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Six Word Saturday: 4 Tishrei, 5771

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What does your Judaism look like?

This has been my theme – unspoken, unwritten – for contemplation over the last few days.

I’ve split my thoughts into two posts, one general and one personal. Here’s the first.

Jews need Jewish goals, and visualization is for many (like me!) a more comfortable way to get there than setting something in stone.

Take a few minutes out of this brand-new year you’ve been given, close your eyes and picture what your Judaism looks like.

If there’s no picture, maybe you depend on others for your daily, weekly, monthly, annual “dose of Jewish.”

Maybe it’s a family seder, a Rosh Hashanah or break-the-fast gathering, or just occasional weddings of relatives that keep you in touch with Judaism. Maybe it’s a deli meal from time to time, or a klezmer CD. And that feels like enough.

It’s not enough.

The relatives who host seders? They’ll be gone someday. They’ll die or make aliyah and suddenly – no seder. Maybe your relatives, like mine, will stop having Jewish weddings. Maybe the klezmer CD breaks or your doctor tells you you can’t eat deli anymore. (that last one’s a stretch) Maybe your bubby dies and her blueberry bun recipe goes with her.

You WILL be offered the torch someday soon. Are you prepared to take it?

A relative of mine decided that once his mother died, he was never going to do anything Jewish ever again. He never had any interest in that torch. And he lost the chance to make it stronger and brighter than ever.

We could threaten people: “If everybody left, Judaism would cease to exist.” But that’s not what’s going to happen.

What actually happens is even sadder: Judaism loses YOU. Loses your uniqueness. Loses your insight. Loses your vote as to what it’s going to look like, going forward into the next centuries.

If you hate Judaism, step up and fix it. If you think we’re not doing it right, jump in and make it better. If it’s too frum, too stuffy, too entrenched, show me a way to do it in increments and make them meaningful. Take small bites, but make them delicious.

Apathy? “This Jewish thing which has meant so much for so long: don’t need it, don’t want it – it’s worthless.”

If that’s not you, then you’d better get visualizing.

Make sure you’re not ceding your Judaism to others. I don’t want your Judaism to look exactly like mine does: like the bumper sticker says, “don’t follow me – I’m lost, too!” Take Jewish steps, make it your own. Find out what looks and feels most real in your own life.

That doesn’t mean you can’t still go to great-uncle Benny’s seder. Go, eat, sing, enjoy, for as long as he’ll have you. It’s obviously important to him and you’ll have such great memories. But be prepared: great-uncle Benny won’t be around forever, and maybe your own seders will be the ones the next generation remembers fondly.

Visualize the door opening, and then step inside. There’s plenty of space; find a room in this precious family home where you can dwell comfortably, with a torch at its heart that – with your help – will keep us all warm for many years to come.

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