Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Choosing Observance

Found an interesting blog run by a Conservative convert who seeks a community with an observance level beyond what is commonly performed by the relatively lax Conservative world. Amazing how the two of us came from very different perspectives but seem to hold a few key considerations in common:

"However, what I’ve come to realize is that I am becoming something of an “out of the shul Jew”. What I mean by that is that my sense of Judaism isn’t just grounded in official synagogue study and activities. Rather I increasingly experience my Judaism outside of the shul. For example first thing in the morning when I get up and wash my hands, recite morning blessings, put on one of my Tallit Katan and force (yes sometimes those first few minutes are excruciatingly difficult) my way into the living room to daven Shacharit. I can feel my Jewishness bubbling up through my keeping kosher even when it’s difficult. I certainly feel it when Shabbos is made sacred and I’m not talking about going to shul because that’s the easy part. It’s in the preparing of a lovely table and putting on nice clothing before Shabbos starts, then sharing a Sabbath Seder with friends. I can feel my Jewishness in the struggle to stay out of the car, off the computer and television and in not spending money for 25 hours. I feel my Judaism deeply when walking down the street sporting a Kippah and someone gives me a smart ass remark. I feel like a Jew every time I manage to make even the smallest sacrifice, out of a sense of commitment to observance. Especially during those times when no one is watching and I could get away with cheating ,if I wanted to. I feel my Judaism every time I act from a place of loving kindness and I feel it when I miss the boat by falling into Loshon Hara but am able to catch myself even if it’s after-the-fact and do Teshuvah.

Am I being a little self-important and self obsessed, maybe so, but I’m not sure if that’s such a bad thing. I don’t want synagogue affiliation or even denominational affiliation to be my primary source of Jewish identity. I want it to be observance and more importantly, I want to be in an environment that supports that kind of lifestyle."



Woddrow/Conservadox said...

I can totally relate.

Holy Hyrax said...


I am finding my Judaism more in the synagogue. Perhaps its because I was never part of an actual Jewish community and now I found a pretty good one.

tikkunger said...

Hi there I’m Avi (the author of the quoted post).

I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by and for linking us on your blog. I always find it interesting when people from different backgrounds find themselves in similar spaces, psycho-spiritually speaking.

BTW I have subscribed to your RSS so I will be reading!

alex said...

Say good-bye to your enthusiasm, tikkunger.
(Sorry Orthoprax, but I'm just calling it like I see it.)

Orthoprax said...


It's not so much something that goes only one way, but Judaism does definitely take a big stake out of shul.


Sure. ;-) Thanks for stopping by.


I don't understand? Why would his enthusiasm by dampened?

Rabban Gamliel said...

He's in the wrong movement for himself but guess what you don't need a movement.

tikkunger said...

Nah, I’m not in the wrong movement. I just seem to like making things hard for myself! As for not needing a movement, I think that’s really true when it comes to JBB’s (Jews By Birth) but less so for JBC’s (Jews By Choice aka Converts). Regardless I believe in movements. More importantly I want to belong to a movement, so I will keep finding ways to make it worth, even if that means for every to steps forward taking one step back.

Garnel Ironheart said...

If one looks at the fundamentally important root mitzvos of Jewish practice, one finds three:
1) Kashrus
2) Shabbos
3) Niddah

None of these has anything to do with the shul. None of them emphasizes the role of men over women or vice versa. Well adjusted Jews who allow Judaism into every fact of their lives know this, consciously or not. A Jew can be completely observant in the absence of a shul. So this guy has discovered what he was never taught in convert school - how to be a real Jew. Good on him.