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Trying to educate myself

Shalom lekoulam ! Hannukah Sameah !

I don’t really know where to begin, so I’ll just go:

I am jewish, both my parents are jewish, of polish- and hungarian ashkenazi descent. I am currently living in Paris, FR. Even though we all strongly *feel* jewish – as a people, an ethnicity, a common history… and so forth – neither side of my family is religious.

My parents had a Ketubah/married in a synagogue, I had a bris when I was 8 days old, went to Talmud Torah as a kid, had my Bar Mitsva at 13, and that is pretty much it: I don’t do Shabbos, I don’t keep kosher, I go to the Shul once a year for Yom Kippur (and, as a matter of fact, mainly because I particularly enjoy Kol Nidrei and Avinu Malkeinu), and, to be brutally honest, as of right now, that suits me well. I do not seek (again – as of right now) to become more religious, I feel my jewishness in every fiber, every atom of my being, and am very happy about the place I allocate to religion in my life right now.

My paternal grandfather, who survived through the war mostly in Germany, was born and raised in a Hassidic environment. He knew the whole Tanakh by the time he was 5, he officiated for the synagogue in his hometown, etc. Like many others, he stopped being religious after the war, but he never stopped loving the Torah and its learnings with all his might. He did his best to transmit his love to my father, and always went by his motto: “I want you to know enough Torah, enough prayers, enough Judaism, so that you are never lost of confused in a Shul”. (I know, what an ambitious man was he…)

Anyways, the reason I am explaining all this is that I had my Bar Mitsva ten years ago, I went to my last Talmud Torah lesson around that time, and, basically, except for very, very basic knowledge, I don’t really remember much.
I read the Torah a few month ago – and was pleasantly surprised to see I actually remembered most of it – but I feel like I don’t know enough, I don’t feel like I – dare I say it… – *belong* in a synagogue, because I feel like I’m the putz in the middle, the Lost Man who does not understand a thing about what’s going on… Except for the Shema Yisroel, and the first few lines of the Vayeshev parasha, which I learned for my Bar Mitsva.

I think more and more about the motto of my grandfather, I think about my children as well – when I’ll have any – and realise I want to transmit more to them than just a Jewish last name, I want to transmit more than just the knowledge of their ethnicity, but also its understanding, I want them to be able, whatever their religious level, never to be lost in a synagogue themselves, never to feel the absolute dysphoric sentiment of being lost in what you consider your culture, your people…

So, to summarise a long message – thanks for reading me – I wanted to know your tips, tricks, sources and ways to become more at ease with Talmud Torah, what books to read, what courses to take… Anything is profitable, whether it be books by famous commenters, or YouTube channels, any piece of knowledge.

Before you ask, I am planning to discuss with a Rav, to seek Talmud Torah lessons for adults, etc… But I want to “prepare” myself, to do whatever I can on my own before I go and ask for help to more educated people than me.

Thank you so much for reading me, I am open to ANY piece of advice, recommendation, information.

TL;DR: How to get better at Judaism for Dummies, anyone ? Help me get educated !

OBLIGATORY: As I’ve said multiple times, I’m French, English is my second language, I probably made a lot of syntax errors and some sentences may sound strange, be indulgent please ! Toda raba 🙂
(PS: I read/speak English, French, and some German, so if you have any recommandations in one of those three languages, please enlighten me !)

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