A Religious Experience

November 12, 2010

This past Saturday Gabriela received her Hebrew name. At first I had thought that it was a small ceremony that I was mostly doing for my extended family’s benefit. Invitations went out and I felt that it was a minor detail in the myriad of events in our lives. I don’t think of myself as an especially religious person. I am spiritual and believe in my family traditions, but I don’t always understand or believe all the stories and practices of my religion. I feel invested in following the traditions of my ancestors. I feel grateful for the life I have been given and believe that there are subtle ways I can show my gratitude through religious practices (i.e. fasting for Yom Kippur or eating matzah for Passover). I am committed to passing on these customs to my children. Other than those things, I would not call myself religious per se. Saturday morning in the midst of the Torah ceremony, standing on the bimah (stage), I felt a special feeling that I had never felt before. Standing there with my new baby in my arms, my husband and son at my side, I felt pride. Pride for the fact that I had been Bat Mitzvahed on the same stage, pride for the fact that friends and family were smiling back at us, and pride that I was bringing up two Jewish children. And somewhere within all those feelings, I felt the biggest pride in the life I had chosen. I felt proud of the husband I married. I felt proud of the kids we are rearing. I felt proud that we were all groomed, dressed nicely and there relatively on time. I just stood there looking down at everyone and I was overcome with happiness. Happiness that I didn’t expect to have at my daughter’s baby naming. And afterward as everyone dined, I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest person in the world. I don’t know if it was religion that swept over me, I’m clearly not running out to temple this upcoming weekend. There was a feeling of satisfaction for the person I have become, the family that I have and the children I am raising. And somewhere inside I think that I have Judaism to thank for that.

2 thoughts on “A Religious Experience

  1. Did you say hi to Rabbi Lifshitz or Cantor Weisberg? It was special when Cantor Weisberg did Sophia's naming! Congrats!

  2. Heli, This is one of your best blogs yet. I am very proud of you and your little family as I have always been proud of my family, which includes you. You certainly articulated your feelings in a most scholarly fashion.
    I hope I had some influence on your thinking because they match mine so succinctly. I love you, Poppy

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