Thursday, February 5, 2015

Looking for my religion with a flashlight

I've been contemplating joining a temple.
I've been contemplating never joining a temple again.

I've been contemplating becoming more religious--more frum.
I've been contemplating leaving Judaism.

As you might have figured out I am conflicted about my religion. I should note that I am not conflicted about the existence of Gd. I have had enough proof to satisfy myself. Anyone who reads this who hasn't had that proof and doesn't believe in Gd--good on you! I don't have to disclose my proof--you don't have to disclose your doubts.

My religion--Conservative/Reform Judaism--that's another story. It fills me with conflicting emotions. I was raised in a Kosher home. I attended Hebrew School. I believed. I still do. Being Jewish is the way I worship. I feel clean on Yom Kippur. Lighting candles on Friday night comforts something in my soul. Going to services and saying the Mourners Kaddish for my mother is responsible for some of my healing. I know it is.

So why not join a temple?

Because when I needed them the most, I was abandoned by my religion and it made me feel abandoned by Gd.

Yes, I'm talking about Infertility.

In most religious ceremonies, Jewish ceremonies included, a lot revolves around the children. So what happens when you don't have children? Are you welcome? Well--kind of. You're welcome for the children that you might someday have.

Yes, when I was looking for temples, I was told by one that I should come back when I had children.
When I was trying to find a place to pray for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I was told about one temple that had free services for young families. I said that I didn't have children. I was told that I could come too--like an afterthought.

When I attended services at my parents temple, on Rosh Hashanah, the new rabbi's sermon was about how women ran to the doctor too quickly to try to get pregnant. They should...wait for it...relax. I should mention that this rabbi was the father of six!

I went to services on Purim one year and I was asked where my kids were. I responded that if I was very lucky they'd be here in nine months. The person was insulted that I said that.

I had attended a new shul (new for me near our new house) and the Rabbi said I could come on Yom Kippur. She told me that she would leave word that I could go in. She forgot. I didn't have a ticket, my name wasn't on a list, and I was turned away from a shul on the holiest day of the year. Because my husband loves me, he got in the car and drove me to where I have been going for the past seven years. If I had not gone back to a shul that Yom Kippur--I would never have gone back again. My husband loves me and understand that being Jewish is as much a part of me as blue eyes. He didn't want me to lose that part of myself.

By the way--as a reminder--my husband isn't Jewish. A lot of these places he is made to feel like persona non grata because he married into the faith instead of being born into it. Many temples say he may be a "full member" except for religious attributes. That means they want him to pay a full membership, but not be a full member.

I want to raise Lotus to see the beauty in Sabbath Candlelights. I want her to feel like she personally was escorted out of Egypt on Passover. I want her to be Bat Mitzvah. I don't want her to be the only Asian in the congregation. I don't want her to be the only person of color in the congregation. I don't want her to be teased because she was adopted. Moses was adopted too.

I don't really know how to resolve these issues. I'm curious if others have ideas and how they have resolved them as well. Until then I will go one place to say Mourner's Kaddish. Bring Lotus to another for Tot Shabbat, and travel nearly an hour for the High Holidays. I'll do this until I find somewhere I fit in, or until I find somewhere that fits me.

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