Now Playing: Craig Taubman - Shalom Rav
So today, I let it all out. I totally let what's been building up inside of me for the last five months out. It was like word vomit. (Why do I love the movie "Mean Girls" so much that I have to quote it in everything I do????) I will try my best to get the highlights out to you, but keep in mind that it was about a 2 hour conversation with many, many different people about a wide variety of topics. So if you are brave enough, read on.
I'm going to be the first one to publicly say...am I in a Reform Jewish Seminary that supports choice through knowledge? Maybe the institute does, but does everyone in this institute support the personal choices that I make? Like my last entry, I talked a lot in my outburst today about choices and making them during T'fillot. For example, there are some things that I, and my classmates, are doing this year that we've never done before and that we might not ever do again. So...why do we do it? I am not against learning this year..not by any means. In fact, quite the opposite. I think it is important that we learn as much as we can about the traditions Judaism has, across the board. But then we, as Reform Jews, need to have the tolerance to say to each other "WE CHOOSE TO/NOT TO DO THIS!!!!" And we need to respect other people's choices.
I was talking to one or two people about this, and I was getting so worked up and so adament about my positons, I was sort of drawing a crowd. And people were like, Amen Sister. Or...right on! Or...you go girl!!! It turns out I'm not the only one who feels this way. So why haven't we been vocal about it? Why do we keep saying the longer Birkat Hamazon at HUC events when there appear, to me, to be so many people that are uncomfortable with it? Why have I felt so swept into all of my new learning, that I forgot what my Judaism means to me...the ability to choose what feels right and meaningful and spiritual for me. And those of you that know me, know that I am a strong and confident person who is not afraid to speak my mind....so why has this been such a challenge for me? And if i'm struggling with all of this, who knows how other people are dealing with it.
I also think that it's very hush-hush this year, to veer away from traditonal Judaism and more towards the Reform Judaism that many of us know and are comfortable with, because we are in Israel, and some of us don't feel valid here as Reform Jews. Israelis don't understand progressive Judaism like Americans do. (Not that they alwasy do such a good job either...) People sometimes ask if we pray to Jesus, or are appalled that as a woman I have the nerve to become a rabbi. And so i think we are caught in these shells. We are trying to protect ourselves from the more hostile greater community of Jerusalem/Israel and we forget that we are here this year to experiement, to learn, and to choose. And that we shouldn't be afraid of making personal choices for ourselves, even if no single other student makes that same choice. I mean, isn't that the beauty of Reform Judaism???
I have this theory (that i developed today) that when people learn something new, they are impressed by it. They want to share it with others. It gives one the ability to say..hey, I know why we do this. For example...I understand now why before the Amidah some people take three steps backward, or why during some prayers people bow, or why people sit (or stand) during this prayer. And for some reason, it validates their actions to incorporate this newly learned piece of information. And maybe they feel that if they don't do the action that they have learned about, it means that they are uneducated, or invalid, or doing it wrong. But I think it's time we stop doing this. I think that we need to not only learn why things are done in Judaism, but also whether or not we WANT to incorporate these newly learned things into our Judaic or spiritual life. And if the answer is no..that's okay. And if the answer is yes...that's okay. Far be it from me to judge what is right or wrong for you.
So don't judge me or my actions either. I am simply making educated choices about my Judaism and the way I want to live my Judaic, spiritual, and personal life. And I'm telling you, world, I am no longer afraid to really start thinking about and making those choices. Choice through knowledge...there's nothing more powerful than that.