Saturday, December 24, 2011

Exploring Jewish Roots

As my year of daily blogging enters its final week, and Chanukah passes it midpoint, I am beginning a new focus for 2012. With the Jewish Roots Project, I will explore my ancestry in Judaism with a wide range of activities. These include interviewing rabbis, reading a wide range of material, attending services, practicing some of the rituals, growing a nice big beard, and much more.

I'll look at Jewish art, learn about famous Jews through history, and attempt to get a comprehensive overview of 5,772 years of culture.

As an intermarried, assimilated Jew, it would be easy to simply ignore my background. Life is going just fine and I love my family. But periodically, I get a certain feeling that calls me back to my roots.

Those roots are buried but present. My family practiced Reform Judaism sporadically and without a great deal of enthusiasm. I have had a few years of Jewish education -- 7th through 10th grade -- celebrated a hastily prepared Bar Mitzvah at 13, and I spent 10 months living in Israel, feeding cows and studying Hebrew as a young adult. But it's all part of the bigger Jewish picture.

I'll record my findings and periodically post something to the new Jewish Roots Project blog. Then, on January 1, 2013, I'll assess what I've found and decide how to proceed with my relationship to Judaism for the rest of my life. Will it require more study? (I'm guessing yes). I won't join any synagogues until then, if at all. But if I've learned anything in the last several years, it's that having a focus and doing something daily that relates to it is what makes things happen. And it helps to work with other people to get support and perspective (and it just feels good, too).

So, after January 1, 2012, Test Driving Life will not necessarily be fresh daily, but be sure to visit the Jewish Roots Project as well to see what's going on.

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