Being religious from afar

Ever since my Bar Mitzvah eight years ago, I have slowly drifted away from my religion. In my mind, a person’s Bar Mitzvah is the pinnacle of the Jewish religion; it is what you have worked toward during the many years of Hebrew school, after that, there was nothing worthwhile. I took classes at my temple known as the “Hebrew High School.” It was not anything special; I always looked at it as a waste of time, another reason for my parents to get me out of the house for a few hours so I wouldn’t be playing video games. By 11th grade, I was done with all Jewish schooling, my sister had her Bat Mitzvah, and my family was as disconnected as ever from our temple. At this point in my life I had more important things to worry about, college for instance. Then I went to college.

We still got off for the high holy days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but only occasionally would I go home. In the Jewish faith, you celebrate Yom Kippur by fasting from sundown to sundown. However, if I was at school during the holiday, then I did not fast. During the week of Passover (which we do not get off school for) you are not supposed to eat chametz (foods that are leavened), but I never followed this at school either. This year, however, was different; I was actually able to go home for Passover (because it fell on Good Friday). I was actually able to have both Passover dinners with my family; I was able to connect with my religion once again. But it is incredibly tough to connect with a religion that is barely recognized by my school. Chanukah may not be an important holiday in terms of the Jewish religion; however, I rarely get to celebrate that holiday at home either. In this upcoming year, Chanukah starts at the end of November, so it will be over before I even have a chance to go home. I was only able to go home for Passover this year because it just so happened to coincide with Easter. Having the Chabad on campus certainly helps during these difficult times, but it does not compare to being home for the holidays.

I am not blaming Oswego State for my current disconnect with my faith, but they certainly are not doing anything to help restore it. Lately, I have realized more and more that I want to be able to find my faith and love for Judaism once again. I want to watch my children at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah’s just like my parents watched me and my sister. I want my children to have something to believe in like I did as a child. I want my children to be able to proudly say that they celebrate Chanukah and not Christmas. I want to bring this faith back into my life and I want to make sure that I never lose it again. Your religion is a part of your identity; you must make sure that you always hold on to it, especially when it seems so incredibly far away.

One thought on “Being religious from afar

  1. Dear Ben,

    I am incredibly sad to read your article. As secretary of the Oswego Chabad Club, and a fellow jewish student, I spend a whole lot of my spare time empowering the jewish students of SUNY Oswego to learn more about their faith and participate in jewish things. I would like to invite you to Shabbat dinner. We have one every week at 5:30, 56 Franklin Ave, a few houses down from Snygg. I would be honored if you would join us.

    Judith Halpern

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