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The Eternal Jew

by Anonymous

  

Library » Jewish Identity » Who/What is a Jew? | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The following letter was sent to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, some seventeen years ago.

Exactly ten years ago, I met my soulmate. Without going into great detail about our religious backgrounds, I will simply tell you that I was raised a Protestant and later joined Catholicism, and that my partner in life was raised agnostic but was born Jewish. Each of us had undergone great trials in our personal lives and had each sought G-d in our own way. For two years, we lived together in relative happiness, but after a while we realized that we had to find a religious community that would accept us and in which we could find spiritual fulfillment.

Our search took us to many places of worship in many different communities and different cities. I could not renounce Christianity. Susan could not embrace it. Neither of us were happy. The journey was arduous and painful, we quarreled and we cried.

Finally, Susan insisted that she loved me enough and that she was willing to embrace Christianity and make it her own.

That first Christmas, there was no celebration of Chanukah. No gifts, no lights and no cards even to her family. The second Christmas was no different. The third Christmas was the same. On Thanksgiving day, we were walking on 65th Street all the way to the end of the West Side. We found ourselves in front of Lincoln Square Synagogue, and suddenly Susan wanted to go inside. For no reason at all, she insisted we go inside. It was a fateful step for her, for us. We walked into a small hall where there was a lecture in progress. I remember vividly a woman named Blu Greenberg who spoke about traditional values, and then another woman, Bronya Shaffer, who spoke about the quest for a holy life in a wonderful material world. She was a follower of yours, and she changed the course of our lives.

Susan and I spoke with Mrs. Shaffer for a long time, mostly asking questions about the spiritual avenues open for Jewish women. I had never met as compassionate and caring a person as Mrs. Shaffer, and in a very short time we were openly and honestly telling her about our love and our plans for the future, including someday getting married in a church. Mrs. Shaffer acknowledged my religion with respect, and even acknowledged Sue’s desire to convert, but she insisted on one thing. She told Susan that if she were seriously contemplating such a drastic change in her life, it would have to be done in honesty, as a Jew. Light a candle for the Sabbath, she told Susan. Do it just once. It’s what Jewish women do. And then do it again. And then keep doing it until it’s comfortable and you know that it’s a part of you. Then, you can think about changing yourself. Because, right now, you’re not even comfortable with the “you” that you know. It’s from a darkness that you are making a change. But life’s changes should always take place in the light of day, not in darkness, because light is knowledge. So create your light, then think about your changes in that lightness.


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Chanukah
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
Mezuzah
A rolled up scroll containing certain verses from the Torah which is affixed to the right-hand doorpost of doorways in a Jewish home.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.