Stepping Back from Judaism

I am feeling more and more everyday that a jewish identity and a pagan identity are incompatible. As much as I love the idea of being a Jewitch, I worry that it is too much to have to fight for. I can’t find much of a community for those Jewitches, online or otherwise. Most resources online are really outdated– one blog dedicated to jewitchery hasn’t been updated since 2013. that’s twelve years of silence! Most people who define themselves as Jewitches are Jewish born women who follow a pagan path, but still culturally define themselves as Jews. They don’t participate in most (any?) Jewish practices, but because being a Jew is as much about ethnic identity as it is about religion, they are still considered Jews. Once a Jew, always a Jew– maybe a bad Jew, maybe a heretic, but still a Jew. 

But I was not born Jewish. I would be a convert, and that really changes the story. Even though I would not be worshiping multiple gods (I’m not a polytheist), I’m pretty sure most Jewish communities would not accept my conversion if I kept up my current practices (praying to a feminine aspect of the Divine, celebrating the changing of the seasons through the Sabbats, and all that jazz). I would only be able to convert if I either stopped practicing in that way, or if I did so in secret. I’m not willing to do that. I can hide parts of myself from others, but I can’t hide myself from the Divine, that knows every messy, contradictory, paradoxical part of me. And I don’t want to be part of a spiritual community if I am not free to practice as Spirit moves me to– and I don’t want to force any community to deal with something that makes them uncomfortable.  If I don’t fit in with Judaism, it’s not Judaism’s job to make space for me in this instance. It’s up to me to find my safe space.

Although it saddens me to do so, I will be taking a step back from Judaism. As much as I want to take the next step to conversion, I don’t think I should. It’s not the right time. Right now I think that my place is to be a gentile and ally. I’m not sure that I am ready to be a member of the tribe. Perhaps I never will be. But I will still join my Jewish friends in celebration (ain’t no party like a Passover Seder party, am I right?) and participate in the parts of Jewish life that I am welcomed in. I’m still keeping my hanukkiyah and Shabbat candles! Maybe one day in the future I will make the decision to convert, but for now I’m taking a step back and trying to be okay with it.

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