January 17, 2020

My 2019 Jewish Bucket List

Photo from Pinterest.

When I started writing for the Jewish Journal last spring, I found myself drawn to the variety of different Jewish events I attended and the Jews from across the spectrum I interviewed that were doing interesting and meaningful things. For the first time since I moved to Los Angeles several years ago, I realized that there were lots of cool things for Jews to do in Los Angeles and I wanted in. 

Raised Conservative in the Midwest, I went to Hebrew school and had a bat mitzvah. We celebrated every major Jewish holiday and some of the minor ones. We still do. But since moving to L.A. I really hadn’t immersed myself in Jewish activities. 

Over the years I attended Sinai Temple’s Friday Night Live singles mixer a few times. I occasionally attended services at different synagogues, but there was nothing consistent. 

However, over the past year, thanks to my work with the Journal, I discovered that the more I am exposed to Jewish experiences, the more I crave them. I don’t want to just write about them, I want to be immersed in them. So, at our last editorial meeting of the year, I mentioned that. I spoke of how I’d always wanted to learn Yiddish and perhaps I could do an article about it. Maybe even a column.

“OK, Deb,” David Suissa said. “Do it.”  

Then I mentioned how I also wanted to immerse myself in more cultural Jewish experiences and with the New Year upon us it would be the perfect time to try new things. I revealed I had always wanted to learn how to bake challah. 

To which David replied, “Well, if you’re going to do two things, you may as well do a dozen. One a month in 2019.”

I discovered that the more I am exposed to Jewish experiences, the more I crave them. I don’t want to just write about them, I want to be immersed in them.

And just like that, my 2019 Jewish Bucket List column was born. Over the next 12 months I have committed to delving into a new Jewish experience each month, which I will share on these pages.

In my other life, when I’m not freelance writing, I’m a coach who helps individuals and businesses achieve their goals. The accountability piece is perhaps the most powerful. Once you tell people you plan to do something, the more likely you are to do it. I excel at holding others accountable. And now you, our readers, can hold me accountable.

However, as I embark on these 12 months of 12 Jewish experiences, I would love your input on suggestions for me to expand my Jewish horizons in Los Angeles. 

I have ideas for three of the months, but I need nine more: 

Take a Yiddish class
Bake challah
Take an Israeli folk dancing class

Beyond these assignments, I’m looking for suggestions. What do you consider a cultural Jewish experience in Los Angeles I should try? Is there something you take part in that you think I will enjoy? What would you like me to experience on your behalf? Off the bat, I think we can safely say at least a third of these will be food-related. We are, after all, Jewish.

Please send me your ideas for my Jewish bucket list to deckerling@gmail.com, or comment on this post.

Debra Eckerling is a contributing writer to the Jewish Journal and a goal coach.