May 24, 2019

The Four Fathers of Passover

“The High Holidays were approaching. And the thought of praying in a language I didn’t understand, to an unrelatable, angry, male, biblical God seemed tedious – a pale shadow of the kind of spirituality I was after.

I believed in Wicca. I believed in its beauty and its power. I just didn’t feel the same about Judaism.

I made my announcement to my family, informing them that I was no longer Jewish.

I didn’t expect any trouble. After all, Judaism was a religion which we practiced two days out of every year. Never at any moment had I been led to believe that it was of much importance. But apparently it was. My father reddened. I had crossed a line that I scarcely knew existed.

He was angry. He made it clear that there was no way in hell that I would be skipping services. Moreover, he didn’t give a damn what I did in the woods with Annie Noonan. I was a Jew whether I liked it or not.

Preferably “not.”

Eighteen years later, my father and I are still arguing about Judaism. And while the terms of the argument have changed, the heart of the thing has not.

I live in Israel now. I attend a daily minyan. I keep kosher. I’m a far cry from Orthodox, but my observance trends upwards with the years, not downwards.

My father finds this both puzzling and worrying. He frets that my kosher stringencies may someday alienate me from my own family. He thinks that religion and religious people are exactly what’s wrong with the world.”

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