So Jewy

So Jewy

“I am a Jewish mother. My dying words will be, “Put a sweater on” Amanda Craig,

My kids think that I have become so Jewy.  What does Jewy mean anyway? Does it mean too Jewish? Jewish seem to describe birth or upbringing. Jewy sounds like more of a choice.

I wasn’t observant but I did not want to raise my children without religion. It was important to me that they knew where they came from. I wanted them to have an understanding of the beliefs and identity of their great grandparents who escaped pogroms to come here and of all the Jews who died in the concentration camps. I believe in traditions and rituals—whether it was lighting the Hanukkah candles, going to temple on the High Holy days, the rite of passage of asking the four questions at a Seder, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, birthday parties, the Tooth Fairy or sleeping in Mom and Dad’s bed after a nightmare. These things make up much of the fabric of our childhood memories and sense of family.

I did not go to Temple every week or celebrate the Sabbath.  Secretly I wish we had done that now, more for the family to get together than real Jewish study. I learned when my children were studying for their Bar Mitzvahs that our tradition comes with all sorts of advice about how best to behave in the world. What is a person’s obligation in this chaotic world? I could have used these life lessons.

And then there is the God thing. The Ten Commandments sound pretty easy yet it seems very hard for human beings to follow them. If you do not want to follow them, then it is easier not to believe in them. Are you a person of reason or a person of faith seems to be the dialogue. Why can’t you be both?

I thought that I had done everything right in terms of creating a religious background. But one of the most cherished myths of parenting is that parents create the child. There is no guarantee that your children will absorb everything you think they will. I believe that children are born more hard-wired than one would think. The nature/nurture debate goes on.

My job is done. I did my best to raise them that a little faith is important. It is understandable that young adults feel that celebrating the Jewish holidays is hypocritical (and boring) because it no longer goes along with their beliefs. Going along with family occasions as a respect to your parents without feeling defensive is a sign of maturity. A reality of modern life is that people get to decide for themselves what to believe, and emerging adults today feel they have not just a right but an obligation to make that decision on their own.

This year the events in Charlottesville make me feel the need to be more Jewy. My obligation in this chaotic world is to increase my good deeds, study,  go to temple on the Jewish Holidays and pray for a world that has gone insane.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Sunday Is Monday – Shopping In Israel

Sunday Is Monday – Shopping In Israel

“When practiced, Sabbath-keeping is an active protest against a culture that is always on, always available and always looking for something else to do.” Stephen W. Smith

Tel Aviv appears to be a cosmopolitan, secular city. My time in Israel  included two Sabbaths (Friday afternoon through Saturday evening). I awoke the first Saturday morning and anticipated  the beautiful breakfast  I had  eaten the morning before at the hotel. To my surprise, there was no cappuccino and no one was making eggs. There was dry cereal, pastries, hardboiled eggs,smoked fish, salads  and instant coffee – not the Saturday morning brunch at a hotel that I was used to.

After a walk along the beautiful beachfront to Jaffa and back, I was preparing to do some shopping.

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 I was told that everything was closed and there was no public transportation. Coming from a consumer driven society, I didn’t really believe that. This was a tourist area, some stores must be open.  I don’t often have culture shock visiting a country. I expect things to be different. I know all toilets are not created equal. I try to remember to take my shoes off in Asian countries when visiting someone’s home or a temple.  Preparing to be a Sabbath violator, I went out in search of shopping. There were some restaurants and cafes open and a mini market and that was it.   

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In the afternoon we went to the old beautiful city of Jaffa. Jaffa is a mix of Arabs and Jews so I was hopeful.

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We looked at the beautiful old architecture and walked the maze of alleys to the port.

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We had a beautiful sunset  lunch/dinner but no shopping there either.  “Sunday is Monday” said my friend.

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 I was thinking about it.  Does a day of rest strengthen a country and a family? There were a lot of families in the park. The beach was packed with people. Families were strolling around the city. For us Saturday is a day of housework, soccer tournaments, ballet classes, sporting events, matinees, movies and shopping sprees.

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In America Sundays used to be a day of rest. We didn’t have a national religion but all stores and businesses were closed on Sundays so we did have a national day of rest. Some people went to church, visited their grandparents, had a big family meal, went to the beach or the park or for a drive. One day a week we did something different. Our day wasn’t defined by consumption or production. We had fewer choices of what we could do. It was a day to be lazy and read. It was a peaceful ordinary Sunday, a common day of rest which for us  ended in Chinese or Italian food.  As we now search for inner peace through mindfulness and meditation, it is interesting to see  what disappeared when America lost that.

Fly safe,

JAZ