Saturday, June 9, 2012

Choosing Judaism

Here's a little something I wrote for my Rabbi on how I chose Judaism.

I have spent hours trying to write why I chose Judaism. What brought me here. Honestly, it's a bit fuzzy. It was years ago that I walked away from the religion of my childhood and a couple of years ago that I chose Judaism so trying to recall what made me make that decision has been hard.
But I'll start with what I remember first.

My first Exploring Judaism class the Rabbi said b'tzelem elohim, we're all made in the image of God. He continued to explain this concept saying that we can't say homosexuality is wrong because we were all made in the image of God. This was a relatively simple concept that changed my life. It, sadly, was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing. It changed how I interacted with people. How I loved and treated people.

As I dove into books about Judaism I was completely taken with ritual and blessings bringing spirituality to the everyday mundane things. As Rabbi Lawrence Kushner said, "Judaism sees only one world, which is material and spiritual at the same time. The material world is always potentially spiritual." Jewish rituals opened doors for me to make my life holy and filled with meaning and thanksgiving. As Rabbi Harold Kushner says, "making the ordinary extraordinary."
I was delighted to search out and find blessings for nearly everything under the sun.There are no lack of blessings in Judaism.

On my first Saturday to attend a Torah Study I was blown away by the wide array of comments and beliefs, multiple translations and interpretations. But what I love more than anything, is that there isn't just one right answer in Judaism. There are many right answers. I watched as some gave their opinions with fiery passion and still walked out of the class patting each other on the back wishing each other a good shabbos. The very same people that I now say shabbat shalom to. Beautiful people who act like extended family.

I fell into the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and holidays. Like a circle that never ends shabbat returned week after week greeting me like a friend. Sitting in Friday night services I recited blessings that were foreign to my lips but felt so natural. So comforting. No matter how my week was I could return to these blessings and take comfort.
As Rosh Hashanah rolled around I nervously prepared for my first Rosh Hashanah service, but my nerves calmed as soon as I walked into the synagogue. As I recited prayers with the whole community I had this feeling I had done this before. That this was not unfamiliar to me.

I suppose this is how I came to choose Judaism. Though I would argue that Judaism chose me.

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