I was the Bat Mitzvah that questioned whether I wanted to be Jewish. I outright questioned my rabbi if I didn’t believe in a God, does that mean I should make a transition in front of the entire synagogue – Shir Tikvah – that I attended. This foundation and encouragement to question the world I live in is something that has always stuck with me.
More than a half-million Americans are dead from COVID and we’re nowhere near done. It is an odd time to find myself in Judaism but that is exactly what I have done. In the last 8 months, I have spent most of my time alone. I’ve learned to listen to solitude and listen to those surrounding me. It was a moment to check if I know who I am, and if it aligned with what I want out of this life.
Judaism has always been the core of me. The idea of leaving behind a better world than the one you started first driven me. I am endlessly curious about the people who surround me so I can learn from them. We all enrich each other. I learned to quit valuing work over life. I learned to start living again because of 248CAN, but also because of the synagogues I have been part of – Shir Tikvah and Bet Shalom in Minneapolis and Or Ami in Richmond, Va. Everywhere, every step I’ve been there has never failed to help me.
It was that made me have enough bravery to jump off the cliff into the unknowable. What makes a life worth living? Is life worth living if you’re just working and a robot? I have had 2 brain surgeries in the last year, and seven in the last 3 years. I am starting to understand that a life well-lived is not being anchored or being afraid of achieving things.
It is always Judaism and the teachers I surround myself with that has given me the courage to dive right in. I learn from you and become a better person by living. There is no gain if we don’t jump.
Yes, it has been a hard few years, and yes it’ll still be a dark period to come, but we still need to live a life worth living. We leave an impact on the world we are surrounded in, we make a difference. The voice of one can encourage the rest.
So, yes, my life is changing in ways that I never thought – going on disability and finally admitting to myself that I can’t work right now. But I know one day, I will return to the workforce. It is the faith in the future ingrained in me by the Jewish communities I’ve been part of that have made that 13-year-old girl confident in a 28-year-old woman that Judaism is the right path for her.