The High Holy Days that marked the beginning of 5772 also marked the end of my first observed Jewish year. I expected the Days of Awe to be fulfilling. But what was missing turned out to be the best part of all.
I wear my kippah full-time for two reasons. First, out of a sense of humility before God. Now raise your hand if you’ve ever met someone with an Irish last name and assumed they were Jewish. That’s the other reason.
In theory, Reform Jews can follow any commandment by which they feel moved. But some traditional practices move few Reform Jews. Praying every morning with tefillin is usually one of those practices. Here’s why it moves me–and why that’s just fine.
Columbia College fakes a protest movement to teach students about real-world problems. An acquaintance knows their job is committing racial discrimination but does nothing. When you have a chance to help repair the world but don’t, is that OK? And when?
Plan all the phoney matzah meals you want, or avoid it completely and subsist on permitted meats and quinoa. No amount of advance planning will take all the sting out of observing Passover. Nor should it.
When a well-meaning friend asked me on Christmas Eve, “Is being at temple tonight hard for you?” they were surprised I said, “No.” I wasn’t surprised at all.
Lessons from my first-ever first night of Chanukah: check wooden matches for cracks; don’t use the match box to put out the carpet; …and be prepared to feel six-years-old all over again.
Saturday after temple in a north side Starbucks, I sat down with a Reform Jewish friend. I had my kippah on and my computer open. As we were walking out, an Orthodox woman sitting nearby turned to a stranger and told him I wasn’t going to be a good Jew. And as you may have guessed, I marched right back in.
The beauty of Reform Judaism is the freedom to adopt traditional practices that speak to your heart. The beast of Reform Judaism is getting the fish eye from Reform Jews who think adopting tradition makes you Orthodox. Problem is, tradition is just what many potential converts–like me and my kippah-covered head–are attracted to.
I’ve been studying kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws, but in Reform Judaism keeping kosher would be up to my conscience. I never expected my conscience to care. Yet as I begin my conversion journey, I can’t seem to make it past the supermarket checker anymore without taking several of my favorite food items out of my basket and leaving them behind.