I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

God? Are You Out There?

On this blog, I make no secret of the fact that I am Jew. Go on, hurl some matzah balls - either way, it's who I am. However, one thing I've been aware of is that I am a cultural Jew rather than a religious one. I managed to make it to the ripe old age of thirty one without really forming an opinion on the whole God part of it all. Since childhood, though, I've pretty much blindly followed the cultural requirements - the food, the rites and rituals, the putting on a skirt (!) and trying not to fidget. I sing the songs, I read the passages, I ask for forgiveness (and pray that this whole fasting thing goes faster, hellooo, I'm starving here!) and so on. However, my knowledge of Jewish history, and my ideas of god are totally missing. As in, there is a jolly HUGE gap in my knowledge. Normally, this isn't really an issue - I enjoy the cultural aspect of it and that basically fulfills me.

In recent days, however, I've begun to wonder about this. Partially it's because DH took on a (huge, massive, time consuming) senior role in our temple. Partially it's because the children have started to ask questions which I'm not sure I can answer. Partially because I think it's because the time has come. I didn't have a religious upbringing at all - it was entirely based on cultural rituals. I can't ever remember my family discussing religion or God. I didn't really attend a Jewish School (only for the first few years), I didn't do the whole after school Hebrew School thing, and we never went to temple with any real regularity. My Bat Mitzvah was an excuse for a MASSIVE black tie party and had little if nothing to do with Judaism at all. (Side note: It rocked, and I looked FAB.) I had this kinda strange upbringing where I spent several summers at a Chabad (*cough*cult*cough*) day camp, rote memorizing various prayers to be a part of "Hashem's Army" but then had no actual Jewish education. So I feel a little clueless, and as we all know, I don't DO underachieving. So in recent time I've set about learning more about this whole Jew business.

I did what any self-respecting person would do and I headed for the library, where I found the "Pocket Idiot's Guide to Judaism" (no, I'm not kidding. Stop laughing. It's not funny.) I also found a couple of other books, mostly aimed at the young adult category, which I read right there in the library. Anyway so I brought home this little slim volume, and over the course of a week read it. A funny sort of thing happened. A light suddenly turned on. I found myself saying things like, "OH! So *that's* why we do that!" and "This is SOOO cool!" and then reading passages to DH. He would just look at me and say, "You didn't know that?" and I of course would say, "No (duh, that's why I'm reading this) How did YOU know that?" and in his most infuriating way, DH would say, "Well, I just....know." So now I'm wanting to know more, and intend to return this book to the library just a wee bit more smarter than I was before. I'm going to find some more in-depth reading on this. Honestly, I don't think I'll ever be much more religious than I am right now. We - as a family - have reached a comfortable level of involvement. We're active members of our community, we enjoy being a part of a temple, and the children are getting the religious *and* cultural education that both DH and I feel they need. So on that front, it's all good. On the education of me front, it's also all going ahead.

As for the God business...well, I just don't know. I remember praying to god as a child (mostly asking Him to get my parents to stop fighting) but I'm not sure if I really understood what I was doing. As an adult, knowing more about evolution and so on - I have my doubts. Either way Judaism is a rich, often entertaining , fascinating religion with a lot of interesting facets to it. The best part, of course, is the basic thing on which all of Jewish history is based:

They came. They tried to kill us. We won. Let's Eat!

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