היום ארבעה עשר יום שהם שני שבועות לעומר
Today is fourteen days, which is two weeks of the omer
A day of majesty in a week of strength
My soul's ties to Judaism has two main threads that converge and join with modern influences to inform my practice and, in many ways, my life.
I definitely feel the call of the ancient. I can't remember a time when I couldn't read Hebrew or say the Shema--it was just a natural progression. On my road back to Jewish practice, as I chanted Torah and participated in Shabbat and weekday prayers along the way, the flow of the Hebrew language made a deep connection. And as I delve deeper and deeper into text study of the ancient scriptures, I also find a connection to those people, my people, my tribe. And from that tie also comes a link to the Middle East--a tie that, quite frankly, can bring pain right now. But as a Jew I do feel a tie to the culture of that region, with roots in the same ancient times as so many others.
In my mind, there's little doubt where my tribe ended up when forced out into the wider world. My ancestors did not go south, for I am Ashkenazic to the core--no DNA test necessary :) With Romanian on mom's side, there might be some gypsy influence, but the Galitziana in me from the Sniatyners on my dad's side is strong. Ken looks at family photos taken around 100 years ago, points at a little girl and says, "that could be you."
When it comes to the importance of Jewish ritual in my life--many rituals which stem from the Ashkenazic line--the tie gets complicated by my gender. For years I identified with the yeshiva buchers--boys. I wasn't happy with the identification, but it was the closest I could get. But as I've learned more Jewish history during the years, I have now found my place in those early years. I was in the women's section of the synagogue, leading them in prayer, sharing the Torah parsha with them.
Now, my identity as a New York Jew in San Francisco....well, that's the topic for another post :)