Blog Post : How Do You Jew? From Jay Herman

How Do You Jew? From Jay Herman | Anonymous (not verified) | Oct 19, 2012

Where I come from Jews eat cheeseburgers. We pray with a guitar. We go through the prayer book on Friday night (getting excited any time we skip more than 2 pages) with some English and some Hebrew (if we go to temple at all, let’s be real), and sometimes the rabbis try to make transitions or small commentaries in a singing tone instead of a speaking tone (“No, Rabbi, ‘Shabbat shalom tonight we welcome Nina Katz to light the candles’ cannot be sung to the tune of ‘Shalom Aleichem’”). On Saturdays some of our parents go to Torah study (most prefer “Car Talk”), and on Sundays, some of our parents go to church; believe it or not, some of US go to church! We go to public school on weekdays and used to go to Sunday school on weekends (survey says: we all dreaded it). In our teenage years we fell in love with camp and youth group where we decided we were going to marry someone after knowing them for four days (“But Mom, you don’t understand! It was a really meaningful four days!”).

That experience was an authentic Jewish upbringing, but without the traditional practices of kashrut and Shabbat that are more apparent in New York, what were those impulses that kept driving me to call myself Jewish? Although this brain train is still a work in progress, I have tentatively landed at my answer: community. When I am with Jewish peers or I am engaged in Jewish rituals, I have a feeling that can be loosely called “stable” and “grounded.” Even if my activity is not Jewish – going to a Nuggets game (you watch, they’re making the playoffs this year) or throwing a Frisbee – it brings me a feeling of centeredness similar to what I feel lighting candles on Shabbat or Chanukah.

This is why at the Bronfman Center this year we are unfolding a wealth of programming aimed at the Jew who identifies as Reform, Reconstructionist, non-denominational, or “from California;” maybe you have one Jewish parent and a Mormon best friend; if you’re not a vegetarian, you probably eat bacon (and think that “facon” is proof of the devil), and on Pesach you’re randomly Sephardic because you want rice. If this sounds anything like you, you should come say hi at one of our shindigs!

New programs for the Jay Herman Jew include:

·      Shabbat on Wheels – a monthly trip to a progressive temple in New York to see the various ways in which New Yorkers experience Shabbat (with a small-group dinner after to share our own Shabbat norms)

·      Meditation Shabbat – a monthly Kabbalat Shabbat service where everything slows down and the liturgy is supplemented or replaced by meaningful meditation

·      Lunch Forward – a weekly progressive discussion group with Rabbi Nikki that will focus on the intersections of progressive values, pop culture, and Jewish learning (Rabbi Nikki loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer andGirls)

·      Anything else you want – seriously, email me, we’ll have coffee, and we’ll make your dreams come true.

Here’s to progressive Judaism!