three of us. My Judaism is imagining what’s next, and how to make the world a better place.
My Judaism is, and was, and will be.
My Judaism struggles with the world that Is, while imagining a world that Could Be. A struggle with raw material, with reality, with the status quo… always seeking ways to make things better, brighter, stronger, kinder, always staggering under that heavy weight to the right side of history.
My Judaism loves the spark of human potential deep within each of us, where the God in me sees the God in you, and it’s all good because “God” is just that moral compass guiding us on that path…
…But: My Judaism recognizes that mine isn’t the only way, that so long as we each follow our moral compass (call it whatever you want, it’s all good) we’ll all get there, somehow. Tired, hungry, grouchy, too … but we’ll get there.
We’ve gotten this far.
Beit HaTfusot – The Museum of the Jewish People wants to know what YOUR Judaism looks like:
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