On Being Jewish

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “Religion”.

Ever since I was a young girl I have felt the responsibility of being Jewish.  A responsibility to practice the religion, to remember those who died defending it or because if it, to behave and accomplish in a way befitting G-d’s chosen people.

But even more than the responsibility of being Jewish, what I felt most was fear.  Fear of another Holocaust, fear of being attacked by a pogrom, fear of the anti-semitism being practiced and publicized all throughout the world.  I would try to concoct ways to fool oppressors into thinking I wasn’t Jewish, in an effort to save myself from my ancestors’ fate.  It’s scary for a kid to think that someone is going to come and take them away and kill them just because of their religion – and one they didn’t choose at that.   And all of these atrocities were talked about at length in synagogues, in Hebrew school, at holidays.  Never forget, we are warned.  Never forget.

As a teenager I went through the process of becoming a Bat Mitzvah, and I even enjoyed the process.  There was comfort in the traditions and the prayers and the belief in G-d.  But I was also becoming aware of the stereotypes that dogged my fellow Semites, and I was embarrassed that many of them were dead-on.  Not for EVERY Jew, to be sure, but for many of those I met.

One day a rabbi gave a sermon that had me see clearly what my biggest issue was with organized Judaism.  He was talking about Jews being G-d’s chosen people – a frequent and recurrent theme in Jewish services.  But that day I got what really bugged me about my religion.  It seemed to me that many of the  Jews out there, especially the ones exhibiting the hated stereotypes, saw being “G-d’s chosen people” as responsibility that proves our superiority.

In my mind, though, that was a biiiiiiiig mistake.  To me being one of the chosen means that He indeed gave us responsibility, but responsibility from a place of humility.

That was such an epiphany for me, and as a result I pretty much pulled away from the temple, and practicing my religion.  I became a part-time Jew – weddings, bar mitzvahs and the High Holy Days.  I still believe in G-d, and still pray on occasion.   I’ve often said that if I could find a temple with real people who  just happened to be Jewish that I’d gladly join.   I’ve never found that.  Some friends say that has more to do with living where I live – that what I yearn for flourishes  in places like Alabama and Utah, where Jews are much fewer and further between.  Which is why I did consider Alabama

Now that I’m older I’m willing to give those stereotypical Jews a little slack.   When you’re persecuted over centuries and struggle to survive, perhaps the best way to do that is to stick together and declare yourselves superior.  When our kids are being picked on by bullies don’t we tell them to ignore the taunts and jeers, and point out and encourage their best qualities?  It’s not such a far leap to see how that sense of superiority developed…

But now that Son is getting older I’m finding, like so many other parents, that I want religion to be a part of his life.  I like the idea of G-d, whether he truly exists or not.  I want Son to have that spirituality, to have that private relationship.   So I’m looking for a temple, willing to give my religion another chance.  And I’m hoping that I’ll find one that will help show Son the joys of tradition and being a mensch, and accepting that responsibility of being G-d’s chosen with a bit of humility.

Are you out there?

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Redemtion is a Ten Letter Word

It’s been a heck of a week. I’m trying to decide on a preschool for Son for the fall, Son got violently ill to the point he almost had to be hospitalized for dehydration (he’s okay now, thank G-d!), and I had to face a truth that was obvious to everyone but me. In addition to all that, I own two pairs of Lia Sophia earrings, and this week I’ve lost one from each pair. One earlier this week, one today. Apparently my ears are suddenly slippery.

With Son feeling much better, today he and I joined my Dad, brother, sister-in-law and her kids for breakfast. It wasn’t planned, but we then decided to head to the local church’s Italian Festival for a few hours of scorching sun and children’s glee. Son and his cousins had usual fun riding the rides and playing carnival games.

I really wish I’d had my camera. First, of course, to get pictures of said children’s glee. But that’s not the only reason. The kids got tickets for winning the games and could trade them for trinkets. The sign above where we went to redeem the tickets for trinkets said, “Redemtion”. At a Church festival. I am amused.

The festival is in a field at the school, and there’s not been great amounts of rain here lately. Dust. Lots of dust. Add a lollipop and some fried dough. Son was F I L T H Y when we got back. I just hosed him down outside and sent him up for a nap, hoping to take one myself.

Alas, that was not to be. Guy was scheduled to come over to work on his website about fifteen minutes after I finally got Son to bed. Exhausted and hungry I did a little bit of house straightening but gave up after picking up a few bigger pieces of debris off of the Rug That Even My Dyson Cannot Keep Debris Free For More Than Ten Minutes.

I was so exhausted I didn’t freshen my makeup or run a brush through my hair. (Guy, I am so over you, dude.)

Guy arrived and had no idea what he wanted to do, so he left, very apologetic.

That’s fine. I can relax! But no, son is awake and needs to be fed and bathed and cuddled and read to. Son is fed, bathed, cuddled, read to and put to bed.

Now, at 9 pm, I finally get to sit down and relax, blogging with the Oscars on the background. Ahhhhh.

You know you have a lot of hair when you lose an earring and then find it, hours later, in your hair.

I wish I knew exactly when I lost it. Because now I’m just wondering how long it was dangling there.

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