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At first glance, it probably looks like I couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to be when I finally became a serious faith practitioner. I’d grown up in a nearly secular Jewish home, where my parents had little connection to Judaism and made a half-hearted effort to expose me to my roots. I don’t think they had the religious understanding to do more than send me to Hebrew school and Saturday school. I also chose to go to Israel in my junior year to study at Tel Aviv University. I was mainly curious, realizing how little I knew about my heritage or the state of Israel.
Still, my background didn’t stay with me very well; I married a non-Jew, for one. Although in my twenties I experimented in creating my own Jewish practice, I could never figure out how to do so in a meaningful and helpful way. So, I just stopped practicing.
Then I came across Zen Buddhism, which has little doctrine and few demands. Its main focus was on meditation, and although it didn’t include G-d, it did not exclude believing in G-d. I liked a great deal about Zen. Its tenets were practical; it provided extensive one-week meditation retreats (meditating 6-8 hours per day). The irony of practicing Zen is that although it didn’t address G-d, my meditation practice deepened my relationship with G-d. After practicing Zen for 20 years, my belief in G-d was more grounded than ever.
But Zen was not where I was to finally land. In fact, it seemed that, in spite of my intensive involvement with Zen, in a sense, I felt it had kicked me out. I had a falling out with my teacher. I couldn’t find a community in Florida where I felt I could practice. And then it became more and more obvious that Zen had become politicized as a Leftist organization. I saw that coming and for years tried to ignore the obvious, but I couldn’t deny it any longer.
And then you could say, when I left Zen, G-d showed up.
He showed up primarily in the form of friends—Ricochet friends. Those friends not only encouraged me without pressure to re-explore my roots, but showed no judgment toward my uncertainty, floundering, and questions. They shared resources for me to explore and people with whom I could connect. They invited me into their homes to meet their families, to spend sacred time, in a loving, caring environment. I have two Torah study partners and was invited to co-author articles and books (@iwe, I’m looking at you!)
And although I have my life struggles, I know I am never alone.
I know that I’ve found my home.Published in