Last spring, I stood in the parking lot of my child’s school talking with a friend and explaining that while I consider myself Jewish, I am not religious. “If I want to pray,” I told her, “I’ll take a yoga class.” It was a quip designed to ease the awkwardness that arises when people talk about religion, but later it occurred to me that what I said was true enough. I don’t know what it means to pray, but in my busy life, yoga is where I go to experience calm.
But what is also true is that I can’t seem to walk away from the heritage of Judaism that I was born into. It would be like walking away from my parents and my grandparents. The candles, wine, and bread of Shabbat. The Passover seders that I giggled through as a kid. And the fact that, as my friend Joel’s father said, when (not if) they come for you, and they will come…
I turned forty last year and suddenly it seemed that time was running out. Would I go on for the next forty years doing the same guilt-inspired trek to synagogue for the high holidays? Would I keep going to yoga classes, ever trying to spring my legs back out of crow pose and into plank position, chanting in Sanskrit about compassion for all living things, but never really knowing where all this comes from and if I even agree with it?
The main question I have for Jubuhoo is how to live. Is there a path better than the one I am blazing out here on my own? Can Judaism be a source of soul comfort and wisdom for me even if I don’t believe in God? Can I be a Buddhist and be skeptical of reincarnation? (Yes, I am aware that yoga comes from the Hindu tradition, but there are many overlapping concepts. Here’s an interesting article on that topic.) Can either help ease the terror that my time is passing? What do I want to teach my children about who they are and what it means to be human? What should I eat? What should I do? Can I still curse?
I am beginning this blog on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and a time for renewal. There are many Jewish Buddhists who have wrestled with the same questions I am asking. Their writings will undoubtedly inform and inspire me. I hope you will bring your own questions and insights to the conversation as well.
Shalom and Namaste