Friday, August 10, 2012

On Spirituality

When I said my next post would come on Tuesday, I lied.  Apparently I have a lot to say.

You see, when I first envisioned this blog, I was thinking of it as a place where I would give a play-by-play account of everything I did in Israel.  The problem is,  the more I think about that plan, the more unappealing and unrealistic it seems.  I'm going to be doing entirely too much to blog about every little thing, and anyway, some of it may not be all that interesting to most people.

So I am going to take a different approach:  I am going to post whenever I feel like it, about whatever I want to write about.  And right now, I have two posts percolating through my head.  The first is about spirituality, our topic right here.  The second is on being gay in Jerusalem, and in religious Jewish settings.  Since both posts will go up before I leave, they are mainly about expectations.  I intend to return to both subjects throughout the year.

So, spirituality.  I think it's fair to say that I am not an especially spiritual person, although I do have my moments.  I do religion, of course, but it often feels like it is more about community than anything else.  Nonetheless, spirituality is a major part of why I am going on this trip in the first place.

When I went to Israel for three months in high school, I experienced Judaism in ways that I had never known it before.  Prior to that trip, I mostly knew what you might call suburban Judaism: Dull, monotonous services; an unwillingness to deviate much from the norms of surrounding culture (even where traditional Jewish norms were quite different); and entirely too little excitement.  In Israel I found something different:  Energy.

While I had already decided, before my high school trip, that Jewish observance was an important part of my life, I think it is fair to say that my experiences during those three months sustained that decision.  I am not sure my observance would have lasted without it.  But of course, over time, some of the excitement wore off, and Jewish observance became something that I do because it is comfortable rather than because it is exciting.

All of which, of course, brings us to my soon-to-be-current adventure.  I'm curious as to whether or not I will experience some of those spiritual highs that I encountered on my high school trip; perhaps I'm even a bit hopeful that I will.  Of course, it won't be quite the same; nothing ever is.  But whether it's dancing around like a crazy person on Simchat Torah in Jerusalem, praying at sunrise at Masadah, or  walking the streets of Jerusalem with throngs of others on Yom Kippur, I hope to experience...something.  And I hope it affects how I live my life for years to come.

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