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Choices

Seventh grade was a time when my friends and I began to question things. At lunch that year, we debated the questions of life, politics and religion, over peanut butter and pizza. It is here where I asked the bulk of my questions about Christianity, and received an education of other forms of Judaism. This was also the place that I was questioned about my own beliefs. One specifically cold afternoon, the topic of God came up. I proceeded in my regular fashion to reply that I did not believe in god, because I don’t. One particular friend was stunned. “You can’t be Jewish and not believe in god” she said. I told her that I could because in my form of Judaism, you were allowed to choose. This was proceeded by harsh criticism and I was administered the “Jewish test”, in which every obscure question about torah stories were whipped out, printed down and given to me, in true style. There were questions such as how many days did Esther waited before she went to Ashaverous? Or how old was Joseph when he had his first premonition? Even, what were the dimensions of Noah’s arc? Now I failed my Jewish test, I don’t know how you would fair. I have always thought that my Jewishness was a part of me, some group of people that I related to, and god was something I choose to or not to believe in. Back then, this indecision did not deter me from my religious views, because I knew that I was Jewish and no one could change that. But it made me question why I choose to believe what I did.

Webster’s defines a religion as ‘the service and worship of a god or supernatural power’. The majority of the western worlds seem to agree with this, and follow it, praying to their own gods in temples, mosques and churches. Accordingly, religion is what a person follows, prays, and looks to for inspiration and common sense. To me, this is uncharacteristic of my religious nature and my perception of Humanistic Judaism, which I have grown up with and come to believe. (Belief being accepting something as truth, which may not even be true, for who knows what the truth really is, but I digress.) The Judaism that I am growing up with is a community, a place where people gather together to relate to others. This doesn’t mean we recognize the same things, have the belief in the same principles, we all know there are differences. Our religion grew from not agreeing with the majority, and thus forming what we believed was right. We reformed, from reform. We connect ourselves to people we feel fit with us. We choose to move on, to not pray to Babaloynian gods, to stand up for the rights we deserve. This is a community where we come to debate, learn and change. These are people we care about. They may be drastically different in opinion, politics, and background or quite similar in these convictions. But, we get along, and thus form one.

Oprah said that “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” My religious training has brought me to believe in my own choices, to let myself choose who I will become and let these choices mold what I believe. It has shaped my confidence, my personality. As I began writing, I have looked back at what I have always been, and how I have changed. I have always had that opinion, those firm beliefs. I have always believed that better things were yet to come. But, I have never seemed to imagine change. But the change creeps up, and all of a sudden I am somewhere new and drastically different. It is in this difference that I have begun to find myself and learn from these differences. I see it as I have to learn to find these changes. It is my responsibility to know, to find my morals and decide the right and the wrong so that I can make choices of what I will become. From this, belongs the dignity with the choices that I have made.

The same year that I was questioned about God was an intense, finding myself year. It was the time in every good Jewish girl’s life where the Bat Mitzvah occurs, and I began to change my religious thinking as I questioned what I believe. As I look at humanistic Judaism, I still see a community and less and less of the religion. The older and older I get, the less Jewish I feel and the less, I want to feel Jewish. I feel as if I do not follow a religion, but belong to a community, which celebrates the past, present and future. I want to take that Jewish culture: the food, stories and songs and make them my own, to take some of what others follow and some of what I want. I want to be different, new, and myself. I have made a choice to choose my own, unique path. To learn. To speak. My opinions may change, and they should as I learn and grow, but the importance is I made that choice.

Follow the links below to read other Confirmation speeches.

 

Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781