Finding My Authentic Jewish Voice

Yom Kippur – Atonement and Return. Atonement for being absent from God’s presence for so long, and a celebration of returning to it now. I left Judaism before I was twelve; I wanted to become an adult of the world. Now I am ready to return, and to find my place as an adult within Judaism.

Part of the process of maturing and growing up, is learning who you are and who you are not. I am not my father and his framed de-baptismal certificate; I am not my mother and her, “ham and latkes” family Hanukah celebrations; I am not Robin and his atheistic certainty that everything can be regulated to a computer program or formula; I am not Dave with his quiet Anglican faith; I am not Graham with his devout Catholicism, and his religion’s broad and nuanced understanding of sin and repentance. I am Miriam Doba, hektanah – meaning the small one, or standing- small-before-God (although I’m sure there’s a better word in Hebrew that means, ‘humble’). I have to come to terms with how that entity is different from the people I love, and those who have influenced me.

I have been fighting a lot more with Graham lately although, perhaps it is more accurate to say I have been wrestling with him. In “Seasons of our Joy,” Waskow defines wrestling in the Jewish context as,

“a close grappling that has some elements of fighting, and some elements of embracing in it, at the same time and in the same process. There are both love and anger in a wrestle. In a wrestle I do not pretend my partner is the same as me – and a I do not pretend I am the same as my partner. We are two; I, who I fully am; and the other, fully other. The name of the people Israel – Yisrael – means the Godwrestler.” (“Seasons of Our Joy”, XIII, Waskow. A. 1990.)

So, I am wrestling with Graham. Some of that being apparent in the dreams I have had about him lately. To a certain extent, I am resentful and jealous of how secure he is within and with his fate, but then I know that to be hubris in and of itself because I have no idea if he wrestles daily with his Faith and with God, also.

But, as much as I still do need his love, support and guidance, I also have to find my own voice. Learn how to pray on my own two feet. I need to centre myself as a Jew within Judaism in general, and the Jewish Renewal movement specifically. To do that, I have to reject the other options – I am not atheist, or Anglican, or Catholic. I am Jewish. Wrestling is an avenue to growth; parents exist to teach their children how to grow, but at some point one needs to learn how to let themselves be. Now that I have a home, I need to let myself dwell in it.

One thought on “Finding My Authentic Jewish Voice

  1. “Within and with his faith”?

    Good. Let our further contention help us grow in understanding of our own and each other’s religions. “Iron is sharpened by iron, one person is sharpened by contact with another.” Proverbs 27:17

    And wrestling can be fun too – or so I have been led to understand.

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