Being Jewish is definitely a two-way street. While it’s not always easy and it sometimes requires a lot of effort on our part, Judaism gives back to us so much in return.
Being a part of the Jewish people is focused on a few main ideas. One of them is keeping Judaism alive. It is important as Jews that we uphold the traditions that have been passed down over generations and we observe the holidays that are part of our religion. This is the part of Judaism that creates a strong bond between every Jew and keeps people all across the world connected.
Another main idea of being Jewish stresses not only helping Jews, but helping everyone. We are obligated to practice tzedakah, mitzvot, and Tikkun Olam. Acting righteously, following commandments that help others, and repairing the world are all expected of us because of the basic moral code that goes along with Judaism. Being a part of the Jewish people also involves the consistent pursuit of knowledge. It’s not enough to just sit through religious school to make it to our bar or bat Mitzvah days and then leave. We are encouraged to continue with Hebrew school and to always ask questions. The final main idea of being a part of the Jewish people deals with pride. We’re supposed to be proud of everything Judaism has become over thousands of years. We’re supposed to appreciate all of the struggles and hardships our ancestors endured to win us the liberties we have today. And we’re supposed to educate others, especially younger generations, on everything we know about Judaism so they realize how great it is.
While being a part of the temple involves everything that is included in being a part of the Jewish people, there is a difference between the two. Being a part of the Jewish people involves a lot of effort on our part, but being a part of the temple is where you really see Judaism giving back to you. I really don’t think I could ever find the words to properly thank the temple for everything it’s given me over the past ten years. I’ve found a place where I can go for anything – to learn, to pray, to cry, to have fun, and to spend hours talking about everything and nothing. But while the building itself is a place of comfort, the community inside it is what really makes that environment. Not only have I found a second home here, but I have found a second family. I’ve found a group of people that I feel more comfortable with than anyone else. Being a member of the temple means forming a bond with a tight-knit group of people who will stand by you no matter what.
I think that being a part of the Jewish people and being a part of the temple must coexist. You cannot truly understand being a part of one without the presence of the other.