#myjudaism grew out of a Times of Israel post by writer Sarah Tuttle-Singer #MyJudaism is a wild dance, which quickly went viral (shared 1.8k times). Beit Hatfutsot promoted the campaign along with The Times of Israel, resulting in over 28 amazingly colorful and personal stories of what being Jewish means to YOU. To participate, send in under 250 words your story and a photo to [email protected].
myjudaism by Dina Ergas-Guez: I receive my Judaism as a gift, a kind of crystal that allows me to reflect myself in my people and in other people. More than 5000 years of history that fell on me like a Borges story. My Judaism generates pride and humility, individuality and universality. Recibí mi judaísmo como un don, un cristal que me permite verme reflejada en mi pueblo y en otros pueblos. Más de 5000 años de historia que cayeron sobre mí, como en un cuento de Borges. Mi judaísmo me genera orgullo y humildad, individualidad y universalidad.
#MyJudaism by Anna Hecht: My Judaism is proud and humble, generous and careful.
My Judaism is sharing and private, both reckless and timid.
My Judaism forgives but does not forget.
My Judaism is full of surprises, small and large miracles and
My Judaism is happy and wise, alive and joyful.
Always changing, always staying the same.
myjudaism / by Joel Rabinowitz: For me, Judaism is fulfilling the 2000 year old dream of returning to the land of Israel, serving in an army that protects the Jewish people,” living” not just observing the holidays, knowing that Chanuka has arrived because for weeks in advance they are selling Jelly doughnuts, or knowing that Purim is around the corner because weeks in advance they are selling Hamantashin and costumes for the children. For me Judaism is a way of life, natural and alive. It is not something i learned in Hebrew day school or was told by my parents that I had to do. For me, Judaism is seeing the Jewish code of ethics observed by young and old, religious and secular. Tikun olam, helping the less fortunate, consoling those who are in mourning, rejoicing with those who are celebrating, saying Shabbat shalom to strangers who pass me when I’m on my way to Synagogue. Judaism is seeing my children remind me to bless them before the Kiddush on Shabbat, and hearing my grandchildren speak to me in Hebrew. And lastly for me, Judaism is a source of pride, for all the accomplishments our people have made to humanity throughout the generations, in both good and terrible times, to all…. no matter their race, creed or color.
myjudaism / by Samantha Vinokor: My Judaism is my central identity. It’s strong enough to stay whole and embrace divisions & diversity. My Judaism connects me to people all around the world through our shared history, and binds us together for a shared future.
myjudaism / by Pedro Armada: My Judaism is family. It’s the years-long pull in the recesses of my soul that beckoned me back to a heritage lost for centuries. It’s the voices of countless ancestors I’ll never know or find who had to hide their faith. It’s the friends we made at our shul. It’s my wife’s blessing sung to the glow of shabbat candles or her humming L’cha Dodi as our son falls asleep. It’s Sh’ma Yisrael whispered into the ear of a sleepy boy and sealed with a kiss. It’s the ache in the marrow of my bones for a land I’ve yet to set foot in. My Judaism is pride. It says, “take on one more mitzvah” and urges, “learn more!” It wrestles with Torah; it pulls me down a path of contemplation, of prayer, of more observance, of linking in to something greater than my own horizon.To a world that sneers “Jew,” it says proudly, “I refuse to be afraid.” My people were not burned in the ovens so I could hide who I am.” My Judaism ties me to 3000 years of hope, tears, promise, learning, debate, struggle, and prophetic, righteous indignation. My Judaism isn’t easy. It prods and examines.When a beggar asks, “Can you spare some change?” it whispers, “you were strangers in the Land of Egypt.” It pushes me, sometimes against my laziness, apathy, and my cynicism, to try be a better person. And when I fail, it gives me a lens through which to examine those failures and a push to try harder next time. My Judaism isn’t just part of me–it’s who I am.
myjudaism / by Talia Avnon Benveniste: My Judaism is a treasure box that captures my future and my past. My hopes and worries, my loves and hates, my country and my land. It’s my broken heart and your precious soul. It is how I live and how I will be buried. It is not enough. It is all.
myjudaism / by Ron Merkel: My Judaism is a colorful Star of David, filled with beautiful memories, traditions, Israel, Hebrew and values.
