When I first left the very insular and stifling world of Ultra Orthodox Judaism, I was in two very different mindsets. On one side, there was a big part of me that wanted absolutely nothing to do with Yiddishkeit at all. I would make a salami sandwich with cheese. I’d turn the television on over shabbos and have almost a superior reaction to the act itself. It was almost as if I was sticking up my middle finger in the face of Yiddishkeit. It had wronged me.
Then there was the other side. I was coaxed into joining an egalitarian shul. I got tingles up and down my spine when my name was called (as the daughter of my mother) for an aliyah. Tears streamed down my face when I sang the brucha, in a melody I’d heard my father, then brothers, sing. Why had I not grown up with this Yiddishkeit, this joy in being part of a loving kehillo?
And still, I’m between two worlds. Realizing that the lessons I teach my daughter aren’t infused with thoughts of Hashem or of punishment for not following halocha. I have to be both creative and repressed in the way that I parent, and I find myself more and more wanting to infuse it with just a bit more spirituality. A bit more Yiddishkeit.
I don’t want my children ever to feel like they need to stick a middle finger up to Yiddishkeit. At the same time, how can I be authentic in my approach and spirituality without being a total hypocrite?
I just don’t know. I find myself sometimes longing of the days of black and white, where women are only paired in name with their mothers if they’re sick, and where parenting is more about Hashem than a creative skill set of equal parts understanding and discipline.
I’m struggling. And I don’t know which derech, path or highway makes sense anymore.