I’ve been Jewish my whole life. I had a naming ceremony, a Bat Mitzvah, a confirmation. I took Hebrew in high school. I went to Israel in college. And though Judaism and I have had a few years in there where we were not quite two peas in a pod, I have never not loved my religion, its history, and its community.
But I’ve also never seen my religion as anything but the status quo. It’s comfortable for me because it’s what I grew up with. I love it because it’s what I know. I’ve never looked at it as an outsider, or experienced the traditions as someone with no background in them. I will never have the opportunity to look at Judaism as something new and novel.
Dan and I went to services on Sunday night, and again yesterday, in observance of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. I should clearly state here that Dan is not Jewish and has no intentions of converting, but one of the [many] reasons I married him was because he agreed to participate, in spite of this, in Jewish holidays and events, and to help raise our [future] children Jewish.
But this was the first time he had come with me to synagogue. And first timers come with a lot of questions. And I found that I didn’t know how to explain ANYTHING to someone who hadn’t grown up Jewish.
Our synagogue has the ten commandments posted in Hebrew above the bima (aka. “pulpit” in Christian circles). Dan, obviously not being able to read them, asked me what they were. I told him they were the ten commandments, and then, in an effort to give him more information, continued: “You see how most of them start with ‘lo?’ Lamed, aleph?”
He looked at me like I was crazy. “Is that the X next to the squiggly thing?”It was the first time I realized that my husband, unlike everyone else around me, can’t read Hebrew.
It’s a strange sensation to realize that something that seems to natural to you, something that seems obvious and that you’ve known your whole life, isn’t the same for someone else – especially someone close to you. And for the first time, as Dan learned more about what it was to be Jewish, I had the opportunity to truly see what it was like to not be.