Photo: Yom Haatzmaut celebrations as a Jewish Agency shaliach, Hillel, Stanford University, 2010
myjudaism / by Yosef Abramowitz: To be a renewable light unto the nations… all the rest is commentary.
Photo: Bono and Yosef (“Captain Sunshine”) celebrate the solar field in Rwanda at the Agahozo Shalom Youth Village, which is supplying 6% of the country’s power www.EnergiyaGlobal.com
myjudaism / by Tasha Karlyuka: I don’t like to speak about Jewishness, because I have always believed that talking about it with non-Jewish people is dangerous, while with a Jew – boring.
But my Jewish grandmother and grandfather loved to talk about it and so I became accustomed. Whether searching for “our people” in the crowd or on TV, and if they are brilliant and talented to be proud, attributing them as family members. But if a person is poor, denying his Jewish origin – this is a kind of a Jewish game. I resist it, but, alas, I am not always successful. The day before yesterday it was hanging at an event at Beit Hatfutsot. Today – in my room.
You must love your parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, home, town, and tradition. But loving other parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, home, town, and their traditions is necessary too.
I love Israel – not the whole, but pieces. People who live here are close to me. I’m not afraid of them, even at night if I meet them on a deserted street, I trust them. And it’s enough, right? Living in a new country – even if, in the historic homeland – and to not be afraid of walking in the moonlight. This country is like an ideal dress that was sewn especially for me.
I do not care who someone is, but I care what kind of person they are.
I am a Jew, because I love my mother’s soup with mazah dumplings. I think that if more things in life smelled like mom and home-made food, we would not have to take guns and shoot strangers.
myjudaism / by Inessa Genkina: My name is Inessa and I’m 24 years old. I grew up in St. Petersburg, in a family that was non-observant and discreet about its Jewish identity, although I’ve known that I’m Jewish since I was six years old or probably earlier. I often heard odd words like “Jews”, “matzah”, “gefilte fish”, “Hanukkah” and more. Of course I was curious, and I remember asking, “What do these words mean?” or “What’s the difference between us, Jews, and other people?”
My parents told me about Israel, our Jewish historical homeland, but warned me not to discuss these kinds of details, or even reveal my Jewish identity since others would “not understand me correctly.” That was just the beginning of my Jewish story.
While attending a Russian secular public school, the next phase in my Jewish discovery was joining a Jewish summer camp at thirteen. That experience was a game changer! I went to camp for five summers, and as a result, started to take part in all the Jewish activities for teens in St. Petersburg. Slowly, I realized that my friends were Jewish and that I was part of a bigger community with a strong Jewish identity.
I was the first in my family to start lighting Hanukah candles and attend synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was eager to hear and learn about everything Jewish, which led me to complete a special course, eventually becoming a counsellor in a variety of Jewish camps. I worked for seven years with children and teens, revealing facets of the Jewish world, as it was shared with me over the years. I became project manager for the Jewish Agency for Israel in St. Petersburg and very involved with Jewish activities.
In considering my next step in my Jewish journey, I searched for a significant and meaningful challenge – to test my limits and see if I could do even more. With this in mind, I decided to visit and experience daily life in Israel.
This is how I became a MASA participant interning at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People. I am open and excited as my Jewish story develops…
myjudaism / by Alex Clain: My Judaism is a heritage and a system of beliefs and a family of people that is supportive and loving (besides the guilt). This heritage is in all of us Jews and affects many of those outside Judaism as well. It is a heritage of appreciation: appreciation for safety, appreciation for the arts, appreciation for science, appreciation of each other, and appreciation for this life. In the doctrine there is very little focus on anything after this life. This is key and is expressed through our phrase “tikkun olam” (heal the world). Tikkun olam does not come with any reward or punishment, except the direct effect of one’s actions. This essential part of Judaism is at the root of appreciating the here and now. It does not make Judaism unique, but it does make it special, at least for me.
