I chose strength. I chose to be one of the chosen people.

What about that Jewish thing?

I’m Jewish. I have a religion. I was born into one. I’ve always been proud to be Jewish, but organized religion is complicated for me.

My parents are “born again Jews.” That’s the only way I can explain it. They went from reform to modern Orthadox in a blink of an eye. From synagogue to “Shul.” And if you know my mom, she just expects you to hop on board too. Her thing has to be your thing. But over the years she has respected my reservations. It is less of a “thing” between us now.

I really have no issue with her becoming more religious if I saw happiness. I don’t mean to upset anyone. But I am a bystander. I bear witness. I see. I’m not going through cancer. I am only the witness.

But I feel.

Since my parents have become more religious, I’ve seen nothing but heartache for them. And the community is not my cup of tea. They all seem so self interested. They all want meetings. They need funding. They want. They want. They want all of my mom and my dad. They all feel like blood suckers. They sucked my parents dry. Too dry for me. They don’t have anything left to give, especially their time.

I miss my parents. I miss their old friends. I miss their old community. Maybe that’s normal. Maybe we just love our childhood experiences and change is seen as the enemy. 

I guess… I just can’t relate. 

My mother is in another time. I can’t understand her and I really can’t understand my dad who just shuffles along for the ride. 

Their life is the shul and it feels limited. Like Benno.

Out of balance like Benno.

On the fringe of the edges. Overdosed on religion/ anxiety. 

And I fear the fringe. I fear it. 

Look at what the fringes of religion has done?! It is the source of the pinnacle of achievements to the disasters of mankind.

Building pyramids and toppling buildings. 

Releasing comfort/prayer and poisonous gases.

Dancing in unison in festive garb and fighting alone with bombs as your inner wardrobe.

So many lives taken in the name of religion. It’s hard for me to just accept.

But I need to ritual. 

The first night in Brooklyn I sat with Steve and we looked out. It was quite the view. It was gorgeous. I couldn’t deny that. Beautiful.

Turns out even from hell, you get glimpses of heaven.

From our vantage point we see a world of lights reaching towards the unknown. Reaching for greatness. New York City. We see the Brooklyn bridge. It is breath-taking. I taught the Brooklyn bridge to first graders for a few years. I know its enginnering marvels and its sad ending. A man devoting his life to building a suspension bridge and dying just before it came to be. Oh how he would marvel that it is still standing 150 years later. In all its glory.

You can also see the statue of liberty.

Steve is at peace when we sit and look at the city.

Steve: “Isn’t it amazing. Think about all those years ago. All those people. Our ancestors. And look what they built (pointing to the skyline of New York). The Jews are strong incredible people. Strong people.”

And he is so right. 

Look at the Jews. Look at what they have done. Look what they have built and look what they have suffered.

If anyone is STRONG it’s the Jews.

I am Jewish. Steve is Jewish. AND Jacob is Jewish.

Jacob will live. Jacob will fight just like all of his ancestors. He can because he is Jewish.

And I swear on my life, this is not a joke, 5 hasidic Jews walked by the boat. Right then. Right then!!! Steve and I hopped off the flybridge in unison and ran to them on the dock. We have zero shame. You will soon see this yourself. I have made some deals with God…I will need your help. I have no shame. I will ask.

But back to the 5 hasidics walked into a bar. One was wearing a talis, one was wearing…sorry! I digress. I couldn’t help myself. It sounds like a bad joke, but seriously there they were. In the middle of the night. No one else in sight. Five Jews walking next to our boat.

“Wait! Wait! Wait!” I yelled. 

And they stopped. 

I asked them if they were going to pray. They were headed to the water and it was late at night and it looked like a minyan. 

They looked at me like I was an idiot. 

“Uh…No we were not.” 

What a stereotype huh? ! I just assumed they were going to pray. How much I have to learn. They had the whole Orthodox vibe on and I just assumed they must be going to pray, but in reality they were going to smoke a joint.

My kind of Jews.

I tell them that we are Jewish. Like it’s a secret club or something. And we tell these strangers our plight. We tell them about our Jacob. They asked for his Hebrew name and mine. In the Jewish religion you pray with “Yakov ben Channa.” Jacob (Yakov)  son of Abby (Channa). And they said they would pray every night for him. And I believe them. I hope over a joint. 

The Jews are strong. The Jews can beat anything in their path.

Jacob is Jewish.

He is one of the CHOSEN people. He is one of the stats. We Jews beat all odds. Heck, we are still here!

I chose to live on the fringe. I choose to walk to the edge. I chose the pinnacle of achievements, of marvels, of miracles. Maybe I’m on my parents time now. Maybe we can walk together.

I will take the strength from the Jews. That is what I’m doing now, I’m building my rituals. 

From Judaism, I choose strength. 

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