Cultural Faith

I went to Shabbat dinner tonight with family, some local and some in town visiting. It was a good experience, but really made me think too. For clarification, I wasn’t raised Jewish, but rather was brought up Catholic, spent some time as an evangelist Christian, then moved into an agnostic/universalist space. My maternal family is all Jewish, however, some very close to being orthodox, particularly this cousin whom I visited tonight.

First off, I really wish I’d gotten to know this side of my family earlier on in my life. I had only met my cousins once prior to moving to DC, and in the last few years I’ve seen them a few times. They are kind, funny, intelligent people, and I feel like we have similar personalities. I hope to continue to foster these relationships.

Second, amazing innovative brussel sprout salad! I was nervous about it, but it was delicious. This is essentially the recipe: It has shaved brussel sprouts, pomegranate seeds, and hazelnuts.

Third, I’m still debating birthright Israel. I learned that kosher foods have this little code on them, and that dairy needs it’s own set of cookware (except for glass). Once you eat meat, you can’t do dairy again – but fish is “neutral” so you can still have dairy afterwards. I love the hebrew prayers, and how they are sung instead of spoken. I learned that all Jews are citizens of Israel if they so choose…including me!

I’m also constantly flabbergasted – and amused because my uncle shares the feeling – by how devout my cousin and her husband are. Their whole life in DC is centered around the Jewish community, and their friends are equally devout. They organize and lead services, serve on committees, win awards for their involvement, and travel/have lived in Israel. I admire their devoutness and the community they are a part of. I like all of the people I’ve met thus far from that part of her life, and it makes me wonder if I’d fit in there. If I’d be better off accepting that part of my heritage and living a Jewish life. Hence, birthright. It’s free, I’m eligible…it’s tempting. I feel like there are so many barriers to entry – hebrew being a big one – and I honestly don’t know if my beliefs fit into the faith. Religion is this ever-elusive thing for me…I see it, I relate to it, but I don’t feel right in it, at least not yet.

This weekend/week has been a series of missed things. I’m going to Pittsburgh this weekend, so I’m missing a party some good friends are hosting. I missed college night for family time. I missed the chance to watch Zero Dark Thirty and to go to a birthday party for another friend. It’s unnecessarily stressful – I feel bad not participating. I don’t know, I feel like I’m letting people down? Simultaneously, I’ve been very busy every night again and have lost my whole 2 nights/week at home thing. Either way, at least I have a life, I’m living it, I’m doing fun things, spending time with fun people, and that’s all good. Positively, I’ve been going to yoga with some gals at work, and it’s exhausting and leaving me sore, but only in the most wonderful of ways.


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