What’s the Jewish Choice?

I love getting coffee with freshmen.  They have a certain perspective that makes me think a little harder about the work I do and the hopes I have for the future of our GW Jewish community.

I had coffee with J. this week, post-Hurricane Sandy / Parents Weekend and pre-Thanksgiving / Winter Break.  We talked a lot about family, particularly about her brother who also is having his own college experience elsewhere in the country.  We wove our way through stories of her parents and how they related to their parents.  Three generations of family, each making their own Jewish choices.  J.’s stories of her commitment to Jewish life in contrast to her brother’s choices to not engage with his Jewish identity reminded me of a similar conversation with Y. a few weeks back; Y. no longer keeps kosher, even though her parents do.

When students tell me that they (or their siblings, peers, etc.) DON’T do something anymore, I think they half-expect my scorn.  Instead, I’m always amazed by the consciousness brought to these choices.  Is there a part of me that’s sad when college students don’t feel connected to Judaism enough to reflect it in their practice?  Absolutely.  But there is an equally strong part of me that celebrates CONSCIOUS DECISIONS, when a student really grapples with how they do or do not want to walk in their Jewish shoes.  This is ultimately, the beautiful history we inherit as Jews; we grapple and wonder, we think about our past and how it reflects into our future.

What choices do you make that can be considered Jewish ones?  How can you re-frame your thinking to consider embracing your Jewish identity, even when your choices may reflect a lessening practice?

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