It’s Friday night at 7 pm and I’m in the back of a room as big as a football field trying to find my father. The room has about 5000 people and 7 screens that are each so big that they seem overwhelming individually, and together they seem insane. On the stage there is a Rabbi and a cantor and a choir with a dozens of people from dozens of states and a few countries. There were graphics on the screens and words in Hebrew and words in English and pictures of temples and camps where people prayed in much smaller numbers then 5000, but still in communities. Still together.

I have a complicated and continuously evolving relationship with prayer, and this week, working at the largest conference on Jewish life in the world, I got a chance to reflect a little on the things I love about my religion and the things I don’t hold quite as dear. I feel like religion is so often painted in strict black and white. You believe or don’t. You feel an intense connection of there’s nothing there. I hate how conversations about faith leave so little room for grey, because for me, that’s where everything interesting about religion lives.

There’s a quote, I heard somewhere, and have since heard a few dozen times more, about how when you put three Jews in a room, you’ll come out with four opinions. I love that need to question and that need to debate at that need to discuss and analyze and not know and to know that you don’t know, but keep going and believing anyhow.

My religion has given me a community to feel a part of and a history to feel proud of. It has given me adventures and experiences and people who mentor me and those I can help grow. It has given me answers and questions, and the ability to feel a little less uncomfortable with the unknown. It has given me homes and purpose. Tradition and pride.

I’m growing and learning still. My religion shapes itself in new ways every day, and truthfully, I’m grateful for that fluid movement. I don’t live a life that’s stagnant, so I don’t need a faith that can’t move with me. I’m doing more and being more and experiencing more. My faith evolves to encompass that.

I’m not saying I have all the answers. I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just saying that not knowing seems like a silly reason to toss thousands of years of history and culture that my people have fought and died to keep alive by the wayside.  I’m happy in my middle. I don’t need a definitive answer on God to know that having a moral code is something that helps me be better and do better.

So I guess this is 500 words on how I’m comfortable not having answers. 500 words on how my faith is important to me, even if others don’t understand it. 500 words on how my faith is important to me even if I don’t understand it.

And that’s fine. That’s good even. That just leaves more room to grow.

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