a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

How Jewish is Your Home?

Posted on: August 3, 2012

We’re currently planning a house warming party complete with a Chanukat Ha’Bayit to be performed by a friend and awesome¬† rabbi. In talking last night we pondered the ethics of performing any sort of religious ceremony in a home that isn’t owned by us. Our landlord is not Jewish so is it unethical to make our home “Jewish” when he’s not? We’re already planning on doing a sage smudging to cleanse the house and I’m getting my Evil Eyes ready to put up right afterwards to “protect” the house before the official ceremony, but is it all just a bunch of mumbo jumbo?

Let’s remember that before venturing back to Christianity, before converting to Judaism that I was a full-fledged pagan. A pentagram-wearing, incense burning, tree-hugging, aura reading,¬† patchouli oil smelling, herb planting, goddess card reading, crystal holding while meditating Wiccan. I found comfort in the connection between human beings and earth and found Judaism’s unaltered reverence for its agricultural and lunar roots comforting. Wearing a chai or Magen David or hamsa around my neck is as much about it feeling like a talisman as it is about being proud of my Jewish identity. It’s because of this that I find Jewish superstition and customs so fascinating and strangely familiar. We reasoned that the Chanukat Ha’Bayit, or Home Blessing/Dedication, would be for our apartment not the entire home-as we wouldn’t be placing a mezuzah in any other areas of the property but our own.

Last March I wrote a post about hanging mezuzahs (mezuzot?) and we’re here again. I’m working on a post for Jewcy about mezuzahs so I won’t go into too much detail here. That said, it’s always a set of questions-how many do we need? If a room has two entrances do I need two? What about the hallway-it’s larger enough and fits the regular criteria. What’s the point of doing all of this “stuff”anyway? Is it because it carries a significant and holy meaning or obligation, or is it simply to show pride in our Judaism and to make our home Jewish?

Stay tuned.



3 Responses to "How Jewish is Your Home?"

Well, I guess I don’t know what Jewish superstition and evil eyes have to do with having a “Jewish” home. Am I superstitious? Not at all. I wear a Hamsa but it’s not for actual protection. I have mezuzot on most doorways now (though they keep falling off!!) but again, not for any kind of protection.

My home is Jewish because Jew lives in it. It was part of our city’s Jewish community many, many years ago so there is a good chance I’m not the first Jew to live here. We own our home. I would however, treat it just the same if we did not. I put up muzozot because it’s Jewish tradition and I want Judaism to always be normal in my home. I want to (hopefully one day!) raise children in an environment where being Jewish and doing Jewish things is totally normal. It’s a little bit of a pride thing too, I think. I also made my own mezuzot covers so I got to be a part of the ritual in a deeper way. I put myself into it and that gave it more meaning. It’s almost like meditation, I would say.

I agree-I tend not to be a superstitious person. Interestingly, I had a conversation with a Jew by birth about mezuzot and she was really disappointed to learn that they don’t “bless” or protect a home and a little miffed that it was an obligation.

The Evil Eye thing has always been interesting to me-I always associated them with Turkish/Middle Eastern culture, but also love the Jewish ideas.

How lovely that you made your own mezuzot covers! I wish I was that crafty, but sadly I lack any and all artistic ability!

Oh, it’s very easy to make your own covers. My Rabbi who happens to be a trained artist (she got a Master’s in art before going to Rabbinical school) suggested I use Model Magic. It’s the fluffy clay made by Crayola. It’s easy to use and doesn’t even need baked. I pressed button leaves into mine to make them nature themed. Add shimmery paint and you’re done! I want to make some with polymer clay but I haven’t gotten around to it.

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