#BlogElul2013: Believe

I am someone who relishes reading all sorts of material from any corner of the internet, regardless of whether it makes me angry, makes me question, or is simply diametrically opposed to my worldview.  Sometimes this is just a purely intellectual exercise – I enjoy finding out what makes people who are so different from me “tick,” and other times, it is a useful exercise in critical thinking, in finding some semblance of common ground, and I’ve found that my thinking gets shaped by what I read and how I interpret it.

I don’t generally venture into the realm of atheist blogs/communities online, but in the course of pursuing other interests, I’ve come across a sizable number of skeptics, who seem to see it as their life’s mission to decry any form of outdated, superstitious, silly nonsense (or, to use their favorite term, “wooo”). Some of these skeptics are dear friends of mine, but I’ll admit that, as a person of faith, knowing that their skepticism extends into their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and sometimes, it can be tricky not to take their blanket statements about people who believe a tiny bit personally. Yet, at the same time, I know that they have a point – I have no way to prove that God is real. All I can do is take the proof that has been offered up in my own life and my own experiences as enough, and trust that my belief is sufficient, that it is real and justified. It’s not called a leap of faith for nothing, but I choose to believe that what Judaism teaches about the existence of God is real.  Perhaps paradoxically, I also take comfort in the fact that my faith allows for people who doubt or even do not believe – Humanistic Judaism is not something I ever see myself subscribing to, but I like the fact that just because you don’t believe, you are cut off from the Jewish faith, and that it is open to so many diverse interpretations.

To end, let me shamelessly copy the Ima on the Bima, who posted this song at the end of her own entry on “believe”:

To me, this song says it perfectly.

There can be miracles/when you believe.

#BlogElul 23: Awakening

Sometimes it comes in rushes, this feeling of awakening my long-dormant Jewish soul (what can I say, it feels like it’s always been a part of me), and I wind up in a frenzy of activity.  Other times, it’s a more slow and steady process.  The bursts of action make me feel like I’m doing something tangible, learning, growing, adding things, but then it feels like too much and I retreat.   I haven’t done hamotzi or kiddush in months, but now that I feel like I’m in a comfortable space with making Shabbat a regular part of my life, I want to start again.  And then I will reawaken other more dormant parts of my practice – praying more consistently from the texts, as it were, instead of self-directed prayer, learning Hebrew, and then taking everything to the next step.  I don’t know what will be awakened when I take these next forward steps instead of renewing things I’ve done previously, but I’m excited to find out.

The Obligatory First Post

I decided to start this blog after my latest meeting with my rabbi, which happened this afternoon.  I’m a writer by heart, yet my writing voice has been strangely absent as I take myself on the path of becoming a Jew and finding my Jewish soul.  I started trying to write a blog just after I began my conversion process (in December 2011), but I felt uncomfortable and uneasy at the thought, and so took refuge in an older, long-neglected online space that felt safer.   Today, however, I feel inspired to begin chronicling my journey in a somewhat public fashion, yet with the comforting cloak of relative anonymity. If you’d like to learn more about how I found myself on this journey, you can read more on the about me page.

The other motivation for creating this blog is because my rabbi has asked me to reflect during the month of Elul, which leads up to the High Holy Days in September (this year), which is meant to be a period of introspection and thoughtful reflection as the new year and the day of atonement (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, respectively), approach.  As it happens, last night I came across the #blogElul challenge hosted by Ima on (and off) the Bima, otherwise known as Rabbi Phyllis Sommer.   The challenge, which I want to set for myself, is to blog each day on the theme of the day.  If I feel so inspired, I may also try and add photographs, though I’m not on Instagram, so cannot take part in the #Elulgram.

The themes I will be blogging on are as follows:

My hope is that this month of blogging proves to be fruitful, inspiring and thoughtful.  Let’s see how it goes.