Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not particularly religious.. OK, not at all religious actually. However, anyone who has seen me knows that I cannot hide my Jewishness. Random bums from Manhattan to Las Vegas to Boulder, CO have told me I look like Woody Allen. True Story. Comedians have taken one look at me in the first row and done whole sets based on how Jew-y I look.. one even guessed my first name, as if it were completely obvious. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about this. It is simply a fact. And I like being a Jew.. I like the culture, I like the food, I like the humor. But the religious aspect has never done much for me and I have not stepped inside a synagogue in... well, I can't even remember the last time. Family dinners on the holidays, sure, great. Morning services, never. Which is why I was a little uneasy about going to Rosh Hashanah services with my Aunt and Uncle in Denver. My visit coincided with the Jewish new year and I was game to give it a try (how bad could it hurt, really?), but I was still... uneasy.
While I could still do without all the constant God and Torah praising, it turns out it wasn't too bad overall. In fact, I found myself unexpectedly moved by a few of the passages included in the services. One passage in particular really resonated.. it just seemed to fit very well with what I am trying to do with my life right now. As the rabbi read it (or the rabbi stand-in, since this congregation doesn't have a rabbi now.. a whole other story) I admit I was overcome by emotion. What can I say, it hit home. So, I figured it could be worth sharing.
The passage was a poem about Teshuvah, a Hebrew word referring to... blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, something about repentance (wait, you mean a Jewish concept about guilt? Shocking.) Anyway, I really have no idea what it means and kinda don't much care how significant a concept I'm sure it is to the Jewish High Holidays... I just liked the poem this congregation used to cover the topic. Here it is:
Here poised between what we have been
And what we long to be.
Here in the moment of Teshuvah,
Returning to our own true self.
Here in celebration and in search,
In judgment and embrace.
Ready to confront the world
in which we find ourselves;
Ready to unveil our spirit.
Reunited with the Source of all Life.
(Gail Anderson ben Ezra and Ed Towbin)
I dunno, at this moment in my life those words make a lot of sense. That's the kind of "religious" message I can get behind.
These are pictures from my Jew days in Denver. In the first, you can see how my Aunt Lorrie and I looked after services. Then there are the boys making the holiday Challah with their Grandma the day before. Finally, there is the Challah in all its candy-covered glory. L'chaim! To life!
...We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.