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I love questions that do not have one right answer. They allow each of us to explore the question and connect in our own way. Defining what it means to be Jewish is a perfect example. Close your eyes. What images come to mind when you think about what it means to be Jewish?
The InterfaithFamily staff from across the country (San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston) came together for two days of retreat and meetings in our national office. One of the first questions posed to us was â€śWhat does it mean to be Jewish?â€ť In true retreat style, paper and markers were brought out and we each got to draw our own answer to this profound question.
What would you draw to show what it means to be Jewish?
I drew a picture of a home and, next to it, people holding hands in a circle. You may notice that my artistic ability is not amazing. My people took the form of stick figures and I showed diversity by using every color of marker that was available. As I started to think about how to explain my drawing to my colleagues, I realized you could â€śreadâ€ť my picture from left to right like English, or from right to left like Hebrew.
In â€śEnglish,â€ť my drawing says that one needs Judaism in their home to transmit values and traditions to the next generation. Then, one needs a community to share those values and traditions. To deepen the connections and share the experiences. But my explanation didnâ€™t stop there.
I thought about my own familyâ€™s history and that of many interfaith households. For them, Judaism often starts with the community, reading my picture in â€śHebrew.â€ť It is with this community and their support that each individual family can find Jewish traditions and values that they want to embrace. Often they donâ€™t have the tools to do this on their own. For them the community aspect is imperative. And with a supportive community, Judaism can infuse into traditions in the home as well.
My colleagues came up with so many different interpretations. Iâ€™m curious what you imagine when you answer the question, â€śWhat does it mean to be Jewish?â€ť Please share your thoughts in the comments sectionâ€”and remember, there is not one â€śrightâ€ť answer.
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