How is Your Jewish Self?
Out of nowhere, in a Facebook message, she asked her father, who is more Jewish– you or Rabbi Kedar?
And so, in a Facebook message to me, he relayed the message, my daughter wants to know who is more Jewish, me or you.
I answered; we are not in a contest, no winner or loser. Just a journey toward expansiveness. I walk with you, I said to him. Let us consider together a few more questions. My guess is, I said, we are equally engaged in four of the five categories? He agreed.
And so now I ask you, how is your Jewish self?
Judaism is belonging: Do I claim Judaism as my past, my tradition, my heritage and my people? Do I cast my destiny with the Jewish people? Do Jewish rituals, customs matter to me? Am I part of a Jewish community? Do I participate in that community? Do I care? Do I belong?
Judaism is choice and consciousness: Am I a Jew by default or by intention? Is my Judaism white noise in the background until some event turns up the volume? Like High Holidays. Or my child’s Bar Mitzvah. Or when someone I love dies. Or an attack on Israel. When I am uncomfortable do I hide my Jewishness? Even at work? Am I satisfied with a seventh grade Jewish education? Or do I choose more?
Judaism is a perspective: Do I see the world through the lens of my Jewish sense of ethics? Is the Jewish story my story? Am I aware of being Jewish everyday? Is Judaism an integrated part of my life? When I see, watch the world and when I try to understand my life, do I have a Jewish filter? Sometimes? Ever?
Judaism is what I do: Do I pray? Bless? Study? Read? Give away my time and volunteer? Give away my money and help others? Do I give away my kindness, and heal? Do I have a sense of obligation to behave in a Jewish way? Do I feel the rhythm of the Jewish calendar? Does Jewish time enter into my time? Shabbat? Holidays?
Judaism is tending to the spirit: Am I aware of my spiritual life? Do I talk to God? Do I allow myself to struggle with my faith? Does my life have meaning? Do I have purpose? Do I sit quietly, settle down. Ever? Do I practice love?
I pose the questions, to me, to you. Everyday is an answer.
Rabbi Karyn Kedar is the senior rabbi at Congregation BJBE, in Deerfield, IL.