On Becoming A Jew

This week, I had the honor and privilege of helping to welcome four young women into the Jewish Community as they performed the ritual immersion at the mikveh. Each one came to Judaism from a different background and for different reasons; all shared the desire to be a part of something larger than themselves, and each felt that Judaism and Jewish practice spoke to a deep place within themselves. What struck me most was the combination of excitement and nervousness each woman expressed; the understanding that their ritual immersion represented a new life; and for some, a feeling of “coming home.” 

For me, Judaism was a given–never a choice to be made–and to see someone excited about kabbalat ol mitzvot, “taking on the yoke/responsibilities of the commandments,” reminded me of the richness and beauty of Judaism that I’ve often taken for granted. Accepting the mitzvot is about much more than what one can or can’t eat, or whether you can do a jigsaw puzzle on Shabbat, or even fasting on Yom Kippur. It’s about seeing the world through new eyes; and about seeing what was always in front of us.

All religions teach the importance of behaving properly towards others; Judaism hasn’t cornered the market on ethical and moral behavior, but it does add a level of kedusha, “sanctity” to our everyday activities, which is often what gets lost when rituals and thinking become routine, mundane. 

I wish I could be a fly on the wall this Friday evening as these women light Shabbat candles for the first time as Jews, and as I prepare to light mine, circling my hands three times, I’ll bring them into that circle. They’ll join millions of women around the world, along with their spiritual ancestresses, in welcoming the Shekhina (God’s sheltering, feminine aspect) and Shabbat Bride, and bring the world a little closer to perfection.

As we approach the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also called the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, may we blessed to see not only our Judaism and Jewish practice through new eyes, but our world. as well.

 

 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Latest Sermons

Shoftim: Can Destruction be Just?
Shoftim: Can Destruction be Just?

Photo: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. The spotted lantern fly has arrived in our area, and we’re being advised to squash them if we see them. This bug has no natural...

VaEtchanan: Until His Final Breath
VaEtchanan: Until His Final Breath

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/maltin75/6278446183 “Observe God’s laws and commandments, which I enjoin upon you this day, that it may go well with you and your children after you, and that you may long remain in the land that the LORD your God is assigning to you...

Parshat Pinchas: Looking For the Good
Parshat Pinchas: Looking For the Good

Photo: COSV from Wikimedia Commons. Women Gathering Wood, South Sudan My friend Sylvia (who says I’m her favorite female rabbi) is almost 98–may she live and be well–and is often troubled by the harsher judgments and more problematic passages in the Torah. And rightly...

Latest Midrash HaZak

Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders
Ekev: Standing on their Shoulders

  Credit: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Buff_Bill's_Circus Parashat Ekev Rabbi Arnie Samlan Ekev, the third reading in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy), is a continuation of Moses’ farewell address to the Israelite nation poised to enter the Promised Land....

VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You
VaEtchanan: Rav Lach, It Is Enough For You

Photo by Rabbi Susan Elkodsi Va’Etchanan: Rav Lach, It is enough for you Rabbi Janet Madden, Ph.D Parshat Va’Etchanan opens with Moshe’s recounting to the new generation of Israelites that he pleaded with the Holy One to allow him to enter the Land of Israel. He...

Massei: The Journals of the Journeys
Massei: The Journals of the Journeys

Parashat Massei: The Journal of the Journeys Rabbi Ron Isaacs In 1960 I spent the summer at Camp Ramah in Canada. Advertised as a Hebrew-speaking camp, it was my first summer away from home. I decided to document my 8-week summer by keeping a diary which I still have...

Latest Personal Blogs

Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem
Blessing My Bended Knees-A Poem

This past week, I participated in a Ritualwell class with Alden Solovy on "Writing From One Word of Torah." I distilled 3 stream-of-consciousness prompts on the word "Baruch/Berekh," the root of which can mean "blessing' and "knee, into this poem. Blessing my bended...

The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives
The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives

Photo: publicdomainpictures.net The Eshet Hayil In Our Lives An email from My Jewish Learning about “A Woman of Valor” prompted me to pivot the next evening’s planned adult learning session to looking at these 22 verses from Mishlei, the Book of Proverbs. These verses...

Live Long and Prosper?
Live Long and Prosper?

By Oklahoma Heritage Association, Gaylord-Pickens Museum - Author, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25656727 Live Long and Prosper? January 5, 2022 began the third year of the seven and a half-year cycle of Daf Yomi, the practice of...

Pin It on Pinterest