When last we spoke, I was busy answering questions posed by my friend Miss Ann Thrope.
I answered questions 2 and 3 in this post.
And I intentionally saved question 1 for its own special one. Here it is:
1. Four part question: Have you ever wanted NOT to tell someone that you are Jewish? How important is religion to you? Are there traditions and/or rituals that you do NOT practice? And finally, what would you do if Roo Girl came to you and said, "Mom, I've become a Christian"?
The answers to these questions are many ... and complicated. I probably will not answer them in any logical way.
Firstly, religion is very important to me. Although I may not spend a lot of time in the synagogue, the teachings and the celebrations are innate for me. They are just there.
I was raised in a Reform Jewish home. I never had a bat mitzvah. Neither did my younger sister, though both my brothers were bar mitvah'd. Why? I don't know, really. It just wasn't offered to me, and yet, as an adult, it's something that I regret deeply.
When I grew up and needed to find a synagogue of my own as an adult, I picked a Conservative one. It was more in line with who I had become over the years. I also began keeping kosher.
Let me step back a hair.
When I was in college (yes, the one I referred to in yesterday's post), my dearest friend's boyfriend took a class on the history of the Middle East. It was taught by -- ahem -- a gentleman of Arabic persuasion, who biased the class (in my opinion) in favor of the Arab nations. When my friend's b/friend said something about the poor little Arabs, the Jew in me rose up in righteous indignation, but I had no facts at my fingertips to contradict his claims.
So, that summer, I took an educational trip to Europe and Israel that changed my life. The two-week European portion was strictly a brainwashing expedition (in a totally positive sense) to Germany, Austria and Romania -- to see concentration camps, immigration holding camps and the Jewish plight in a communist country.
At the end of the two weeks, we flew out of Bucharest directly to Tel Aviv. I can't begin to tell you what that was like. It would require its own post, I suspect. And the following four weeks were an amazing reintroduction to my heritage and my people.
That's the Janet who entered into a marriage with a Catholic, who converted to Judaism. We joined that conservative congregation and kept a kosher home.
Three children later, we divorced. But my three boys all became a bar mitzvah at the age of 13.
My second marriage (how did this become about my marriages now??) was to a Jewish man. He, however, was the Evil One I have mentioned before. The Roo-girl's father.
We continued to maintain our kosher home and our relationship with a conservative synagogue.
Not really sure how to transition to the next part. The Evil One is gone. The Wonderhubby arrives ... and remains. He is not Jewish, yet he respects every part of my religious convictions. We still maintain our kosher home (although in truth, I do not buy kosher meat -- the expense is too much -- but we keep separate dishes for meat and dairy, etc.). Sometimes he's more careful about reading labels than I am.
He and J-bear both attend religious services or family celebrations with me as they come up. They both were participants in Roo-girl's bat mitzvah. Wonderhubby gave a speech, too. I'll reprint it here one day. It was one of the highlights of the morning.
So yeah, to make a short story long, my religion is very important to me.
Next, have I ever not wanted to tell someone I am Jewish? Not that I can recall, although I will admit to being grateful that my married name no longer SOUNDS Jewish when I travel on airplanes. There is some comfort in not being identifiable then.
Are there traditions and rituals that I do not follow?
Yes, many. There are many rules in the Bible -- 613 of them to be exact -- and not all of them are relevent to today's world (ritual sacrifice is pretty much out these days). I also don't completely celebrate Shabbat as a day of rest. Saturdays are a day for a woman with kids and a full-time job to catch up on errands and (sometimes!) fun stuff. I don't go to synagogue as much as I would like to. Life seems to get in the way. Is that a poor excuse? Maybe, but it is what it is.
And finally, Miss Ann, you poke at something that is a sensitive spot.
What would I do if Roo-girl told me she had become a Christian?
I have mixed emotions here. The reality, though, is that my child is always my child.
Would I be happy? No. I don't believe any Jewish parent can answer that any differently.
Would I disown her or throw her out? Decidedly not. I know people who would. Mr. Ex (the convert who never found acceptance for his decision from his own parents) is one who would. I find that bizarre in its contradictions.
But, same as I told the Drama King when he "came out" to me at the age of 16, she would still be my adored child, whether she was green, purple, Jewish or Hari Krishna.
That's just who I am.
Man, are you tired of listening to me drone on about this stuff yet? I am, for sure!
I hope I didn't leave you all in the dust or drive you to reading someone else's blog instead today ...
Although the question-answering thing is kinda fun (and revealing) in a weird sort of way.
Does anyone have any other questions that require answering? I'll try not to be quite so longwinded next time!