Temple Newsletter for September 22nd, 2023
Most of us surely take great pride in being Jewish, and we want our children and grandchildren to have the same feeling. But proud of what? When we really think about what being Jewish means to us, I wonder: Is it our attachment to Judaism the religion, or is it our attachment to what I would call Jewishness? And there is an important distinction between the two.
Jewishness might well be the term that we use for one who claims to feel Jewish, but who does little, if anything, that he identifies as religious. Jewishness is the tastes and smells and nostalgic recollections that we have of family holiday meals and gatherings. And I surely do not want to minimize the impact of these things.
But it is Judaism, the religion, that we need to impress upon the next generation of Jews if being Jewish is to have any worthy meaning and purpose in their lives. Judaism is the ideas, and the ideals and the values that emphasize that there is a holy partnership between God and humanity in the task of creating a better and safer world. Judaism is the religion that stresses that the purpose of prayer is not only to ask for what we need,
but that we might take note of what we already have and too often take for granted. Judaism is the religion that insists that the messiah has not yet arrived, and that such a time will not come until we treat one another as though any and every person might in fact be the messiah.
Yes, let us feel great pride in our Judaism. As our prayer says of Torah: “Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its paths are peace.”
Rabbi David Greenberg