a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Judaism-Religion or Spiritual Connection to Gd?

Posted on: July 13, 2012

Shabbat Shalom, readers! As I write this, it’s actually only Tuesday-but I’m trying to be good about posting so I’ve been writing some small posts to schedule while I’m stuffing my face with treif in Maine. Yay Lobster!

About a week ago this picture from Shabbat.com came across my Facebook feed. It spoke to me personally so I shared it. The conversation that resulted was really interesting and I’m curious to know what feelings this photo brings up for you.

For me, Judaism is less of a religion and more of a spiritual connection to Gd. Perhaps that makes me a bit of a mystic, or it’s the last lingering wisps of my Baptist upbringing, but it’s how I relate to Judaism. Religion conjures images of holy people in special robes, a large institution full rules-what you can and cannot do and people who claim to be more learned/holy/spiritual than me enforcing the rules. It’s people who get in the way of my personal connection to Gd. One of the reasons I sought out Judaism was that it allowed me to speak directly to Gd, rather than through Jesus or a priest or preacher, even if I don’t have proof that Gd is listening.

So what do you think? What thoughts/feelings does this image evoke?

2 Responses to "Judaism-Religion or Spiritual Connection to Gd?"

I tend to see things in a similar way, but I still use the word religion due to its etymological roots to the word “connect” or “bind.” I think it’s unfortunate that religion has, in the public imagination, become synonymous with institutions and structures.

That said, I tend to have a similar view. My purpose is to bring God awareness, God consciousness more fully into my life. I want to be drunk on God. I want to be ravished by God. I want to be utterly consumed by God. This tends to be difficult for me since progressive Judaism tends to eschew this mystical, ecstatic approach while more conservative Judaism seems to have no room for my gay, Black, woman self. So, in a weird sort of way, the institutions and the rules restrain me from both sides.

Judaism is not a homogenous religion, and embraces a number of streams and views. Today, Rabbinic Judaism is the most numerous stream, and holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period;^,`-

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