Shabbat Shalom: A Way of Life
By: Jenna Raimist
Young Adult Division (YAD) Manager
This week’s Parashah, Va-et’chanan, covers significant ground. After Moses pleads with G-d to enter Israel with the people and G-d denies him again, he commands the Israelites to follow G-d’s many laws.
Through call backs to the Ten Commandments, Moses orders the people not once, and not twice, but many times, to adhere to the laws given by G-d in an effort to be worthy of the land G-d is giving them. In one interpretation, Moses states, “… follow only the path that the Eternal your G-d has enjoined upon you, so that you may thrive and that it may go well with you, and that you may long endure in the land you are to possess,” (The Torah: A Modern Commentary, 2016.)
The word halachah, or Jewish law, literally translates to “walking.” As we walk G-d’s path, let us remember Moses’ words: “It was not with our ancestors that the Eternal made this covenant, but with us, the living, every one of us who is here today,” (2016.)
As a secular Jewish woman who grew up in the Reform movement, my Jewish identity does not exist due to religious orthodoxy or living Jewishly “by the book,” but it exists as strongly as it does today because of my connections through culture and tradition.
Further, my connection to Judaism might be different than my neighbor’s or colleague’s, just as it is different than my grandparents’ and the generations of Jews before them. This is not a new social phenomenon.
In 1947, the historian Salo W. Baron described Jews as sharing a heritage of a “universalist-ethnic religion.” At the same time, he viewed Judaism as more of a way of life than a system of beliefs and doctrines.
I wholeheartedly believe that what makes Judaism special and attainable today is that our dedication to peoplehood, culture, and tradition is ours to continue, in whatever way is meaningful to us.