Category Archives: The next generation

Jewish Journey: Conversion

You can read part I here. And part II here. Now, enjoy part III

Why should I convert to Judaism? I do not like religion? Religion causes all these problems and creates unreasonable people. Why do I need it? Ihave faith in one thing: when I put my feet on the ground it will be solid and I can stand on it. The rest of it forget it. – My 23 year old self

So why did I convert? What compelled me to do it? Was it because I wanted to marry a Jewish person? Was it because I reconciled the idea of a G-d who could let my mother die? Was it because I found a Jewish soul? Was it because I found my spiritual home?

No. I don’t commit like that. I do not jump both feet into the water nevermind a change like this. I eased in. Judaism resonated with what I believed. Here is a list of what I remembered agreeing with:

  1. I could argue with the rabbi
  2. I could argue with G-d
  3. I could image G-d however I wanted or didn’t want
  4. I did not need faith as a starting point
  5. Ethics and deeds were more important than dogma
  6. Heaven and hell were minimized, what was important was the here and now
  7. Death was taken seriously and had many rituals to help the survivors (not just statements like “she is in a better place now” – oo that makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside)
  8. There was a strong history and peoplehood that I could learn about and become part of (I did not have much of a connection with American white guy)
  9. Sin did not occur from birth, people were not sinners, and sin was defined differently in Judaism – missing the mark

There wasn’t anything that I had a real aversion too. There did not seem to be a strong dogma and requirement to be a certain way.

Why should I convert? Momentum? Wanting to be a part of the life of the person I was going to marry? It, for sure, was not the romantic notion of G-d coming down and touching my soul. I am not that sort of romantic. Not even in my wedding proposal.

I agreed to convert. The rest seems like a blur. I do not remember struggling with it. I barely remember the beit din, even after an hour or more of answering questions. I do remember the mikvah, naked in a room with the rabbi asking questions from beyond the door. I do remember one question (paraphrased): ” Do you know that in every generation the Jewish people are persecuted and it may happen in this generation, are you willing to stand up for the Jewish people?” …

Yes.

mTp – With Intention

Mitzvah: Telling your spiritual journey

In every generation, each of us must see ourselves as if we, ourselves, came out of Egypt , as it is written: And
you shall tell your child on that day saying, This is what God did for me, when I came out of Egypt . (Exodus 13:8 )

What are you? Are you a Jew? What is your story? What do you tell your children? Do you tell the story of coming out of Egypt? Do you tell it as your story?

Describing our challenges and proudest moments help define a picture of who we are. This helps frame and set a context for our story. We tell our story of a great people to keep our history alive. Stories of our families and our people are important for children to learn about who they are and to provide an identity and a connection to their heritage.

Our people have a long and brilliant history of underdogs struggling and overcoming. Over the years we have lived under many difficult regimes then succeeded beyond the expectations of the nations we embraced.

Under slavery and horrible conditions of an oppressive kingdom in Egypt we struggled. We left Egypt and made our way to the land of Israel and built a great nation. Then the story repeats itself in history. In every generation we encounter a struggle against rulers. And in every generation we succeed and change the world. Within the ups and downs, each year we connect our children with the story of coming out of Egypt.

This is our history. Interestingly, G-d knew this would be valuable to sustain and connect this group of people we call Jews. We are given the mitzvh “And you shall tell your child on that day saying, This is what God did for me, when
I came out of Egypt .
” Our tradition helps define regular intervals and the context to tell the story. We created a Haggadah and seder so that every year at Passover we tell our story.

Our history, traditions and beliefs help sustain and empower us as a community. G-d did this — brought us out of Egypt to accept the Torah, to teach it to our children and to remain a special community in the light of G-d. Teach this to your children as a personal journey and your children will identify and be proud to be Jews.

This Passover is your opportunity to tell your children about the family struggles and family triumphs. You have an opportunity to do a mitzvah and include the story of Exodus this Passover holiday.

Happy Pesach and good feasting.

mTp

Written for Temple Shir Tikva and cross posted on With Intention

Passé? That's too easy.

Saying that Judaism is passé is too easy. That is a brush off.

I have yet to meet someone who has wrestled with Judaism, not someone just born into it but someone who has wrestled with it (from within or out), who has not felt its relevance.

I was born and baptised a Catholic. After that I did not do much but go to church every once in a while when my mother would want me to go. I can count the number of times on both hands. My mother passed away when I was 16 and the priest told me she died for a reason and that I may never know why.

Ooooo that made me mad. Continue reading

Is Judaism passé? 2

Is Judaism passé? Or is it traditionalism that is? What is Judaism? Is it a religion that only stands on the shoulders of the men that proceeded us?

How is Judaism relevant? It brings the holy to the mundane. Try to do 100 brachas a day and tell me you do not start appreciating the world around you.

How is Judaism current? Where else in this frantic paced world can you find a sacred temple in time like Shabbat? It gives you all the license in the world to take one day in the week to disconnect from the rat race and do something for yourself. Do something to help rejuvenate yourself. Continue reading

Is Judaism passé?

I know, even this question is passé. But I really do wonder… is it wonderful enough to survive modernism? I can’t help but ask it.

I just started teaching a class to high school girls for 45 minutes in the evening. It is taking place in an after-school program for Jewish kids who are in public school.

This is my first experience with these kids so obviously I barely know them or what they’re about but still, I look at them and wonder what they would see in Judaism. Continue reading