If you’ve navigated this blog, you’ll notice that I mostly write about food. Sometimes I wax poetic about married life or raising children. Sometimes I throw in a thought or two about Judaism. But mostly it’s just about food, and love it as we all do, I would like to contribute some thoughts on other topics. That’s why I am devoting a section of my site to more personal matters – insights from my own life and experience as they relate to Torah, Judaism, the world, ‘now’ issues and our generation. My goal, Be”H, is to submit a post in this section on a regular (weekly!) basis.
Who am I? It depends who you ask, I guess. But for the purposes of making my point below, I’ll tell you that I’m a Torah Observant Jewish woman living on a college campus in The Middle of Nowhere, USA. My family and I actually bring new meaning to the expression, Out of Town. While we don’t have any kind of thriving Jewish community here, what we do have is a population of 5,000 Jewish students, each one with unlimited potential for spiritual growth and self-actualization. And what we may be lacking in Jewish ‘amenities’, our cup simply doth overflow with inspiration and blessing, for in constantly aspiring to be positive Jewish role models to our students, there is no shortage of opportunity for personal growth for myself and my family as well.
As my beloved mentor, Rabbi Noach Weinberg, of Blessed Memory, would say, we are living in a time of spiritual Holocaust, aka, in this generation we are losing millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters to intermarriage and assimilation. It is up to each and every one of us to do all that we can to save our people from dying, to jump on the trains to Auschwitz, if necessary, and pull them off – or better yet, to stop the trains. It is all very well and good to be a ‘pious Yid,’ or to sit around philosophizing about the problems at hand, but if each one of us doesn’t stand up and take real responsibility, we will be held accountable.
In a nutshell, that is the driving force of my husband and I every day, why we live where we live, and why we do what we do.
Below, is something I wrote that I think sums up both my own outlook on this aspect of life, and what we can all do, within our own capabilities, to begin to tackle the problems of ignorance and division facing Jewish society today. This is meant to be shared, so please feel free to pass it on in any way you see fit:
Dear Jewish Girl Over There,
I don’t know you and I don’t know your name. I don’t care what you’re wearing, and you can’t offend me with your lifestyle. In short, I don’t judge you.
Oh, and please don’t judge me either. You’ve probably heard some negative things about ‘religious’ Jews. You might have had some bad experiences growing up. I would love to hear about your impression of Orthodox Jewish women. Seriously.
It may interest you to know that I chose to live this lifestyle, and every day when I wake up, I choose it again. Why? Because when I choose to live this lifestyle, I choose to live a better version of me. This is a lifestyle that pursues affecting positive change in our lives, in the lives of others and in the world. This is a lifestyle that enables us to tap into our inner womanhood and enter a world of true pleasure and meaning. What are your goals for today?
This is what I’m offering. I won the lottery. I am in possession of a type of wealth far more valuable than you, or even I, can really understand, and I want to share it all with you. You can have as much of it as you want, and it won’t diminish my wealth in any way.
Ok, so there are things. There’s money, and nice cars, and nice houses. There are parties and movies and iphones and ipads, and still plenty more things to make us smile and laugh and have a good time as we navigate through life. But can any of these things really make a person happy? What do you think? How would you define real wealth?
I would like to invite you to my home so you can see for yourself what a Jewish family is supposed to be like. Come for Shabbos, and hear how my husband showers me with praise. See how he blesses our children with so much hope for their future, and love. Come any day of the week and see the respect with which we treat one another, and our constant striving to be wonderful in each others eyes. Come and see that our home is built around our family, and not the other way around.
Come and speak to me about true feminism, and even about embracing femininity. Come and speak to me about real self-respect and dignity and empowerment. I can teach you how to have it all.
Why do I care about you? Who are you to me? The truth is that you could be my sister. You could be my daughter. And you are my family. Please don’t wake up an old lady with a broken heart, wishing you had done things differently when you were young, wishing you had made other choices. That would break my heart too…
With Sincerity and Love…