First off… my humblest apologies for putting this up a day late.
Second, next month will mark the one year anniversary of this post… and while I am sure Ben and I will do more extensive recaps, it is remarkable to think how far I/we have come.
Quite often I (I won’t be presumptuous and say We, meaning all of us) sit at services at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, regretting all that I did NOT do… the promises I made that I did not fulfill… the things I swore I would change, etc. But this year, all I need to do is look back at this blog, and know that I have been growing and evolving as a Jew… learning more than I ever thought I would… and embracing so much.
Part of all of this is one simple notion: Getting out there and staying involved. While I live in the depths of the Valley… and yes, there are plenty of great Shuls out there, I find that I am now coming into the city much more often, into the Chood © (emphasis on the khuh sound) and really becoming a part of the community.
Walking around Pico… popping in place to place is such a joyous experience. I see a community I wish I had become a part of much sooner… and while I do feel like I have been wandering in the desert for __ years (Won’t date myself that obviously), I also feel like I am finally finding a home. This unity, this coming together is so vital for Jews. Perhaps there will be a post on this in the future, though I know that is a risky and perhaps too political of a topic… the fighting we do among ourselves and the need more now than ever, of uniting and truly coming together.
But this is not about that.
For the first time I sat while the Megillah was being read, and followed along in the Chumash word for word… Still working on my Hebrew… long way to go… Whereas I used to be more of an observer, I felt truly involved this time around. The words of the story of Esther struck me in a way they never had. It went way beyond Graggers and Hamantaschen… While I love those elements, the traditions, the customs of our holidays, the central idea of a Hidden G-d took hold of me… and reminded me how much we must do on our own, knowing that Hashem is always with us, but also understanding we have a choice to be involved or not.
This Purim reminded me that Hashem is all around us, in every thing, and that it is our duty, our responsibility, but also our joy to seek him out… to discover him, in every season and at every hour.
As I gear up for Passover, probably my favorite holiday, I am excited to go beyond what I have in the past. For me, Judaism used to function almost solely on family, tradition and culture… and yes, of course, FOOD! These are essential elements and not to be overlooked… and in my mind, this is what makes religion, any religion vital and worthwhile: Bringing people and families closer together in shared experiences and traditions. Finding time to be together, to bond, to share love.
But the actual “religious” element… the story from the Torah… and yes, it is odd to say that this used to take a back seat… is so much more focused… so much more prominent… and as such I am able to see just how much a part of my daily life it has become.
Being Jewish is all about tradition… but as we sit at our Seders and recount the story of our Exodus from Egypt, it becomes about transmission, of the story and the message. It becomes about sharing and keeping those traditions alive… passing them down and forward.
The fact that we have survived so much as a people and are still here, IS a miracle. And while I love the foods of Purim and Passover, THIS is what is now in my brain. I now have daily conversations with Hashem… while I daven and while I walk. I try my best to take in all of Hashem’s miracles… to feel gratitude and connection… every single day. And while the holidays heighten this, it is the day-to-day that now keeps me going.
So let us eat, let us pray and let us love… Hey, there is a book in there! Let us unite and celebrate. Chag Sameach.