I'll be quick here because I'm on my way to a family brunch, but I just wanted to post some really quick thoughts that I had last night when I attended a talk called "Eatin in Eden: Judaism and Vegetarianism" last night at the Calgary Jewish Community Centre as part of a series called "Just Jew It" (funny, no?)....
I have spent a lot more time in Christian churches than the average Jew has, and I think I discovered something more that draws me to Jews and Judaism last night. And it's something more thought-through than just feeling like this is a place that I (at least kind of) belong. Last night, the speaker was Rabbi Michael Skobac, from an American organization called "Jews for Judaism". I'd like to post some of my thoughts about the content of his talk (like all the other talks that I've skipped over but still would like to share thoughts about, like 3-month-old thoughts about TEDxCalgary... but that's another story). Aside from loving the fact that the crowd had to be shushed a million times and that multiple conversations go on between small groups of people and all the other, more superficial observations, I feel like in Judaism you are kind of enough, if that makes sense. I feel like you should try and be the best you you can be (and not think that you are inherently a sinner) and when you bring your best version of you to the proverbial (or actual, I guess) table, you will be enough to take on Tikkun Olam (which is repairing the world). For instance, the Rabbi said that he didn't want to tell us what to think, just give us some points for consideration. I remember hearing the message (whether these were the words or not) that certain things are dangerous roads to go down. And I feel like that is someone else ("Christianity", or my own head, or something) telling me what and how to think. I feel like so many roles are like a shepherd and his or her sheep, which is such a control-based relationship. I've never felt that way from a Rabbi, which is probably a function of my very limited experiences with Rabbis, but I think they tend to provide points for consideration rather than rules or guidelines or... boundaries.
I realize that this sounds rather weird, particularly because Jews are the "people of the law" and they really do follow so many rules in a literal sense than Christians do, but I feel like those rules are suggestions for how to be a better you. If you don't follow all of the kosher rules, I don't feel like there's a lot of judgment. Certainly this is not everyone's experience of Judaism, and mine is so limited it isn't fair to say, but that's just how I felt about it.
Finally, I don't mean to say that Jews are good and Christians are bad or that Jews are better or whatever, it's just the basis for comparison that I have. I always enjoyed being part of my old church and the people were so nice and welcoming.
Hopefully more details to come later. Just had to say that I really enjoyed myself.