Here is an excerpt about being “Hopelessly Jewish”, extracted from my High Holiday speech to the congregation.
We live in a society that seems indifferent to whether or not families are involved religiously, a society that honors selfish greed almost as much as altruistic giving. A society that over-schedules and over-commits, rather than stepping back and cherishing all that we already have.
Yet, in the middle of all this, many of us find ourselves engaging with Judaism, focusing on thanking God for what we have and appreciating the beauty of our world.
Wouldn’t it be easier to just fit in with many others, saving countless hours by skipping services and not volunteering? Wouldn’t it be easier to ignore our questions about faith and belief in God, versus studying and struggling to find spirituality in a crazy world where we see bad people succeed and bad luck strike down wonderful, giving people? Wouldn’t it be easier to hire a tutor for our child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, rather than schlepping the kids to school every week? Wouldn’t it be easier to crash in front of the TV on a Friday night, rather than getting out to pray with a community at Shabbat services?
But we can’t – because we are “hopelessly Jewish”
I personally can’t imagine my life without thinking about my Judaism every day. I can’t imagine not giving my time and energy to TRT because of all we do for ourselves and our community. I can’t imagine ignoring those questions about the meaning of life and why I need to feel a connection to something larger than myself. I’m hopelessly Jewish. TRT and Judaism have become a central pillar in my life – and I simply can’t imagine behaving any differently.
So let me ask each of you… why are you here today? For thousands of years, as an isolated, separate community attending Yom Kippur services wasn’t an option. Jewish law was local law, and you could be arrested for failing to attend services or honoring Shabbat. But that’s not our society any more.
So why are you here? Because you choose to be here. Whether you attend services regularly, or participate in other Temple activities, or just attend High Holiday services, you chose to be here today. Judaism, and Jewish practice today, has become a choice. And by being here today, you are making a choice. Why … because at least a part of each of us is “hopelessly Jewish”.