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 article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling

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Salvia



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Join date : 2012-12-29
Age : 29
Location : Wales, UK

PostSubject: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:15 am

Hi,

I just read this article: http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/4476/jewish/Labels-are-for-Suits.htm

I liked it very much, as it addresses some thing I am struggling with, especially these days. On the one hand I feel very much like the author concerning denominations - why do Jews divide themselves among these lines, as they also could join together and be tolerant of each others different ways and degrees of observation, and inspire each other in their diversity?
On the other hand, these different ways of looking at judaism exist, and I am thinking on what kind of Jew I'd want to be. Oh, I'd like to be more observant than I am! For somebody thinking of conversion I am really very secular: it happens to me all the time to violate shabbath, to eat meat and dairy too fast the one after the other, not to say the required blessings because I just don't know them yet - and that's when I am at home! It is true that my environment isn't very jew-friendly and that being known as jewish could have some bad consequences, but I have a really irrational fear of 'outing' myself. I mean, before lighting my candle on shabbat, I close all doors and windows, to make sure nobody sees or hears me singing in Hebrew, I invent allergy to justify not eating pork or shellfish...hardly doing the jewish task of being a light to the world, at least not publicly.

What are my observances? Well, at least I keep the minimum of not eating pork and shellfish, I say the shema before going to sleep and sing 'modah ani' when I wake up...when I am at home ar erev shabbat (which is not every week Sad ) I light my candle and sing the 'shalom aleichem' song, I prepare a nice meal and pray for 'shalom' for my loved ones and for everyone in need of it...praying to bring the light of G-d's shalom where it is needed. And in these days of war it is pretty much needed everywhere. This way I try to spread the light, by prayer and meditation and, surely, trying to behave as a 'mensch'. It's all I feel I can do. And these days observation consists mainly of thinking on this kind of issues, of reflecting on many things I should reflect upon, and eating large amounts of honey cake. I could do much better...But it woud already be easier to 'do better' when there would be a community or at least a family or close circle of friends to share with.

The writer of that article comforts me saying that observance is not something that is either all or nothing, but something we can grow in, and that it is this growth that is worthwhile and good. Of course this is something we all know, if you can't learn and grow, why are you living on this earth in the first place, but I use the lame excuse 'I am not jewish yet, so G-d will forgive me not keeping this mitzva' a bit too often to my taste. These mitzvot have a sense, they aren't there for nothing and once you're conscious of this, ' but they aren't for me yet' isn't really an excuse....I think. And how will I ever BECOME jewish if I keep hiding and bringing up excuses?
I might have found my jewish neshama but it is a very cowardly one, I'm afraid Crying or Very sad 

sorry for rambling. I just wanted to share the article. But I guess I needed to let it out.
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:36 am

Oh, and am I a 'bad jew' when I say I fee a bit ambivalent about this High Holidays/teshuvah stuff? One just isn't allowed to live on the surface these days, the Univers/G-d keeps flinging stuff at me, issues I should deal with now and issues I should have dealt with before - it started on the evening of the day of Rosh Hashana (technically not Rosh HaShanah anymore) with my ex calling me for the first time in very long, we spoke about things we should have spoken about long before and of course there were tears - but there also was the healing of having spoken out - and forgiven. And this worked through me for days after - it still does - and this was only the start - there's just no way to live your life and do your tasks as usual, you HAVE to turn into yourself. It feels good to return to my essence this way and to think on things that really matter, and I also feel closer to G-d than usual and I am very aware of his Presence - but though I seem in start and flower/to feel Thee some diffusive power...- but..rhaa this is heavy stuff. I'd like to have normal life back, even if I appreciate the cleansing and healing factor of going through it now and being done with afterwards, to go freshly into the new year. But if I'd known that simply observing Rosh HaShanah for the first time would provoke all this...well I suppose it's for my own good anyway. Must be. But I'm a bit troubled these days so sorry for the vague rambling posts !
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:29 pm

Salvia wrote:
it started on the evening of the day of Rosh Hashana (technically not Rosh HaShanah anymore) with my ex calling me for the first time in very long, we spoke about things we should have spoken about long before and of course there were tears - but there also was the healing of having spoken out - and forgiven.
You know, I assume, that this is just the kind of thing Jews are supposed to do in the period before Yom Kippur. Observant Jews specifically seek out and directly confront and apologize to people who they might have had an argument with or whose feelings they may have hurt or might harbor resentful feelings toward or might have wronged in some way. My husband says that in Israel, in the week or so before Yom Kippur, Jews call in to radio talk shows to publicly apologize or ask forgiveness.

