Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Reform Jew tries out being frum for a week

For the past week, my alarm has gone off every morning at seven—the click of the radio calling me to another day of altered consciousness. I have risen and washed my hands, recited b’rachot, and—covering my elbows, knees, collar bones—snuck out of the sleepy silence of my bedroom into the briskness of an autumn dawn.

For seven days, I have davened (worshiped) shacharit, mincha, and maariv. I have categorized my food, separating meat and dairy, and offered thanks after meals. Most of all, I have kept close watch on myself, pausing to take the pulse of my religious identity, as I’ve tried, for a week only, to experience a different way of being a Jew.

Having been raised in a committed Reform household, I’ve long known that being a Reform Jew allows me a great deal of personal autonomy in Jewish practice. But…with freedom comes the responsibility of choice. To fulfill myself in a Reform context, I don’t need to observe every commandment, but I do need to know the answer to a very important question: Why? Why do I choose to observe one ritual or commandment and not another? [....]

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