Most of my Jewish life revolves around my family, and in particular, my kids. I put a lot of energy and thought into creating ritual experiences that work for them. And I’ve pretty much left it at that. As with most parenting decisions, if it works for them, it works for me.

When I was single, and exploring my relationship to observant Judaism, the practices that were most compelling to me were learning, and participating in a vibrant, independent minyan. Now, with  a five year old and a seven year old, and a full time teaching job, and some vague aspirations to write another book….someday….(oh yeah, and blog to keep up), I never, ever sit down with a chevruta, or even alone, to really learn. LimmudNY last year was a glorious exception to the rule, but a not-so-glorious stomach virus sent me home two days early. And as for meaningful, communal davening? More like, tot shabbat and family minyan. If that.
I think we parents make a huge mistake when our Jewish lives are completely focused on our children’s experiences. Becoming a parent might be a great reason to start keeping kosher, or celebrating shabbat, or going to synagogue, but it can’t be the only reason. Otherwise, what exactly are we teaching our children? That Judaism is just for children? And what are we teaching ourselves? What will our own Jewish lives look like as our children outgrow tot shabbat, family minyan, and, you know, our homes?
So, I’ve been looking for ways to work on my own adult Jewish self. I’ve been experimenting with increasing my own shabbat observance, without asking for any changes on the part of my kids. It’s nice. Very nice. But it hasn’t felt like enough. Maybe because it falls short of the way I used to be, when I was “really” shomeret shabbat. But it also feels as far as I can go, in this town, and this interfaith family.
Where else to go? I think I’ve known the answer for a long time. But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure I was allowed. I wasn’t sure I knew how. I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Then, after eight years of deliberation, a recent opportunity to write a guest post for the Mayyim Hayyim blog led to some encouragement from readers I’ve never even met (thank you!). Which led me to make a call to the Chabad rebbetzin. Which led me to make an appointment to go to the mikveh. Tonight. For the first time since my wedding.
I realize that going to the mikveh is not something typically publicized. It’s a private matter, between a woman, her partner, and the mikveh lady. (Unless the mikveh lady has left the building, that is.) But, I guess I’m realizing that this blog is the closest thing I have to a vibrant, independent minyan. We may never daven together, or dine together, but most of my serious adult conversations about Judaism take place here. So forgive me if I seem un-tznius, Really, I just need someone to talk to.
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