Home vs. Home
So first off let me lay this on the line so we’re all being honest with each other. I’ve worn a kippah for about 3 year. I’ve kept Shabbat for 1.5 years. I’ve davened at least once a week for 8 months. I’ve kept heksher kosher for a few weeks.
Okay. So, now that you know I am Conservative Jew...or am I. I mean let’s be real. I could be described at Conservative, Traditional Egalitarian, Dati, Dati Lomi, Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Conservadox and soooo much more. The reality is that in this day and age we each have about three different understandings about who we are as Jews at any giving moment.
This past year, in September, I had the absolute honor and pleasure of going to Israel for seven months. During this time I realized a maybe simple part of Israeli society. Which is: If you don't wear a kippah you’re secular and if you do you're minimally what Americans would call, minimally, Orthodox. However, in the Diaspora or at least America, if you don’t wear a kippah you’re Christian and if you do, you’re Jewish.
In America, you’re then put in a box if you're Jewish. Everywhere I walk I get looks and judgments and in speech I can hear people changing their way of speech when they notice I’m Jewish. As I’m sure you're thinking, this doesn’t really give the opportunity for your local Jew who is still exploring their Judaism to do anything besides jump right in.
Another point of difference is that, to the vast majority of America, any and every kippah just means “this person is Jewish,” not Orthodox or Haredi, but Jewish. And in Israel it goes like, “it depends on the kind of kippah.” If I wear a back velvet kippah I could be considered yeshivish, and if I wear a kippah sruga (small knitted) I can be considered Dati or some modern mix of that and traditional egalitarianism.
Jewish is not the same Jewish everywhere. Walking through Yeshiva in Gush Etzion during Shabbat I see a much different kind of Judaism than in Congregation Shirat Hayem in MA, which uses musical instruments during Shacharit on Shabbat.
I know. I know. I’ve bounced around a lot in this article so lets bring it to its core: Home vs. Home. The fact is that Israel is home for all Jews. But, for many of us, so is a plot of land in the diaspora. They’re both home and although they have an unquantifiable amount of differences when all is said and done we’re Jewish no matter where we go.