Rosh Hashanah

Spent today celebrating Rosh Hashanah with the family. Like many Jews I know, I’m all about the traditional side of being Jewish—the gatherings; the history; the bond. And yet, to be honest, I spend most of these holidays questioning everything about myself and my religion.

To be blunt: Why am I Jewish? Is it because I was born a Jew, or is there truly a connection? How can I call myself Jewish when I believe, oh, three percent of what I hear in synagogue? Why—when there are millions of homeless across the world—do so many religious institutions (like the one I visited today) hold their meetings in lavish, expensive, over-the-top structures? Shouldn’t that money have gone to people in need? Couldn’t a congregation simply meet in, say, a Cosco warehouse? How can we Jews stand so strongly for Israel, yet so many drive these enormous, gas-guzzling monster trucks that—cha-ching—result in billions of oil dollars going to nations that wish to destroy the Jewish homeland?

Mainly, I guess I wonder whether I attend services because I hear some sort of spiritual calling, or if it’s just plain ol’ guilt? I mean, I certainly don’t believe that, if there’s a God, he listens to prayers from a synagogue or church and not from a living room. I certainly don’t believe rabbis or priests or ministers are any closer to God than John McEnroe, Walter Mondale or Mike Tyson (well, maybe Tyson). I certainly don’t believe in the literal tellings of Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, the burning bush, etc. So, again, what am I doing? And why, come day’s end, can’t I stop?

PS: Lately my 5-year-old daughter has been semi-obsessed with death, and it’s pretty awkward. My wife handles it well, because she doesn’t consume herself with humanity’s inevitable personal demise. Yet death freaks me out—and I don’t want my girl to pick that up. Anyhow, just thought I’d share …