Judaism is almost something I can't describe, it is something it is tangible in a way and it isn't in another way. How do you describe something that seems so much a part of you that you don't distinguish as a different part of you?
A religion can be applied to whatever extent the believer believes in it. It is all in the mind, it is not something you can actually touch. There is no defined pretext for you. Yet how do I explain how I feel Jewish as a distinct and very real part of me?
When I was 13 years old and about to have my Bat Mitzvah, I wasn't sure if I believed in Adonai and how could I stand up in front of an entire synagogue and say all these prayers if I wasn't sure if I was believing in what I was saying? My rabbi told me something that I've always carried with me ever since, she told me that questioning my religion was a part of developing what Judaism meant to be. Judaism allows you to question the very basis of what it is. They didn't tell me what to believe, I was allowed to explore every topic possible.
So what is Judaism to me? It is not even a religion, it is a culture and a people close to my heart. When I come together with people here, there is something that touches me and that makes me want to make a better world and be a better person.
Judaism itself means to me to giving to other people, being the best person you can be. A community and a home that you can find anywhere. I've moved to Minnesota to Virginia and found a home here. No matter where you go, you find yourself welcome among other Jewish people. They're always giving and always willing to accept you into the community.
It is not even a religion, it is a part of me. It is a part of community, the principles are a part of who I am. It is ingrained in me, to help others, to be kind, to make a better world. It gives me faith when the world is in a tough place.
I've been placed in positions where people questioned why I wasn't converting to Christianity and going to hell. And I can only give them one answer: it is ingrained in me. It is part of me and the community. It is not just a religion, it is a heritage and something that I cannot just give up.
Judaism isn't just a religion, it offers a home and a people. I've seen myself welcomed in different communities with Judaism. I've seen people being hostile to me but no matter what I go, in the Jewish community, people have always opened their arms. I have rarely seen that out in the real world.
Judaism is a way of life and a set of beliefs to guide yourself by. It makes you a piece of the puzzle of a bigger world. It is about making a sukkot, it is about giving mazel tov to others, it is about remembering the past, it is about making the world a better place. It is about giving all you can and treating others as you want to be treated.
It is a way of life, not just a religion. It is a integrated part of me and that is something we all choose, what level it impacts us but for me, it is simply me.