I have had a deep seeded faith in G-d my entire life. I was raised Catholic, until I was nine years old, when my mother got ‘saved‘ in a little assembly of G-d church, and moved me to a new denomination. I always felt that the ritualism of the Catholic church suited me more than the loud chaos of the ASG and Pentecostal churches we were a part of there after. I always felt like a square peg in a round hole.
When I was in the fifth grade, I ‘went’ with a young boy named Michael. He was tall, and funny, and different from the other boys. He introduced me to Judaism. I found that they had rituals too, and I fell hard for the religion, not the boy. As an adult, I went back to Catholicism for a while, taking comfort, once again, in the familiar actions, but I was always drawn to people who were Jewish, but told it was not for me, because I was a little Catholic girl.
Over the years I have had the honor of meeting and becoming friends with some of the most fascinating people; a wide variety of ethnicity and faith. I have friends who do not believe in G-d, some who believe in many, and pretty much anything in-between. The only one that has continually intrigued me has been Judaism. Much like my need to understand European culture, especially French, I have spent time talking with friends about it; questioning, and gleaning all the information I could. Never quite understanding why I felt so connected to these people and their faith. I have even joked, on occasion, that I was meant to be a Jewish Princess, because I was definitely meant to be royalty…turns out, I was not so wrong.
I have mentioned before that I was adopted. I have met my biological mother, but she has been of absolutely no use to me in the genealogy department. That isn’t a slam against her or anything, it is just the truth. I mean even her ‘maiden’ name wasn’t actually her real maiden name – it was her stepfather’s, so we really do not know much about her, past her mother. As for my father, well, let’s just say he will forever be a mystery because she either does not remember or does not want to remember. Regardless, I have received no valuable information there, either.
So, me being me, and having a deep desire to know where I came from, had my DNA tested. I am European – no shock really to anyone who knows me. When I color my hair red, you would expect me to sound like I came straight from Ireland. Having this testing done answered questions that I knew to be true, deep in my heart. I’m English, Irish, German, French, and a few others…but the thing I read while looking at the information where they traced my maternal genealogy showed there was something in our blood line, up until a few generations ago. My mother’s family had Ashkenazi Jewish. Apparently, I have some 3rd or 4th cousins who still do.
There it was…the puzzle piece that clicked into place. Prior to this experience, there have been three places in my life where I have walked off a plane and felt like I was home, where something just ‘clicked’. France, England, and Ireland. It is not something I can explain, if you have never experienced it. Fortunately, Jason experienced it too, when we went to Ireland. Now, I knew why that was, these places are part of where I’m from. Seeing that I have a family history with Judaism, that gave me a peace that I also cannot explain. However, when I’ve mentioned it to a couple of my Jewish friends, they got it, and they were not at all shocked. They’ve heard my questions, they’ve seen my thirst for information. It just made sense.
What does this mean? I’m not sure that it will change any aspect of my life. I’m over fifty, and not sure I could learn anything new at this point. Not to mention that there isn’t a huge Jewish community in my area, in the middle of Kentucky I’m finding vegans easier than Jewish people, and that hasn’t been easy either. However, the validation feels amazing. I’m sure there will be more conversations with my friends, and maybe I will start following the Sabbath more consistently. Who knows? I am just happy to have figured out that missing piece.