When Alana and I started Because Jewish, one year ago, our mission statement didn't extend past "because" and "Jewish."
We were impatient. We wanted to start bringing people together right away. But now, after a year of talking and listening with you, of working and praying with you, we believe we have distilled a vision that represents what Because Jewish stands for.
We began with what we did not want:
Are you familiar with Civil War re-enactors? Those guys who dress up in uniforms inherited from their great-great-grandfathers and run around the battlefield, reenacting every step taken by people long ago, shooting at each other with blanks, either pretending to fall down dead, or raising their hands in victory?
Far too often, Judaism today looks like that. For too many of us, Judaism can feel like playacting, imitating what our ancestors did. Wearing their garb. Going through their motions. It looks authentic. But it isn’t. Because there are no stakes. No danger of being emotionally or religiously changed.
That’s not what we want. We want to have a real experience. With real heart, real drama, and real risk. And we want to build a community around it.
In the past year, we have begun to glimpse that real, heart-filled, dramatic, risky Judaism together, and we have begun, tentatively but hopefully, building that community.
If you've been stirred by an experience that you've had with us over the past year—or even before that—please, share that experience with someone you care about. Tell them, and ask them to join you, and us, for the High Holidays, starting on October 3rd at Brooklyn Bowl.
What is Because Jewish?
What We Do:
Emotional, intellectual, mind-firing-on-all-cylinders exploration of God and faith and Judaism in this crazy modern world we live in. We explore through ritual, we explore through Bible study, we explore through delta blues, we explore through art, we explore through meditation. We explore through offering ourselves to something greater than ourselves.
We aim to unsettle you. We aim to challenge you. We accept no easy answers.
We build community without justification. We connect not with screens, but with scrolls. We collectively investigate what is most important in our lives. We uncover the joyous and the sacred hidden by our plodding routines. We bring food to the new parents among us. We bring comfort to the grieving among us.
We do all this through Judaism, or hand-in-hand with Judaism, or walking just a little bit ahead of Judaism, but peering over our shoulders, to see if it’s still there behind us, which it always is. Why through Judaism? Because we’re Jews, or we’re married to Jews, or we’re interested in Judaism. Because Jewish.
Who We Are and What We Want
We grew up in orthodox households and evangelical households and hippie neo-Buddhist households. We know what heightened spiritual experience is, but we don’t know where to find it. We get it at concerts, sometimes. We get it through probing conversation, occasionally. We get it through art, when we find the time.
But we want a place where we can connect with others in the vitality and meaning that is Judaism at its very best. A place where we are pushed. A place where we are challenged. A place where we are listened to.
Because we want to be called. We want to try. We want to talk about God, even if we don’t know where God is. We want to meditate in silence. We want to sing at the top of our lungs. We want to come closer to the source. We want to be unsettled. We want to transcend our everyday lives. Together.
To bring Judaism into the now. To make it as moving as music, as uplifting as art, as unsettling as literature, as rich as ritual, as comforting as community, as compelling as good conversation. And to use those art forms, and many others, to make Judaism sudden and powerful for us, right now.