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Finding my religion

5 November 2006

So, I’ve been on this internal path / struggle / dialog around my relationship to the Jewish tradition, and what I want to make of that relationship for quite some time now (years, really), and without going into a great deal of detail right now (because I am too tired to list all of my reasons and reasonings), I’ve come to the solid conclusion that I will be converting to Judaism at some point in my near future. What is the key of this decision is a realization that I pretty much think and act like a Jew already, and converting is not a proclamation of any particular set of beliefs that I have or commit to holding to, as much as it is a commitment to walking a particular path of exploration; one that is traditionally skeptical, dialectic in nature, exploratory, focused on education and reason, as well as opening to the mysteries of life with an open mind and heart. It’s a path that provides me with the intellectual integrity I demand, and the spiritual openness that I yearn for. And it feeds my personal desire for ritual in some very powerful ways.

So there it is. It’s a long process that I’m in the very beginnings of, and reserve the right to change my mind at any point in the future, but the more I think on it and learn and read and contemplate, the more and more natural it all seems to me. So before I even broach this with my family (and other than my sister and brother-in-law, no one reads my blog in my family) or friends (well, this is my coming out to my friends, so HA!) I’m coming out to the internet. This is part of me practicing saying it out loud. At some time in the indeterminate but near future, I will be a Jew.

What’s particular important to point out here, is that I come to this decision completely on my own volition and with absolutely no pressure from any other person in my life. It’s true that I wouldn’t be considering becoming a Jew if I had never met my wife, but it’s not her decision or motivations that brings me to this point. To steal someone else’s poetic sentiments, first I fell in love with one Jew, and through that Jew I have fallen in love with all Jews.

If you’re interested in my particular reasons and observations, I am more than willing to share them with you in excruciating detail, but not right now, as my mind is not equipped at the moment to write the 30 page essay that would be required to tell you why I am making this decision. All you need to know is that it makes sense, and anyone that knows me and knows what it is to be a Jew would agree.

So where do I go from here? I study, I spend time with the idea, I meditate, and eventually I do some rituals and then I’m part of the tribe. Somewhere in the soon-ish time frame I broach the subject with my parents and family, so they aren’t totally taken by surprise. I expect some hard times over it, especially from my mom. All I can say is this is not about them, and not an indication that I’m trying to separate from my family in any way. It’s an identity that I’ll be gaining, not an identity I’ll be losing. It’s a significant shift, but one that will leave me essentially the same person I am today, but just with a better label. When someone asks me what my religion is, I’ll have an answer, instead of ‘I’m a philosopher’. I’m joining a tribe of philosophers and deep thinkers, those whose tribal name and very home, Israel, means ‘to struggle with God’.

I think I’ve leaked some information to my blog entries about this in the past, but I do believe this is the first time I’ve come right out and said my intentions with such positive conviction. I’ve only really come around to realizing my intentions myself over the last month or so, but especially in the last few weeks. Again, this process takes a year or more, and is something not done idly or impulsively. I’ll keep you all posted.

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Inspiration, Philosophical