This picture shows me and two other Reform rabbis – Rabbi Erin Polansky and Rabbi Stephen Wise – going for a canoe this morning. Rabbi Polansky came up with the great idea of calling us a “boat din” – punning on “beit din,” a three-person rabbinic court. I can’t say we made any significant rulings, but it was a wonderful opportunity to explore a river and share ideas.
In the spirit of sharing ideas, I want to use this blog to share the words of one of our campers, who also is a Temple member. Sophia Dolgin’s family recently moved to Montreal and joined our community, and she’s a returning camper at Camp George. She will become bat mitzvah this coming year. We led a program today for her camp cohort, Kochavim (“stars”), focused on the theme of Jewish identity. Some of the kids told their stories through photography; some through art; some through cartoons; and some through creative writing. Sophia was in the last group, with whom I had the pleasure of working. She has given me permission to share her take on Jewish identity with you. Her thoughtfulness makes me proud to be her rabbi. Here are her words about what being Jewish means to her:
Knowing all the words to a prayer you don’t know the meaning of, going to summer camp where people complain about all the Jewish parts. Walking down the streets of the Plateau, Montreal, in the dead of winter and see the Jewish families with funny hats.
For me, being Jewish is answering ridiculous questions about the religion in the year, then the most general questions about what my Jewish identity means to me in the summer. My answers vary from, there are more than just the intense Jews, to I don’t really know.
I’m proud to be part of a community and in a way being part of a minority can make me feel nice. But it has always been the little things that really make me feel Jewish, like my family trying to remember all the words to the shabbat prayers before biking out to get ice cream, then trying to hunt down the lactaid pills. For me being Jewish isn’t believing in God or keeping kosher, it’s looking out for people, and answering those questions like what makes me Jewish.