March 4, 2014

Who really is a Jew?

Will this debate rage on? Are only Orthodox Jews "real" Jews?

I was born into a family that has been in the Reform movement at the same Temple since 1880, the same as my wife. We both can trace our families to Vilna and I am possibly a descendant of the Vilna Gaon....

Yet, we were both born Jews. Our Grandparents on one side were Orthodox.
We did not go to Hebrew day. I dropped Hebrew at 10 years old.

But I have always been a Jew and at times really had no idea why.

Was it the food and the Holidays that we did keep?

Our families had assimilated.
When did I realize that?
I didn't even realize that we had assimilated until I started on the road to Tshuvah.

I then assessed where we were as a family, and noted that:

1)My children did not go to Hebrew Day
2)My wife knew more about Judaism then I ever will and I understand what a Mitzvah I received by her marrying me. She went to every Jewish Summer camp and was leader in TYCON, NFTY and virtually all of the movements.
3)My oldest is just unaware, my middle is very educated in Judaism and has read a lot but considers himself ethnically Jewish and feels no attachment to Religion, my youngest is the most active and was confirmed and traveled to Israel for 6 Weeks and plans to return
4)They ALL think I am a little nuts to want to make Aliyah.
5)I clearly need a strong structure to my observance and that the Reform Temple is not that.
6)That if I lead by example my youngest will follow and the oldest may as well to please me. The middle child is not out of the picture yet.
7)That a lifestyle change is less threatening to them, then IDF Service and the Arabs as a roadblock to Aliyah..
8)I am neither a young or rich man and need to be in excellent shape in both categories to have a hope of surviving Alyah.
9) That yes, My wife and I need a pilot trip to Israel to alleviate culture difference fears.
10) That I still have elderly relatives who rely on me now for some things and that that will only accelerate as they age.
11) That I feel the calling, but I am not yet ready to walk into the furnace...
12) That I will not give up.


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