My Jewish Faith 2

I have no special expertise or knowledge on this topic, but I am a person of faith, and I’ve always felt that, given its importance in so many of our lives, it’s a topic doesn’t get talked about enough. So my understanding is that today, we are just going to talk about what our religion or our spirituality means to us and how that connects with our professional and personal roles in life.

I thought I’d start us off under the premise that we should never ask students to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves.  So I identify as Reform Jewish, which is the most liberal branch of Judaism, the others being Conservative and Orthodox, which in turn in split into many factions. Actually,  I’m probably closer to being a Ju-Bu, if you know that term (Jewish-Buddhist) as my husband and I studied Buddhism before we returned to our Jewish roots.

In many ways I am probably not a “good” Jew as there are many observances I don’t follow. But my religion is very important to m;, along with my family, it is one of my main anchors in life.  For example, we are scrupulous about observing shabbat, the sabbath, every week, lighting the candles, saying blessings over wine and bread, calling all our kids and grandkids to share One Good Thing, and singing.  The sabbath is a 24 hour period when you turn over all your burdens to God, and are commanded to be joyful, no matter what is going on in the world or in your life.  It is a time of rest, renewal, and hope.

Many Jewish concepts also guide my life.  Two of the most important are tikkun olam, repair of the world, and tzedakah, or giving.  Tikkun olam has to do with finding and then doing your small piece of the cosmic puzzle to make the world a better, more just place; and tzedakah, to give a hand to others, has been a central part of my life in all its manifestations.

In terms of professional life, obviously I’m not a physician so I can’t speak to that directly.  I will share that believing in Someone or Something beyond myself has gotten me through some very hard times, including the ongoing illness and suffering of my son, who has ankylosing spondylitis, and the deaths of my parents. My faith has given me a larger context, it made me feel that there was Someone or Something that I could lean on, it reminded me that others across generations have faced suffering and felt despair.  My sense of God or the Divine has supported me through many heartbreaking life events and confusing, upsetting work situations, and has provided me with consolation and comfort.