Judaism Loud and Proud

4 years ago Leighest 0

“What’s with the kippah?” “Are you frum now?” If I had a penny…

These are just some of the questions I have been asked in the past year, as I have taken steps to further connect with Judaism. Through my experiences with becoming more expressive of my love of Judaism and actually practicing it, I have been faced with many questions, big and small. But the one that has stuck out the most is the one I want to talk about today. “So, Ben…have you been brainwashed?”

Throughout my life, I was taught that I needed to follow the bare necessities of Judaism—bris, bar mitzvah, that sort of thing. I assumed that the height of my Jewish education would stop somewhere after the age of thirteen. Then, over time, and through  joining CTeen, I learned about achieving and gaining a deeper Jewish perspective. My believe in G-d and in a higher purpose began to blossom—I began to take on more mitzvot and learn more Torah. This was received by those around me in various ways, one of which was to convince me that I had been brainwashed by Judaism. It wasn’t long before I believed it myself.

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We have all been given the G-d given right to have free will within this world this means that we have the choices to make but it doesn’t always mean we make the correct ones. The choices I have made within my life have been exactly those kinds of  “choices.” Religion is a choice and something that I’ve learned to love and practice with time.

 

Here’s what I’ve learned about the way we approach Judaism and religion—We’ve been taught to believe that there are things that are right and wrong. We throw around words and labels that are used to explain who we are and how we live our lives. Just because you choose to extend yourself and do an extra mitzvah doesn’t mean you have to go around giving yourself a label why should it even have to be that way. Why use the labels of “frum” “religious”? Why can’t we express ourselves as“Jews”? After all, what are we if not Jews first? And if we do label ourselves, it causes a form of separation between the two types of people.  The Jewish people are one body, one mind, one soul,  and we must be connected all together to function as a whole.

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In conclusion, I want to share something with every teen who is thinking of extending themselves or has done so already. You should never be afraid to express yourself within your Judaism. Moving forward and upward with taking on new mitzvot and becoming more observant takes up. Remember that not everyone will understand it at first. Remember to never limit yourself, never put yourself down and never give up. Remember that you have the strongest ally on your side: G-d almighty (and the CTeen family!).