"Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is."

I believe in God.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Reclaimng my Jewish Identity

Ever since I met Shepard, I have been lukewarm as a Jew, trying to meet his non-observant Judaism halfway.  I also hoped that if I became passionate about Judaism again, he would follow.  Last night I had two conversations with him that changed my view on things.

The first was me telling Shepard how much I had given up Jewishly for him, with examples.  He gave me permission to take some of these things back and start doing them again if I wanted to.  The second was him looking at how much work, and therefore money, he would miss if he took time off for Rosh HaShanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the two most important holidays, by far, on the Jewish calendar.  When he looked at the finances, he didn't want to take any time off.  Yom Kippur day is on a Saturday this year, and Shepard in general doesn't work Saturdays, so he can come to shul with me then; and I talked him into coming the first day of Rosh Hashanah, which falls on one of his shorter work days, as well.  However, this whole conversation showed me where Shepard lies versus where I lie on the spectrum of Jewish observance.

Based on all of the above, I am starting four Jewish practices again, some of which will affect Shepard more than others.

The first is daily, weekday morning prayers.  This does not affect Shepard because half the mornings of the week he is at work by the time I wake up anyway; and on the days he is not, he can do his  computer stuff, which he already does while I get ready, for a little bit of extra time.  This was the first one I thought to reclaim because I am already reading Psalm 91 as a prayer for someone I care about to recover from Leukemia, and reading a Bible chapter, every morning; might as well pray too.  Also, we are going into the holiest time of the year leading up to the High Holidays, and I want to be in touch with my spiritual side.

The second is Shabbat evening prayers.  This one affects Shepard in that it delays dinner after candle lighting on Friday nights.  To me the Shabbat evening service is the most beautiful of all the week; I miss it, and I want it back.

The third is ritual hand washing before the prayer over bread on Friday nights.  I told Shepard that I can totally just do this one myself if he does not want to participate.  This one is important to me because I spent a lot of money on a gorgeous, special cup and towel just for this purpose; it seems stupid not to use them.

Finally, I want to add back the Grace after Meals on Friday nights.  I grew up doing this on Shabbat evening, and it never seemed right to me to end a Shabbat evening meal without it.  Shepard says he can follow along for the first paragraph.  Therefore, we will do the "prologue for Shabbat" paragraph, and the first paragraph of the actual thing, together out loud; I will finish the rest silently.

So there you have it! My "new" Jewish life! I feel excited, and more alive than I have in a long time.  It's a good thing.

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I am a bipolar, Jewish young adult (had my Hebrew birthday, the one I count, and turned 23 this past January) who also suffers from Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. I love life and I live for my best friends: they are my purpose and my reason for trying so hard. I remain passionately devoted to those I love; I will not let my disorders make me totally self-centered. I like to read, write, and sew. My Rabbinical school plans did not work out, and I am now hoping to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. Please note: I am currently maintaining only Carried in His Hands. Enjoy!