BlogElul Day 8: Believe

This post is part of the #blogelul project started by the inimitable Ima On (and off) the Bima. I am using it as my motivation to rejuvenate this site and get myself back into the swing of things.


“Ani Ma’amin” – I believe with perfect faith…

Several years ago , I was part of a weekly Shabbat program teaching Jewish topics to families. I’d meet with the kids first (I had 5th grade) and teach a concept. Then later bring several families would come together and we’d go over the same content, but with all the members of the family able to share what they had learned in their respective sessions.

One week, I pulled out the God card.

“So tell me,” I said. “Who is God to you? Is He Jimminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder? The ‘dear diary’ you talk to at night as you review the day? The big Police Cop in the Sky? The please-don’t-mess-up-what-I-have-going?”

The discussion with the kids was loud, active, and passionate. There were lots of opinions and feelings and ideas. The input gave me plenty of chances to pull in the Jewish view of God and help the kids frame and further develop their God-concept.

When we added adults to the mix, I was looking forward to hearing more layered and nuanced ideas. I was eager to here the more analytical voices.

What I got was crickets. Nothing. A silence that spread like the fog that represented the Angel of Death in “The Ten Commandments”.

As the silent seconds ticked by I became certain I had asked the Dumbest Jewish Question On Earth. After all, this was a self-selected group of families, who chose to take their Saturdays to learn together rather than go the traditional Sunday School route. Asking about their internal sense of the Divine had to be the most juvenile use of ti…

“This question makes me extremely uncomfortable.” one woman stammered out. “I’ve never thought about God at all. Especially not like that.”

There were immediate nods from the other adult heads around the room.

It took me a few moments to recover from that. And several more to re-build the lesson plan in my head.

I never did a follow-up to that session. I never had the courage to broach the subject again. But I was given a powerful example of how important it is to at least know where we stand with regard to religion and our understanding God.

This year – as I have for several years now – I pray that anyone in a similar situation take the time – just a few moments – and consider before Whom they are standing.

I hope they take a moment to consider what, exactly, it is that they believe.