The season of one-night stands with Judaism draws nigh.
Next month, countless Jews will go to synagogues for the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) and then take a respite from Judaism until it's time to light Hanukkah candles or enjoy a Passover seder.
Someone: "I went out with your friend Judaism."
Me: "How did it go?"
Someone: "It was kind of awkward. I don’t think I’m going to call him back."
Me: "That’s a shame. Judaism has such a great personality!"
Someone: "Actually I thought he seemed like kind of a downer."
Me: "Really? I think Judaism is so much fun. Where did you guys meet?"
Someone: "At High Holy Days services."
Me: "No wonder!"
While they stress the vital themes of facing our mortality, scrutinizing our deeds and doing teshuvah (repentance), Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services do not give a full or particularly attractive picture of Judaism. You’re not likely to fall in love with Judaism while fasting! I once made the mistake of taking a date to a Holocaust movie and that relationship didn’t survive, either. Judaism has a tremendous amount to teach us about living moral lives, but Judaism is so much more.
Me: "You should definitely go on a few more dates. Let Judaism take you outdoors (Sukkot) or go dancing with Judaism (Simchat Torah) or go to a costume bacchanal (Purim) or have an intellectual discussion (Torah study) or just relax together (Shabbat—every week!)."
Someone: "Hmm. That does sound nice."
Giving Judaism more chances to reveal its sparkling personality would be nice for Judaism and for those of us who have devoted ourselves to it, of course, but I think it’s very likely it would also be good for Someone, too, if Someone is looking for community, comfort, insight or meaning. After all, Judaism is just the many paths worn by the footsteps of millions of ancestors looking for all of these things and, quite often, finding them.
Someone: "I never would have guessed."
Me: "Yeah, you just have to get to know him."
Source: "The Awkward Turtle," by Nesnad (Attribution via Wikimedia Commons).