Identity, also called sameness of beliefs, can mean many different things. It could be your gender identity, sexual identity, self identity, cultural identity, or religious identity. So today I will talk about religious identity. “What does it mean to be Jewish?”
Is it a person’s ethnicity, a culture or religion — or a mix of the three? After thousands of years of Jewish history, the answer to the question remains complicated. Estimating there to be a total of 5.3 million Jews in the nation, 78 percent of them say being Jewish is part of their religion, while 22 percent said their Jewish identity has no religion.
A Jew is traditionally defined as someone born to a Jewish mother. But there’s disagreement among Jews regarding people with Jewish fathers but not Jewish mothers, atheists and agnostics who were born into Jewish families, and non-Jews who later married Jews and converted.
Here is my personal identity story…
I was born to two Jewish parents, raised in a reform Jewish home, married a Jewish man, and raised three Jewish children. I taught in a Jewish day school, graduated from The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, and also taught religious school for many years. I believe the traditions of the Jewish religion seep into my daily life and I consider my soul to be Jewish.
BUT, I no longer feel a need to be spiritual inside a synagogue with lots of people chanting prayers for GOD to hear me. Being out in nature can be a very powerful feeling! I love walking on a beach, climbing a mountain, falling rain or snow, or seeing a rainbow in the sky.
Producing and sharing my art is the spiritual journey that I am on now. My identity is wrapped up in everything that I create.
What is your identity?