I am ready for winter, or even reliable fall, just something other than the confinement of heat. A friend pointed out to me recently that there is something about summer that is conducive to hopelessness; maybe it’s the way the city empties out, or the lack of days when it’s passable to go outside. Whatever it is, it’s not helpful.
My days manage to be long and short and full and empty. This morning at brunch, our conversation was around Jewish continuity. (It’s debatable as to whether or not this is a step up from our previous brunch topic of oral sex.) We discussed whether Conservative Judaism will live or die, the role of independent minyanim, and whether or not it’s possible to remain connected to Judaism without believing in Gd. The result is that all day I’ve been contemplating this conversation.
When I was a little kid, I worried from time to time that I’d learn that I wasn’t really Jewish. I don’t actually know where this fear came from, but in retrospect, it makes sense. Being Jewish made me rare and special in a way that I couldn’t see myself being in any other way. I didn’t know then, of course, about the arguments surrounding who a Jew is, or can be, only that I didn’t want this specialness to be taken from me, or worse, have never really existed in the first place.
When Jewish education is good, Jews have not only literacy and language, but also confidence and a feeling of ownership over their Jewish lives and identities. It’s hard to really lose the knowledge, but the confidence, that’s easy to rid someone of. You can certainly bludgeon it away until they don’t remember ever having had it, and it’s hard to get it back.
For whatever reason, my ownership fibers are strong regarding Jewish identity- I know now that no one can take it away from me -but my confidence, that has wavered. The ownership part has been bred by experience and tenacity and righteous indignation. Maybe it can outwit the part of myself that’s tired, frustrated and scared. I’m getting sick of that part. Really.