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.
Living Jewishly obviously means spending the period from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Eve with a different emphasis. This year, I’ll leave my well-known tree fetish behind. But as I ponder all the adult Christmases I’ve kept, I’m realizing I won’t miss that holiday’s sense of joy and wonder…because I’m increasingly finding those feelings to be an everyday part of my new journey.