myjudaism / by Nadine Wagner: Even though I am mostly nonobservant my Judaism seeps through every bone and every pore in my body. My Judaism is that feeling of nirvana when walking down a Tel-Aviv street on a balmy Friday night in 1981 when apartment doors were open and seeing candles lit in each apartment. My Judaism is that same sensation when welcoming Shabbat at the Kotel and feeling at one with the universe. My Judaism is the schma and remembering that it was my bedtime prayer as a child. My Judaism is the feeling of being grounded knowing that I am a part of a people that survived 5,000 years despite enormous odds. My Judaism is the pride that I feel in knowing that not only did we survive but how we have flourished in every way possible….the arts, science medicine and human kindness to name a few. My Judaism is sometimes attending Shabbat services on a Friday night and getting goose bumps upon hearing L’cha Dodi and tears at hearing the ancient chants. My Judaism is my love of learning inherited from my ancestors the sages. My Judaism is my love of Israel and being aware of the need for my people to have a homeland after either living as second class citizens or being thrown out of so many lands we inhabited. My Judaism is knowing the importance of Tzedakah. My Judaism is the blood of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, brutally murdered in the Shoah, that courses through my veins. My Judaism is me!
myjudaism / by Genie Milgrom: My name is Genie Milgrom and I would like to share my journey back in time as I crossed the planet in search of my Crypto-Jewish or Marrano ancestors. I was able to find 15 grandmothers in an unbroken maternal lineage going back to the early 1500s.
I was brought up in a Roman Catholic family in Havana, Cuba. Descending from Spanish ancestry did not ensure that my life would be lived within that realm.
In response to my strong feelings and an affinity towards Judaism, my search for my family’s past took on a deeper significance as I researched my maternal lineage and not only discovered but documented and verified my Pre-Inquisition Spanish Roots to Fifteenth Century Spain and Portugal where they lived first as Jews, then as Crypto Jews and finally as Roman Catholics.
I was able to unravel the web of lies and deceit that my family had spun around themselves in order to survive the Spanish Inquisition. They lived with one foot in each world as they converted to Catholicism openly, while secretly practicing their own religion underground.
myjudaism / by Rivkah Lambert Adler: My Judaism is singing with my husband’s Friday night kiddush because every single person who makes kiddush has a different tune and I like his best of all. My Judaism is the idiosyncratic ways we sing bentsching and make havdalah and the handwashing song we made up as a family when our kids were young that they find humiliating now but is still so sweet in my ear. My Judaism is my hands kneading challah dough in my kitchen in Israel because I dreamed of that for so many years before we could come and also the motzei that I make on the challah that I made, no matter who sits at our Shabbat table because we looked it up and I can. My Judaism is bentching my children on Friday nights when they are with us because they are with us so rarely now that they are grown. My Judaism is the words of Tehillim that are worn into grooves in my brain because I am friends with many chapters in Tehillim, which is really surprising considering how I mostly avoid the siddur and definitely avoid shul whenever possible, even though my husband is the kind of rabbi who worked in shuls before we made aliyah. My Judaism is picturing every doorway of my home when I say Shema in bed at night. My Judaism isn’t shy AT ALL about alerting others that something – a prayer, a mechitza, a comment, a seating arrangement, an opinion – slights women. My Judaism is teaching others something I learned that I find fascinating and I want someone else to find it fascinating as well. My Judaism is giving charity because I really believe that’s what God wants me to do and my Judaism is not being shy about asking the people who come to my door asking for money to pray for the people I love. My Judaism is studying a chapter of Tanach a day, knowing it will take years to finish. My Judaism is books and books and books, on every surface. My Judaism is the view into Jerusalem from the back porch of my apartment in the portion of land that was given to the Tribe of Yehuda. My Judaism is emunah and more emunah and gratitude always because that’s how I feel closest to God. My Judaism is crying from joy and crying from the privilege of living in the Land of Israel. My Judaism is working to soften my rough edges so I am better and kinder today than I was yesterday. My Judaism is the song of Jerusalem, the music of saying Yerushalayim. My Judaism is craving awareness of God, always and always. My Judaism is the tingle of the breath of Moshiach constantly on the back of my neck because I really really really believe he’s that close.
myjudaism / by Batsheva Benaiges: My Judaism has faith in G_d and his Torah.
