Today is the Jewish holiday of Tu B'av - the day of love. On the Jewish calendar, this lesser-known holiday falls on the 15th day of Av, and is sort of comparable to Valentine's Day. Traditionally, unmarried women would go out dressed all in white and dance in the vineyards. They dressed in white so as to not stand out from each other. Young men were supposed to see them not for their wealth (or lack of it) and not for their outward appearance, but for their complete and overall virtues. Bangitout.com was even holding a White Party in honor of Tu B'av, but was postponed until Monday due to the torrential downpours we had today in New York. In LA, JconnectLA hosted Love Fest to celebrate Tu B'av with music, a book signing and, of course, food.
These are the things I really love about Judaism and Jewish culture/traditions/feelings. I never knew anything about Tu B'av before today, but now that I've been discovering more about my Jewish heritage, I'm finding more and more aspects I like and agree with - who knew? I don't think I'll ever be super-religious, nor do I really want to be, but I don't think that's necessary in order to be connected to the Jewish community. I've been reading a ton of Jewish blogs, and have registered to attend the live webcast of the First International Jewish Bloggers Convention. I feel more connected than ever, but find myself wanting so much more. I don't necessarily feel like I want to go to temple but I want to know about these Jewish holidays, I want to learn Hebrew, I want to know the stories of my ancestors. It's hard, dare-I-say impossible, to go from a very, very reform Jew to a Jewish expert overnight, so I guess I need to take things one step at a time. Reading Jewish blogs such as Jewlicious and Jspot and Jewesses With Attitude are the first step I think. I've been trying to find Hebrew classes to take, but the local community colleges don't have night classes, and local adult education programs don't have Hebrew as a language choice. But that is definitely my next project - maybe I'll buy those Rosetta Stone tapes (mental note: look up Rosetta Stone tomorrow).
Eventually, I'd like to take Bat Mitzvah lessons and finally have my Bat Mitzvah. I think that will definitely help me feel more connected to Judaism and the Jewish community, but I want to wait until I have the time to commit to something like that.
You don't have to be religious to be Jewish. That is the main thing I'm coming to realize. I have always felt less Jewish because I was not religious, but now I don't feel that way at all. Maybe people will disagree, but to me, being Jewish is more about a sense of community, a common background, a common history, a shared upbringing, and less about religious beliefs. I know I feel strongly about these common threads among Jews, and have always enjoyed and cherished the Jewish traditions, values and feelings my parents always taught us. And I don't have to go to temple or be a religious person to feel that way. But I do have to learn more, everyday, in order to pass these traditions and values on and to keep the Jewish-American community alive. I am Jewish, hear me roar!!
4 hours ago