You will need to learn to be open about your Judaism before you can formally convert, but since you don't currently have opportunities to join a Jewish community and live a more Jewish life, you are not in a position to convert YET anyway. I know all about the tension and self-doubt that can occur when you have begun to feel compelled do live Jewishly even while you are not actually Jewish. It's OK and it's normal---the prospective converts who claim to feel totally Jewish with no doubts at all are often those who are either self-delusional, or have not truly explored the depths of what it really means to be a Jew, compared with simply liking or admiring Judaism. Meanwhile, working through many psychological issues you may have with respect to your relationships with other people and with God is all to the good and are steps you would need to take towards conversion as well.

L'Shanah Tovah u'Metukah (To a Good and Sweet Year)
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Salvia



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PostSubject: Re: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:42 pm

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for your kind answer. It is very encourageing...

I know this is exactly what Jews are supposed to do - but I wasn't prepared for my (although ethnically jewish, not religious) ex to call me. I know it is a good thing, maybe I wasn't really prepared for the period between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur to be so heavy, emotionally. Although I had read about it and everything.

Shanah tovah!!
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Sarit

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PostSubject: Re: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Thu Sep 12, 2013 7:55 am

Shanah Tovah everybody!

I often think about the "labeling" stuff. At first I wanted to know everything about denominations in Judaism, so, as I thought then, I could point out a place where I could feel most comfortable on that spectrum. As I will realize later, as always, the borderlines between one and the other denomination, inspite of strict responsa that can be placed "here" or "there" and that certainly make and mark some division between the denominations, are not as bold as they seem. For everything to be more complicated (and more amazing, too!), every single one of us has her/his own way of thinking and interpretating. Every community has its own minhagim. Every rabbi is different and tends to follow a specific combination of traditional and/or contemporary thought so it also shapes his/her community differently. At that point, strict borderlines become pretty unusable. Of course,there is a difference between Orthodox, Conservative, Reform etc. tradition and there are differences between their communities, but still.. I Jew - you Jew, as the text which Salvia linked said.

At that point I stopped trying to point "that one" place of mine on that spectrum, but I still like to play "the denomination game" (knowing all this that I wrote above, of course) and compare different traditions in the means of my own thought and position. Right here I'm somewhere at the Conservadox, let's say. tongue 

My rabbi (who is Modern Orthodox), when asked if he is traditional in Torah interpretation when it comes to our contemporary way of living, once said: "you cannot ask me a question like that, in that simple manner. In some things I'm very liberal; in some things I'm very traditional. And so is with every single congregant here, except those things where I'm liberal might not be the things someone else is liberal and the same is for the traditional attitude; we are all different, and we should be seen that way."

So basically - all it comes down to is "I Jew - you Jew" (I liked the story, obviously!). Very Happy

(and I like the one with the lion and the tiger also!!)

As for "coming out of the closet"... This is actually a process. I spent three or more years just reading about Judaism and lurking into the forums before I actually got a courage to go to the synagogue. And it took me several months of going there before I told anything to the rabbi. And six months more before I officially submitted a request for free Shabbatot at my workplace. And it's different for everyone of us and depends on so many circumstances. Each story, each way of walking that path is ok, so don't worry. :)

Of course, it helps a lot when you have a community - you learn a lot faster, you get the chance to actually experience everything with the real people that are experiencing all the things together with you and it is certainly a very different feeling... But spending some time in solitude can also help you to focus on your own thoughts and needs. This summer I spent a month away at the place with no Jewish community in a radius of at least 400-500km. Being departed from the community, feeling a kind of lonely every Shabbat, feeling a kind of lonely every day actually increased my level of observance, since keeping mitzvot suddenly became such a strong marker and reminder of who I am. So in a way a solitary life, maybe as much as a communal life, can bring you so much precious experience. Draw on that. ;)
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: article- on 'jewish labels' - and some rambling   Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:33 pm

I skipped Rosh Hashanah this year because I wasn't feeling well at all and Yom Kippur is going to be cut very short. I have to work Friday night instead of going to Kol Nidre. My client is Jewish but she's 85 years old and not at all interested in going to services (we're members of the same synagogue). On Saturday my husband made reservation for us to go out of town for our anniversary. I had planned to go to shul all day, then to a friend's house and then leave for cabin. However, the cabin does not have electricity so now I'm really thinking I would like to arrive before it's dark. I'm up to my eyeballs in school stress and health stress. Right now I'd sorta like to just go hide in a cave somewhere. So yeah, you know, things happen and sometimes we're just not super into it or we're coming at it from a different place.
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