Jewish Journal

Jewish Enough

by Ilana Angel

September 27, 2012 | 11:37 am

The high holidays this year marked my first Jewish holiday experience with the Englishman.  It was a little stressful for me because I have a clear view of who I am in terms of my faith, but how he rolled though the festivities was unknown to me.  He is Jewish of course, but were our levels of Judaism going to mesh through the most important days of our faith?

Religion is a tricky subject, and even though I only date Jewish men, it has still proven to be somewhat complicated throughout my romantic history.  I have dated men who thought I was not Jewish enough, and others who felt I was simply too religious.  I always thought it would be easier if I was with a Jew, but it turns out that is not always how it works.

My last boyfriend could recite Torah and I thought it was the sexiest thing in the world.  My boyfriend before that would listen to me read Torah, and it was the sexiest thing in the world.  The Englishman cannot recite Torah, does not want to listen to me reading Torah, and he is the sexiest thing in the world.  We are very different Jews, and it is okay.

As I sat in temple on Yom Kippur with the Englishman, his youngest daughter, and my son, I felt Jewish enough.  In the past I have strived to be more Jewish, or dumbed it down to be less Jewish, but with the Englishman, I am simply Jewish.   I don’t need to explain myself, I just need to be myself.  He does not judge how I practice my faith, he just let’s me be.

We are very different in terms of our faith.  In fact, we could not be further apart in terms of our relationships with religion and God, but at the core of who we are, we are Jewish.  For the first time in all of my romantic relationship life, being Jewish is enough.  I was trying to figure out what it all means and in the end I think this is what love is.

I over think my relationship.  I love him and know he loves me, but I wonder if love is enough.  There are things in our relationship that are not perfect, but is that not true of all relationships?  One could argue the things I think are not perfect are being blown out of proportion in order for me to sabotage it all.  Or perhaps, it is just a real relationship.

It gives me tremendous comfort to have reached this place of enlightenment at services.  The Rabbi asked us to turn to someone in temple and tell them about someone that had passed away and was important to us, in order to keep their memory alive.  I started to cry and turned to my son to share how much my Dad loved him, and how proud he would be of all he is doing.

We had a lovely moment remembering my dad.  I then turned to my Englishman and heard him speak of his beloved step-mom Sheila to his little girl.  He then turned to me and told me that Sheila and my Dad were watching over us and probably had a hand in our finding each other.  I felt true love for this man, and knew my Dad would have loved him too.

My father was an Englishman, and these two men share the same sense of humor.  I find I lean on my Englishman in the same way I used to lean on my father. He is a calm voice of reason and I know he has my back and will always protect me.  Not only me, but my son also.  They are very close and it is something special.  They love each other.

We are building a life together and it is scary, weird, uncomfortable, exciting, and lovely.   I often try to define what kind of Jew I am, but he makes me feel Jewish enough.  By Jewish enough, of course I mean simply Jewish. Our faith is the same and how we worship, while not exactly the same, is Jewish.   Could this be what it is to find your Beshert?

If I can be the woman I am in front of God, in front of him, is that a soul mate?  If I can worship without fear of judgment or criticism, is that love? If I can feel safe in my faith and open to seeing a different view, does that make God happy?  I had a wonderful holiday and I learned a lot.  It turns out being Jewish enough is the easiest way to keep the faith.



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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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