“Why do you choose to be Jewish?”

I surveyed fifteen people. I asked them all: “Why do you choose to be Jewish?”

Here are their responses:

Why do I choose to be Jewish? For me it’s simple…being Jewish ads meaning to daily living. I live in the shadow of those who came before – and who made a difference in this world…this is what leads me to want to do the same. Being Jewish is the framework…it teaches me that what I do matters…not just for me, but for my family and those who come in contact with me.

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For me, it’s the “perfect storm” of where an ever-present instant community and a powerful connection to ancestors collide.  In some ways I was given a really fun, special, memorable gift and I want to give it to others to also enjoy.

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There is nothing better than being Jewish. There is no system that connects us to each other, to a larger world, and to God, with the same sense of purpose, meaning, mission, discipline, control over our impulses, elevation of our existence above the mundane, connection to a past, and flexibility to adapt to the future than Judaism. Our system of beliefs challenges the intellect, stairs of the soul, and excites the senses. What else could one ask for.

* * *

The world today offers us so many opportunities to be at one, to be calm, to relieve our suffering. Through meditation, yoga, exercise, and eating specific diets, we can be more aware and more grateful for our lives. All of these are presented as keys to the castle of happiness. And they are. I personally practice many of them, and they do make me happy.

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I am proud to be Jewish because the premise is entirely different. The goal is not to be happy, but rather to be good. For me, Judaism does not answer the question of how I can be happy. Judaism answers the question of what my purpose is. I can expect to be happy, but God expects me to be good.

* * *

I agree with the teacher Harry Faddis – I care because I care.  I somehow feel like it all goes back to identity. If you grow up thinking that Judaism is an inseparable part of you like your height or your skin color or your gender, then I think it just matters.  If on the other hand, your Judaism is an obligation that you service occasionally with uninspiring trips to the synagogue or to the homes of relatives, then I think it doesn’t matter to you. For me, it is a fundamental part of my person.

* * *

I don’t choose to be Jewish.  I was born Jewish, and therefore I am Jewish.  I choose to live a “Jewish life” because it is commanded to me by the Torah.

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I was born Jewish so it wasn’t really a choice and I never gave a thought to being anything but Jewish.  I love our values and the way we make a big deal of celebrating holiday with family and friends. I also like our food, which likes my hips and legs a bit too much in return. ;(  I love that we are a generous group of people who like to give back and often root for the underdog.  I like that we value education and learning and that we can be kind.  I hate to generalize as we are all individuals with our own personalities, but I am speaking for what I was taught growing up as some of my “responsibilities” of being Jewish.  Feel free to ask me to elaborate if you need to.

* * *

I choose to be Jewish because I believe in the faith, the traditions, and the history. When I light candles on Shabbat and cover my eyes to say a personal prayer, I believe that my prayer will be answered. When I go to the Wall in Israel and say the Shehecheyanu, I cry because I feel something special. When my friends come over for Shabbat dinners, and that is their only way of being Jewish, I feel proud that I made that experience happen for them. I like how Judaism brings family and friends together for any and all occasions; how friends and family are always behind you no matter what happens in your life; and how the Jewish community comes together in times of happy and sad.

* * *

I choose to be Jewish because it is something that has always made me unique. My ancestors fought for me to have the freedom to openly express my religion and join in the traditions of my faith. It is the piece of me that defines who I am.

* * *

I choose to be Jewish because I like the serenity of our religion, the history and strength of our people, the dignity we give to those in need, the side that allows for us to question. I like that in Judaism, women are recognized in prayer in the majority of the world. Being Jewish is not simply my religion; it is my livelihood, passion, and dedication to inform the world about how important it is to me!

* * *

 I am Jewish because it’s what my family is. It’s what I was taught. I believe in it and its values. I feel that I genuinely have more in common with the religion and the people. I feel like other religions are built on history, whereas Judaism is built – not only on history – but on traditions, values, and goodness.

* * *

I choose to be Jewish because of the culture that is associated with Judaism, the country that I get to call my “home” because I am Jewish, and the traditions that I grew up with. I do not know a lot about other religions, but there are certain aspects of Judaism such as the value on family, the amazing food, the concept of tzedakah, and the tight knit culture that I would not be willing to give up. I LOVE BEING JEWISH J.

* * *

I have blue eyes. I have wavy hair. I have Jewish DNA.

* * *

My reasons:

  • There is an amazing story of a people being formed into a nation and a society at the sudden appearance of a book called THE TORAH… [it] is a fabulous document that describes the proper way for people to relate in a society, to behave in interpersonal relations with other human beings (and even with nature), and to fulfill obligations of being a valued contributor to society and humanity…Those that follow the manual seem to me to be more successful and happier in life. Those who do not believe or follow this manual are unhappier and less successful.
  • [For me] the content and structure of the prayer services is spiritually up-lifting.
  • I have always been deeply affected by The Holocaust and I feel it is the responsibility of all Jews to replace the lost population.
  • I love Israel and the concept of a Jewish homeland.

For all these reasons, I want my children and grandchildren to be Jewish in thought and deed. I want them to pick and choose among all the possible good things about Judaism and its people, adapting the beliefs to their own living situations…It’s true that I would like them to be somewhat religious, but I want it to be in a way that is truly meaningful for them.

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Why do YOU choose to be Jewish?

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