Musings on Jewish Education and Jewish Living

Why Be Jewish?

I love my job. I’m passionate about Judaism and about conveying that passion to others through celebration and education. I get to do this with children and adults, and particularly with teachers. I get to do it in the classroom and the sanctuary, in the kitchen and on the sports field at camp, through music and food and prayer and Hebrew and …. you get the picture.

I’m not going to lie and say it’s not without its challenges. That would be disingenuous. I work with families who have competing priorities for their children, kids who want to be just about anywhere else but Temple, and teachers who are dedicated and creative, but for the most part, avocational teachers. Today’s Reform Jews often struggle with the tension between different personal identities, with “Jewish” being one that comes out at specific times. So we ask the question, “How can we be Jewish in today’s world?” How can we make Judaism relevant to our daily lives? How can we make “Jewish” the identity that is always present, regardless of which other identity is also in the forefront at the time?

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky suggests that we’re asking the wrong question. In his recent blog post that the question of this generation is not HOW to be Jewish, but WHY be Jewish? “Moreover,” he says, the question is “‘why be Jewish in the context of this particular community, congregation or institution?’ This is especially poignant for intermarried couples who need to ask the question: How will my child (or our family) directly benefit from participating in the Jewish community?”

Rabbi Olitzky shares his ten answers to this question on his blog, which I encourage you to read. I have my own thoughts as well, but before sharing them, I’d like to hear your ideas. Comment below to share your answer to the question, Why be Jewish? I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

Comments on: "Why Be Jewish?" (2)

  1. Kathi Kardon said:

    Oh my- I have so many reasons! Having grown up NOT Jewish, I am Jewish because Judaism called to me. I knew in my soul I was supposed to be Jewish. More than 25 years have passed since my conversion, and I still feel completely filled up when I attend services, work with my religious school class or write a play with a Jewish theme. I feel part of a community that goes back thousands of years when I sing Jewish songs. I look forward to Shabbat with an anticipation I never knew as a child, and if I can’t go to services for some reason, my week feels incomplete.

  2. Suzanne Karfiol said:

    Why not?
    It’s like asking why I am a woman or an American or Human rather than something else. This is who I am. I am passionate about everything I learn everyday and in every aspect of my life because the desire to make the world a better place is so what I want to do.I find balance in a very unbalanced world through my Faith and its traditions. The unity of one and only one God
    brings me peace even in the worst moments of my life.I find wise council from my Rabbi and other members of my synagogue. So why would I be anything else? I love Judaism and I am proud of who we are and have been for the past 4-5 thousand years.Counbt the stars in the sky…that’s how many reasons.

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