Sunday, November 18, 2007

Identifying with Judaism

I have spent quite a bit of time in the past month or so thinking about how I identify with Judaism, what my issues are (there are lots), what I believe, and what the best way for me to observe Judaism is. While i currently have no real answers, and am still sorting through the giant maze that is the Jewish religion and the Jewish people, it wasn't until this past weekend on our retreat that I realized there was a completely different question I hadn't even thought of before: Why do I identify with Judaism?

This question strikes me as essential in understanding where a person is coming from as a jew, because fundamentally, it is important to understand why a person at their core believes what they do or acts in the way they do, especially when it comes to their religious faith. My suspicion is that a good number of Jews identify as Jews solely beause of blood - they were born into it, and that means they are Jewish, no questions asked. But if the Jewish community is to survive, is that enough? Can that sustain generations of Jews? With the rate of intermarriage as high as it is (and therefore a diffusion of blood-identification with being Jewish), what can be done to connect people with a deeper, more involved understanding of Judaism as a religion?