I still intend on writing about the Jewish people of the Hill Country but that is still in the research process. I wanted to write about the everyday application of Jewish values in everyday life. I want to share some brief background on Jewish values as I have learned from my studies and home synagogue. And share a few things about my step-daughter Keya and her perspective on Judaism and spiritual matters.
Judaism has evolved over the course of over 5,000 years. It has adapted as Jews have dealt with ever changing conditions in life; Diaspora, living in different countries – adaptations. The Judaism I am familiar with is democratic – the rabbi is of course, the respected teacher and leader but he is also compelled to encourage exploration of ideas and thought. Rabbi Jeff, back in Iowa City, used to say that if our congregation did something three times it was then considered tradition. It was refreshing to me to begin walking a path in which intellectualism was considered essential and asking questions wasn’t deemed as sinful.
So here in the Hill Country, my new home, we have an interesting life – my life with my fiancé Ric and his daughter Keya. I am sure most of you know him from his gallery in Blanco and his breathtaking Native American artwork. In this day and age, people are trying to find reasons to be away from home. To us, home is the place to be, not to run from. We enjoy our creative home, our “things” mesh well together – Jewish ritual objects with Native American sacredness. It works. And Keya has become my daughter; I didn’t give birth to her, but she’s my girl. We share a lot, talk, and laugh. And as it happens with children, she asks questions. She asked one time what the difference was between Judaism and Native American ways, Dakota in particular. When we got down to the very basics, there really wasn’t much of a difference that could be reported.
Keya hasn’t been indoctrinated to be intolerant. She hasn’t been taught to see one way as the “only” way. For some people, that is a fearful thing. Some folks are incredibly rigid about “truth”. Through Keya’s eyes, I’m remembering the sweet value of forgiveness, the natural strength that comes with asking questions and that it’s ok to not have all the answers.
Sometimes she wears my Star of David earrings, she ate matzos with me during Passover, and she wants to attend a service at a synagogue sometime. She wants to see the world, she wants to learn things. She is the future, she is the continuity of the Jewish story, and she is the strength of Native Americans. She is a wonderful little girl with so much inside of her. She has taught me to see my religious practice differently as well as that of others.