I am a wandering Jew, currently rooted in Brooklyn, NY. Unaffiliated, more assimilated than I would like to believe, yet, very connected to my confused identity as a Jew. Even more confusing, I find myself in the middle of an Orthodox neighborhood, surrounded by synagogues, yet, without a sanctuary for my secular and spiritual soul.
So what’s a nice Jewish girl to do when she wants to explore what it means to be Jewish and secure her own sense of Jewish identity? Go to the former center of Jewish life – go to Eastern Europe.
It may sound counter-intuitive to take a conversational journey around Jewish identity to communities where six million (Jews) were killed during the Holocaust, and, where those who survived and remained were assimilated into communism. A little naive, or perhaps overly optimistic to seek answers ‘here’ where ‘ghosts’ outnumber the living. Yet, realizing communities existed, albeit small ones, I had faith members of these communities knew. Knew what it meant to be a Jew. Knew because they had made a choice, a decision to be Jewish.
A month of conversations in Berlin, Warsaw, Vilna, Krakow, Budapest, and Zagreb, left me wide-eyed and awakened to Judaism’s pull as communities there grow. I heard and recorded stories of miraculous survival, and survival of interest in Judaism, overcoming fear from history’s horrors during the last eighty plus years. Yet, the more I learn, the less I realize I know as answers raise even more questions.
Questions I hope to share and ask through Jewrnalism. I hope to learn with and from bloggers, from readers, from those of you who are exploring and living your definition of Jewish identity.
Tell me what you think: what does it mean for YOU to be Jewish?
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