Hello. I live in the U.K., am a woman in my 30s, and am not sure exactly how to word this.
My father is halachically Jewish, my mother is not. My father is such a staunch atheist that I can’t even describe myself as slightly culturally Jewish; he has rejected every tradition he was raised with including the secular ones for reasons of his own I don’t understand, and that he will not talk about. My dad’s parents, grandparents and brother are/were observant which I was very aware of and interested by as a child but also knew my dad disapproved of and was entirely barred from participating in myself.
I am aware that my Jewish heritage ended with my father and that I am neither culturally nor halachically Jewish. In recent months I have learned more about my dad’s side of the family (through my mother, because my dad will not discuss it), who fled from Poland to the U.K. in the mid-1930s and adopted anglicised names. My dad thought he was simply descended from British Jews until my great aunt died a few years ago and he learned otherwise from her letters. Much of my family history is just lost, though, and I’m not sure how much of that is a result of cultural circumstance and how much is that my dad will not really talk about anything he considers religious-adjacent.
I increasingly feel like I want to understand more of my Jewish heritage (though I don’t even know if I can call it that or if it counts as mine). I do not know how to proceed with this in a respectful way at all, since as far as I can tell by every denominational metric I have no claim to Judaism.
I should say that I am not even considering conversion at this time — I don’t feel I know enough to even think about it, and I currently consider myself completely agnostic. I have read the sidebar here and am still unsure how to proceed. I don’t know if it’s okay or appropriate to reach out to a community if I’m not realistically considering converting any time soon, and I don’t think I know exactly who I would speak to anyway, or how (especially in the age of social distancing). I’m not really even sure why I feel so drawn to know more. I feel both like I’m really longing to be less cut off from my heritage and like it’s not really my heritage at all.
I guess I am asking how (and if) you would recommend I proceed from here. I have been trying to hold off on bothering anyone Jewish with this since I’m sure it seems really trivial but I feel very lost and sad about my cultural disconnection from my dad’s side of the family, and also unsure if this is an urge I should even be following ethically speaking.
Thank you, if you made it this far – please ignore if this all just reads as utter rubbish.