Dear Max and Rebecca
Imagine a good friend with whom you lose touch. Or have a fight with. You don’t speak for a few years, and during that time you feel a bit resentful about this person. You speak badly about this person behind their back, and you feel that you’ll unlikely ever have a relationship again, and that any connection between the two of you is one based solely on history.
And then one day you reunite with your friend. You understand why you stopped speaking, but all this is behind you. The friendship now is even better than it was before, and there is none of the discomfort you might have felt at times before. Now, there’s just love and comfort, and the new rules of the relationship suit you, and you feel so at home and inspired with this new connection with an old friend.
This is my analogy for losing my religion, so to speak, and recently finding it again. In my case, this “fallout” began a few years ago, while sitting in the Jewish court of law while going through the process of getting a Jewish divorce. It was one of the worst days of my life, and the process of being granted a Jewish divorce by three rabbis caused humiliation and hurt, and I can’t cite many more instances in my life that have made me feel as small and insignificant as that one.
They took a very harmonious divorce proceeding (yes, they do exist), and caused tears and humiliation, and from then, I lost my place in Judaism, mainly because I couldn’t see that I even had a place there. I mean, how could I even feel a belonging when I had been made to feel small, insignificant, and disrespected. And I couldn’t shake it off, or really feel a belonging.
And so we parted ways. And I missed the traditions. And I missed feeling strong in my religion. And I felt lost that I didn’t withhold some of the enjoyable traditions that I remember happily growing up with, and I felt guilty that I had forsaken the religion that my grandparents’ families had perished for.
And then recently, I found a community and shul in which I feel a strong place, and one of the best things that’s happened to me recently has been rediscovering Judaism, so to speak. I am comfortable and content, and instead of sitting on the sidelines observing a service, I am active, and rather than having my voice silenced or overpowered, it’s welcome here.
I look forward to services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings – they’re my time-outs and a chance to reconnect with myself, my history, and G-d. It’s here that I feel grateful and content, it’s here that I sing out of tune, and get to meet some of the warmest and kindest people I’ve ever met at shul.
Max, you’ve started coming with us too, and every Friday night you head off excitedly to the children’s service, and on the way home, you tell me how many chocolates you had, the weekly Torah portion you learnt about, and the games you played. Rebecca, you come some Friday nights and on the Saturday mornings you’ve come, you’ve been passed from and have enjoyed one set of loving arms to the other. I love this community spirit where “strangers” rarely stay this way, and where you’re embraced, regardless of anything, really.
I’m so glad to be sharing this with you two, and I hope that along the way you get out what I do – a chance to learn more about our history, follow our traditions, be grateful, enjoy the community spirit, and learn further compassion and kindness.
May we celebrate, learn and know our religion more (and eat Friday-night chocolate) together…
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