I believe in a unique G_d who created this world.
My Judaism believes in coexistence, sharing and Peace,
because the Torah teaches us the importance of every human life. I believe that everyone has a place and a defined role on earth.
My Judaism practices, keeps Shabbat and Jewish holidays,
I feel the Neshama during these special days and I feel serene and happy when I light the candles on Shabbat evening.
My Judaism remembers our common biblical and modern history,
I commemorate each of the major sad or happy events.
Hannuka is my favorite celebration, one where we spread light and publish our Judaism.
My Judaism wants to create a Jewish family, and transmit to future generations my Judaism, which does not come from my parents but from my choice to join the Jewish people.
My Judaism is the gift I want to offer to my children.
My Judaism is a choice that I made, to be part of the Jewish people.
myjudaism / by Israela Rivka Avraham: My first name says so much to me, it’s Israela. It’s me the wrestler with the internal as well as external views of ‘what is a Jew’. Israela is a princess of her people. That may sound arrogant but what it means to me is the responsibility to lead by example because people do watch. It also is a name that connects me to my not to distant family and my ancient family.
My Judaism is that wrestling with family, with interpretations of our history and more immediately with the land of the sand beneath my feet. I think I was meant to carry this name to keep me very connected, no excuses, here to do my job to be the best Jew I can be with each moment I have.
myjudaism / by Miriam Karp: My Judaism, my stepping into the world of observance, is much like our slip of a homeland. The Torah world, Israel, may appear small—but astonish in their magnetic power, transcending their compact boundaries.
My Judaism draws from Bubby’s mandel bread and mysterious tales— of the charm of her sweet shtetel, of the violent pogrom that butchered Uncle Avroham Yitchok— seared into a child’s memory. It’s the Yiddish jokes and Jappy suburbs of my youth; but morphed, grown roots and sprouted wings.
I could never have imagined myself a wigged rabbi ‘s wife, mother of ten kids, milk and meat dishes, not touching my phone or computer on Shabbat, making challah, purging crumbs on Pesach. Why do I? What’s there, inside those books of deep wisdom and gilded letters; what goes on around those laden tables? What’s that potion of some kind of inner harmony they spoon in with their chicken soup?
My Judaism is a shimmering well of depth, concentrated power and meaning. My Judaism is demanding, but full of chein, of grace. It connects: to above. To our golden land, to our precious people, with a bond of tempered steel.
My Judaism teaches restraint, dignity, balance, humility. Its daily path, halacha, takes disparate, free-flowing energy and actions and ideas and focuses them into a laser-beam of intensity.
My Judaism is timeless ideas, holy letters, evocative words that are more than simple vehicles of communication; levels and layers and depths beyond measure. My Judaism transcends time, linking generations.
My Judaism is a nigun, a soaring Klezmer soul-sound.
And it’s simcha, love, fun—twirling—dreidels, graggers, around a sweet bride, the joy of belonging so deep and connected so totally
My Judaism is filled with doe-eyed children of innocence, sweet chutzpah, and spirit.
My Judaism crafts a tangible holiness in those who cling to its ways. It gifts us with tzaddikim, humans of such whole integrity they arouse our souls to taste the simple realness of G-d and Torah.
My Judaism implants in each neshama, each member of our weathered tribe, a passionate mission to make this world a better place. This burning fire abundantly pours into many vessels, many ‘isms; breaking through barriers in the arts, sciences, politics and every frontier. It burdens and blesses the world with conscience, as Hitler realized and hated us for; the fruits of that conscience enrich the world.
My Judaism makes day to day life a chance to transcend, to dig deep, to elevate, to see each moment as imbued with purpose and possibility.
PHOTO: Miriam and her family. Miriam is 4th from the left, back row.
myjudaism is a wild dance / by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
myjudaism is the caressing desert breeze / by Adele Raemer
myjudaism is a crown and a shield / by Paula R. Stern
myjudaism is everything to me / by Aliza Lipkin
myjudaism is unity / by Lara Chicofsky
myjudaism is a full circle of chesed / by Mazal Oaknin
myjudaism is tailored to fit / by Yafit Fishbach Rosen