Posted on July 30, 2012 by Andrea Wiese
This is very rare that I have such a long absence from blogging, but thus is life, and it happens. Since my classes ended at Pardes, I was working for NFTY. http://www.nftyisrael.org/ It’s reform Judaism’s summer trip to Israel. This was my third summer working for NFTY and my third time on the exact same trip. We spent a week in Europe in Prague, Krakow, and Warsaw. Then we fly to Israel for a four week world wind. At the end, I flew home with the kids and now I’m in Indiana for a week to see my family before I fly back to Israel to start Ulpan (Hebrew language classes) on August 5th.
A couple of things I learned: I’m not so reform. Or I’m reform in my own way, but I love Judaism a lot! I don’t love having the guitar at every Shabbat service. And I don’t like using my phone on Shabbat and I don’t like driving with the kids before Shabbat is over. And I like to do Havdalah when someone is suppose to do Havdalah, not before or after, or even the next day. I don’t personally do all these things all the time in my every day, or every Shabbat, life. But I feel like that if these things are going to be done, then they should be done at the proper time in the “correct” (open to interpretation) way. Also, some of the interpretations of the Parsha were a little too liberal for my tastes. At the end of the summer, a girl in my group wrote me a note that said, “You made me think about my Judaism because I never met a reform Jew how took their Judaism as seriously as you do.” I think it’s really important for people who love being Jewish and love practicing Judaism are present in the reform community or the knowledge in the youth will only reach a certain point. Reform Jews should also know everything about Judaism, and then make a choice to be reform, not to be reform because they don’t know more than that.
I was waiting in the airport in New York and I needed to make a phone call, and since I’m Israeli and live in Israel, I don’t have an American phone. I didn’t really see anyone I felt comfortable asking. So I was just sitting and waiting. Then, a Jewish Orthodox family came and their three boys were going on the same plane as me to Chicago. They sat down to wait for the flight. I immediately knew I could ask them to use their phone. Something about the wife’s head covering, the husbands kippa, and the boys tzitzit was very comforting and familiar to me. They quickly lent me their phone, even before I explained that I lived in Israel. I was surprised to feel more connected to Orthodox Jews in America than to any other American sitting next to me in the waiting area. But I have to say, it was nice and made sense to me.
Finally, tonight is Shabbat, and I was really sad to be in my house because we don’t have Shabbat in my home, or we never have in the past. But tonight, I forced it. I didn’t care, I really wanted it. So I put out grape juice, two pieces of bread. And with my parents, I lead the prayers in front of my parents, for the first time in my life. And then washed my hands, and then did the prayer of the “challah”. First, it was SO nice, and all anger, anxiety, and things that weren’t nice from the day suddenly ceased. And secondly, I was SO proud of myself. The prayers weren’t perfect, I definitely stumbled a couple of times, but I did it. =) And at least now I know that Shabbat is possible in my house. And I can look forward to having Shabbat instead of looking for some other place to go.