Sitting in Torah class I think about what a strange journey brought me here. My parents came from very religious families, and were each educated in religion. They became agnostics because of their experiences in Russia questioning how religion explained the evils they saw in Russia (pogroms and prejudices) My Jewish education focused on culture and values. I attended Yiddish school and remember long discussions about topics such as the importance of giving, honoring ones parents and welcoming the stranger. We celebrated major Jewish holidays as family events rather than religious occasions.
When I married, Bill and I agreed that we wanted our children to have more of a Jewish education than we did. We found Temple Jeremiah. It was a year or two old, and was the right place for us. Services were mostly in English so that we could understand the prayers. They needed religious school teachers so I volunteered, and learned enough to stay ahead of my third grade class.
We started regularly attending Friday night services. They were held in the Rabbis home and included a brief service followed by a lecture or discussion. Adult learning classes at Temple Jeremiah remind me of those days.
The more I learned the more I wanted to learn. I became a regular at Adult Learning and then started attended the Shabbat Torah study.
I have always taken great pride in being Jewish. Torah study has helped me reflect on some of the bigger questions, how do we understand a God that allows evil? How do we reconcile Jewish tradition with a life in the modern world.
I used to think my parents would be surprised to see me study Torah weekly with my husband and daughter. Now I think that had they known about Reform Judaism they might have been in class with me.
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- Jeremiah Gems- Lisa Guralnick - September 17, 2017
- Jeremiah Gems- Norma Brown - September 16, 2017