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Is Judaism a part of you?

Wednesday, 11 February, 2015 - 9:23 pm

Do you do Jewish things or is Judaism a part of who you are?

Am I “Jewish” when I am eating (any kosher food, not just lox and cream cheese on a bagel) or only when I am at shul? Am I “Jewish” when I volunteer at a Jewish organization or even when I give someone who I don’t know a ride home, because they are in need?

Are you part of Judaism or is Judaism a part of you?

To preface; as the Rabbi of a Chabad House for close to 5 years, I have begun doing a listening tour (reply to this email - if you are open to being interviewed). I meet with people for coffee/tea and ask them 40 questions about their perception of Harford County, the Jewish community and Chabad. Recently, I interviewed Stu Needel, the head of the Social Action Committee at HJC-Temple Adas Shalom in Havre de Grace. He shared with me a story of when he was in Java, Indonesia, in a small community top level of temple (Nirvana level). The people there were doing regular, mundane things like smoking, drinking, and people literally lying around. The message Stu took from this was that they felt at home in their temple.

We discussed that in Judaism we should seek more ways to bring Judaism into the ordinary acts of our daily life, and when we are at shul, we should feel at home (as well as make sure others feel at home) while still being respectful to its sanctity.

This is one of the messages of this week’s Torah portion. Immediately following “the Sinai/ten commandments” experience, the Torah shares with us the laws of moral living. Volunteer; help your neighbor, etc. why? Because it too; is the G-dly and Jewish way.

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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