Has anyone ever asked you how you feel about being Jewish?
Maybe it’s something that you don’t even think about.
You just are Jewish, and that’s all you need to say.
Maybe you go to Hebrew school every week after regular school (or a Jewish day school) and learn the alef-bet and the prayers and prepare for your bar or bat mitzvah because you want to do all these things.
Or maybe you don’t want to go to Hebrew school (or a Jewish day school), and your parents tell you that you have to go–whether or not you want to–because you’re Jewish.
It’s how you learn to become a Jew, they say.
But what’s that mean, exactly?
Are we Jewish because of the books that we study or the kinds of food that we eat or the way we pray? (What if we don’t study Jewish books… or eat Jewish food… or know Jewish prayers? Does that mean we’re not Jewish?)
Are we Jewish only because our parents and grandparents are Jewish?
Or are we Jewish because we choose to be Jewish, whether or not our parents are Jewish?
If someone asked you to describe how you feel about being Jewish, what would you say?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1) Write a letter to God … and describe how you feel about being Jewish.
2) Pretend you’re debating God. Write down your questions AND God’s answers.
3) Make a list of your favorite things about being Jewish and explain why they make you feel good.
4) Make another list of your least-favorite things about being Jewish and explain why they make you feel not-so-good.
5) Write a letter to your parents explaining why you want (or don’t want) a bar or bat mitzvah. (Or why you want or don’t want to go to Hebrew school.)
6) Do you ever wonder what being Jewish was like for your mom or dad or grandparents or aunts or uncles when they were your age? Think up a list of questions for them… and interview them about their childhoods.
6) Keep a daily journal for a week (or longer) and write about something you do each day that reminds you of being Jewish. Does the reminder of being Jewish make you feel better or worse? Why?
7) Write a holiday story about a boy or girl your age and find a way to include one or more of these objects in the story: a tallit, a mezuzzah, a kiddush cup, a siddur, a menorah. (Or choose another Jewish ceremonial object that you’d like to include in the story.)
If you’d like to share your responses to these questions (or if there’s anything else that you’d like to tell us about being Jewish), you’re welcome to write to: email@example.com.
Thanks for taking the time to think about being Jewish.