While I was raised Jewish and consider myself a Jew, I do sometimes question if I really should be considering myself a Jew.
For example the whole ‘your mother has to be Jewish’ rule that some people consider. My Mom isn’t Jewish but my Dad was raised Jewish and his mother isn’t Jewish (but converted). Both my parents pretty much gave up on religion growing up, only really celebrating Hanukkah in the house, going to Temple for the high Holidays and Seders held at my grandparents house. I was raised Jewish because my Grandmother on my Mom’s side said she wanted me raised under some sort of religion and my grandparents on my Dad’s side were very active with their Temple. I went to Hebrew school and had a Bar Mitzvah, even though my Torah reading was an English translation because I never fully learned Hebrew due to living with an extreme case of Dyslexia and was in a rebellious phase where I realized I didn’t believe in the religion. Hebrew school was a major source of contention because I was heavily bullied, I was also heavily bullied outside of Hebrew school for being a Jew, so I always figured no matter what, I’m a Jew.
I also attended going to a ‘reform Jewish’ temple. Recently I’ve been calling myself a Cultural Jew. Despite it all, I’ve always felt a connection to God.
Recently I’ve wanted to delve into Jewish identity more, even though it’s been years since I’ve stepped inside a Temple. But still feel troubled about this, because in my Jewish upbringing, I never truly felt accepted by the Jewish community I was around and always felt like an outsider. But everywhere else, I was ‘othered’ for being a Jew and reading about Judaism has always comforted me in my loneliness. I always feel a sense of camaraderie with other people who consider themselves Jews, but like most Jews know and grew up around, I don’t truly believe in the religion but more of a sense of cultural identity. So I thought I’d reach out and ask people’s opinions, if this is truly something I should dive more into.
This stems from some people saying I’m not Jewish because my Moms not Jewish, yet I was raised a Jew, bullied for being a Jew and felt solace is calling myself Jew. Yet also had a frustrating relationship with my Jewish community and have a hard time committing myself to a religion I’m not sure if I totally believe in based on writings that were written thousands of years ago.
Why should I devote time and energy into a group that judges me by the religion my mother grew up in?