If you had to name three things that you see as the definitions of your culture, what would they be? Why?
I have a Christian friend who lives down the street from me. She is very involved in her faith. I respect that about her. When I first began talking with her I felt she had too many assumptions and expectations of me as a Jewish person. She leads Bible studies and always comments about, “Don’t you know such and such in the prophets of Isaiah?” Or similar comments. I told her, I do know many of our Torah portions. But for me living as a person who follows their Jewish faith involves more of a hands on approach to life. I choose to spend my time doing things in my community that are outward expressions of my take on the mitzvot in the Torah. I volunteer caring for animals, I volunteer helping military veterans, and teach religious school. I don’t want to sit around and argue about what every Torah portion might mean. I have done some of that with fellow Temple members in a class. That neighbor has had a hard time understanding my way of honoring my Jewish faith. And of course, there are the traditional foods we all grow up with that I continue to cook and eat. I have a Jewish friend who doesn’t eat tuna fish. I couldn’t believe it. I said to her,”What kind of Jew are you?” To be funny of course. Non Jews faces cringe at the thought of eating gefilte fish sometimes. I enjoy that,too. And celebrating our traditional Jewish Holidays throughout the year are the cultural things I look forward to participating in.
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2014 Jewels of Elul Book
Jake and Janet Farber