My extended family is a hodgepodge of religion. Despite the fact that my grandparents - parents to 9 kids - were ardent Catholics, my cousins and I have "broadened our horizons," so to speak. We have one that converted to Conservative Judaism, a Buddhist and a few non-practicing general Golden Rule Christians and, I am sure, a handful of atheists. That's not even counting the married-ins.
Today I had my first "Intro to Judaism" class. Now, I have had several rude introductions t Judaism, thanks to my sisters-in-law, but I don't think that is the kind of introduction that Judaism would have wanted, quite frankly.
This morning, as I will do every Sunday morning until mid-April), I met with 7 other people who are either Jews or about to become part of an Interfaith family to learn more about Judaism. I am hoping this goes better than The Mothers' Circle, which I, frankly, could have taught. We met with a great Rabbi and had some enlightening conversation. Not bad for a first day.
Rabbi Debbie said something that I thought was profound. A lot of emphasis is put on "Jews by Choice" in our temple. But, she said, we all choose our religion. So even if you are born Jewish, you still have to make the choice to believe in Torah and practice Judaism (or not). Or you can choose to convert, or to practice no religion. This was an interesting take. Through this paradigm, we are ALL "Jews by Choice." Because of my many, many issues, I like to identify with a large group. "ALL" is a pretty large group.
So what does this mean? We have been struggling (let's be honest, I have been struggling - Osi will go along because he is supportive like that) with what to do about Chrismukka this year. Is THIS the year we take the Chris out of Chrismukka? Do we go all Hanukkah all the time at Chez Zimmer? I dunno. Maybe if there could be Hanukkah stockings. I REALLY like the stockings.
Believe it or not, Christmas is what is holding me back. I love, love, looooooove Christmas. Like a kid loves Christmas. The thought of not having Christmas hurts my heart. But when I go to temple and read the prayers, THAT is what speaks to me. Never Catholicism. My soul was never spiritually fed by anything the Pope or the Catholic Church had to say. But, at the risk of cheesiness, Judaism speaks to me. I feel better after Friday night services. I feel at peace as we light Shabbat candles on the Friday nights that we make Shabbat. It feels right.
What to do about the Christmas tree, the Santa Claus, the outside lights. I just don't know. I am hoping that once Judaism introduces itself, it has a few answers for me, as well.