A little over five months ago, I blogged about my decision to read the Tanakh in one year…and then promptly didn’t blog about it again because I didn’t want to admit that I’d fallen off the wagon much more quickly than I climbed onto it. I had to choose between improving my Hebrew so I could learn to chant Torah and reading Tanakh… because as much as I hate to admit it, Shabbat is the only day a week that I can shut off the world and dedicate myself to prayer, reflection, and relaxation.
But I am telling you now because somewhere between the World of Warcraft marathons and the sleeping in and the floodplains of depression, I ended up doing neither one. I withdrew from the face of God with the same shame with which I withdrew from the world in the darkest days of winter, where the cold that chilled me to my bones had nothing to do with the temperature outside… and everything to do with the fear of rising anti-Semitism around the world and the way it fueled the fire of self-hatred that I thought I had finally extinguished.
It turns out that fire only needs the slightest spark to rise again, and the World is always happy to provide you with sparks.
Yet somehow in the midst of these not-so-positive feelings for myself, I have continued to feel immense pride in my Judaism. Even when I have not liked myself very much, I have been able to proudly declare myself Jewish and to speak about my love for my faith. I have seen that truly God is at the center of everything and my faith is a pillar upon whose strength I can lean–a pillar upon which I can rest my head and find peace. I have spent a lot of time judging myself by the standards set by others, whether the ruler I measured with was engraved with my words or someone else’s, and have find myself lacking in every way except the one that I now understand is fundamental: a daughter of Torah, of mitzvot, of the book.
Today, as I thought about how far I have come and how twisted the road with depression has become, I have renewed my commitment to continue growing in my Judaism–but not on a schedule. Instead of saying that I will set aside time for Judaism, and then inevitably failing, I will work to weave Judaism into the time I have every day, into the things that I already do.
After all, I live in the World and I must live by the heart of Torah, so I will carry Torah with me.
And I will continue being, as I promised before my beit din, an ambassador of Judaism–Jewish in all the ways that matter, in my own way as well as in the ways that my people have shared over the past 5775 years.
I may not know who Eliava is a woman yet, or what she is to do with her life–but I know that Eliava is Jewish.