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Do You Look Jewish?

IMG_0162The obvious first reply to this is, “What does a Jew look like?” Certainly, in the time that interfaith marriage has been a force in the Jewish world, the answer to this question has undergone some change. But is it really any different than any other mixing of heritages?

When we visited Ellis Island and walked through the exhibits, it struck me that the photos of the people from each individual country shared many similarities. You could say, with some degree of accuracy, “That person looks Italian.” Fast forward to today. I’m Italian. I’m also French-Canadian. I’m also Jewish, albeit by choice. So no. I don’t look Jewish. Then again, not all Jews are from Eastern Europe these days.  Continue reading

Featured post

What Does it Mean to be Welcoming

WELCOME_sI’ve been part of the interfaith community for many years. I’ve felt comfortable, uncomfortable, welcome, tolerated, and most points between on the spectrum. I can tell you which things left me feeling more or less comfortable. I can even give you a definition-in-progress of what I would consider a welcoming congregation. What I hadn’t thought of before last night, is how many aspects of welcome are universal.

Why are we making it so complicated when we sit together as Jews to assess how welcoming our congregations are? Why are we trying to look at ourselves through the eyes of others – especially others who are coming to us from a world view we have not experienced firsthand? Why are we making this such a Herculean task? Continue reading

Shabbat Jan 18

Shabbat Candles

We have found a way of life that works.
We have 3300 years of testing under every possible social, economic, political and geographical condition to prove that.
Yes, you could do it yourself—test all the possible styles of life, make comparisons and come to your own conclusions. But what a waste of precious time it will be, for yourself and for the world that could be benefiting from you. After all, how much life will you have left after reaching your conclusions? - Chabad

This “Thought for the Day” from Chabad is certainly an interesting way to make the case that deciding to accept a Jewish life will lead to more time to live a fuller life. The same could be said for many other faiths, I know, but I especially liked the point that Judaism has already been tested – for more than 3300 years, no less.

For me, Judaism has proven to be the best vessel for a set of beliefs and practices that resonate with me. I hope whatever journey you are on and whatever faith ultimately resonates with you, you will be equally content.

Making a Joyful Noise

Joyful NoiseThere’s one line in Psalm 98 that has stuck in my head since I was a child. As I recall, the line is, Make a joyful noise unto the L-rd.

Throughout my childhood, I often thought of what joyful noise I would make. Would it be the sound of me singing? Or me playing the flute or piano? Maybe even me playing the cello? Then again, maybe it would be me teaching or writing. I just wasn’t sure. Continue reading

Oy Vey

UncertaintyOne of my children is being evaluated for a fairly serious medical condition. It’s not fatal. It is treatable. But it is going to cause some changes in how we do things. All in all, it’s something we can handle. The part that’s been difficult is hanging in there while we go through the diagnostic phase.

I’m a person who is not thrilled with unplanned events – unless they are parties. Those are definitely okay with me. So – having a perfectly healthy child suddenly frequenting Children’s Hospital is not something I’m comfortable with – but then, who is? The good news is that the staff and our doctors have been wonderful. They definitely get it that it’s a stressful situation for all involved, and they work to keep it all low key.
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