Loooong post, because I’m just gonna ramble, and it won’t be everything. But feel free to ask about anything I say.
I’m not religious, had never even read the Bible before or anything, but I’ve found myself just incredibly connected with Judaism and Jewish culture, like, I’m just fascinated! and I have been in this limbo of both wondering why and just wanting to know more, for over a year now. I would say it’s been closer to two years.
I’ve read (and watched) so, so much about Judaism. And yet there’s always so, so much more, it feels endless, and I always have like this feeling of “yes! there’s moreeee!!!”. I even got started on learning Hebrew a little bit to understand. (But I realized it’s very hard, having basically no similarities to the other langauges I know, so I wanna leave that for way later.) I honestly don’t really talk about it to anybody, even to the Jewish people in my life, because I fear that my excitement about it will be seen as weird. I’ve only opened up a little. Like a trickle, but not really opened the floodgates to anyone before this post.
I’ve been learning a lot of Jewish history (they definitely don’t teach you this stuff unless you look for it, and I’m very interested in history in general, so this is all just extremely fascinating to me and makes a lot of things make sense), reading the Tanakh (I have a lot of questions I’ve actually been writing down, I think I would be the bane of a Rabbi just asking a million questions), and learning about holidays and general Jewish culture (though I will say most of what I find online focuses very much on Ashkenazim, not that there’s an issue with that of course, I just want to also know about other Jewish peoples. History helps with that a bit, but not as far as knowledge of current customs and culture goes, so I’d welcome resources on that if anyone has any.) I have not gone at all into the Talmud because I looked it up and started trying to read just out of curiosity and I immediately felt like a 5-year-old trying to make sense of a doctorate disseration. (but I honestly kinda fantasize about one day being able to understand this stuff. I’m probably the only guy who fantasizes about talking for hours with a rabbi I haven’t met, about things I haven’t even read yet. I totally get ahead of myself/where I’m at, out of excitement.)
I also follow a lot of Jewish writers and creators, because I just love the way they think, especially with the context of Judaism as my understanding grows. And it’s just so cool to see that there are people who grew up on this and speak from that perspective, it just makes me feel joy. Jewish music too.
I’ve read the 613 mitzvot, and I have many, many questions, but I also think I should leave those for a Rabbi. When… I… eventually reach out… eventually. I didn’t write those down though but I probably should. It’s odd how so many of them are basically copies of things already on the list though.
Also, a lot of my friends are Jewish. In fact, my best friend/roommate is Jewish as well, but they’re not religious. Their parents are from Israel, so sometimes they play hebrew-language music in the car and I love it. We also have a mezuzah at the door, which makes me very happy, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to kiss it if I’m not Jewish, so I kinda just make it a point to look at it, acknowledge it, every time I come in at least. It feels the most respectful.
I didn’t grow up surrounded by Jewish people or anything, so my interest wasn’t really initially sparked there/by other people, necessarily. It actually started because I got told many times by other people that I look Jewish after I moved to the US, LOL. Me and my brother both. They’ve said my brother looks “like the son of a Rabbi”. We’re Latinos, but it was entirely possible we could be part Jewish, because there is a Jewish community where we’re from, so that was actually one of the factors that led my parents to do DNA testing (mostly, we wanted to know exactly what kinda mix we are, turns out we’re mostly native south american, african, and iberian to no one’s surprise)… but we did find out my mom is 1.1% Ashkenazi. And I honestly care SO MUCH about that little number.
I should clarify my intention is NOT to claim ancestry, especially with such a low percentage, but to express that I’m overjoyed even at the possibility of it! I actually thought if anything showed up it’d be sefardi, so I was very surprised. The thought that many, many generations ago there was someone Jewish that I’m descended from just makes me so happy. That means they had a Jewish family too, a family that’s technically my family. I wish I could talk to them, know what their lives were like.
I wish I had a confirmation, not just an idea as I do, about WHY I’ve been so consistently fascinated and just basically independently studying Judaism; like, I’ve read about the Jewish neshama, and I feel that very strongly, but at the same time I don’t feel like it’s my place to determine that. What keeps me from going to a Rabbi is that I fear that my enthusiasm might be too much, or that I’ll ask too many things. I think maybe I should start with my roommate and ask if they’d be comfortable with taking me to the local synagogue.
I feel it’s also become much more complicated to approach now because of the war. It’s a very, very painful time right now. I don’t want to make it about me at all, or get in the way. I feel that pain — it’s a time of grief. I don’t really know what to do.
(Heart’s racing posting this. I don’t know what to expect.)