Every now and then, there is an event or a season in which I hearken back to my Jewish roots. It’s not that I shut down my Christian identity, but rather allow a part of me that normally lies dormant to temporarily take the stage.
The High Holy Days in Judaism are one such season. These events – the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement – are the Christian and Easter equivalent for my family in terms of religious importance. They also mark the anniversary of my father’s death (called yahrzeit in Yiddish).
The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg marks another season.
The Reckoning that Never Ends
I found myself reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish for her as I lit a candle. Though I disagree with much of RBG’s politics, I’m grateful for the advances she made for women. In Jewish culture, she’s something of an icon, and her death feels in many ways like the end of an era.
Every now and then, there are moments that I must grieve – or simply respond at all – as a Jew. I can’t adequately explain the emotional tug-of-war that happens inside me…one that’s been happening since 2008, when I officially “gave my heart to Christ,” as I learned to call it. Bible verses like Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” do nothing but confuse me.
I was – am – a Jew first, after all. One does not simply forget the faith that raised them.
Some strands of Christianity place great emphasis on the well-crafted testimony. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end that takes place: the period of being lost, the grappling in the dark, and the final conclusion where Jesus is realized. Suddenly, almost overnight, everything changes. Your path is set, your confusion evaporated.
I tried for years to mold my story to fit that narrative, and quickly realized that it couldn’t be done. Some of us live our testimonies forever.
There are some things I know for certain, and rest comfortably with. I know that Jesus is Lord, that he died for my sins and rose from the dead. I don’t ever really question that.
But does that declaration of faith erase the impressions from the tradition that nurtured me, grew me, and taught me my first baby steps in this world?
Yes. No. I don’t know.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Photo by Mike Labrum via Unsplash