We are so delighted to welcome Rebekah S to our community. Rebekah has legally changed her name in English and has chosen Rivka as her Hebrew name, as she embraces her identity as a member of the Jewish people. She shares her reasons for choosing Humanistic Judaism.
Humanistic Judaism is the best option for me because I believe in compassion, human reason, ethics, honesty, integrity, equality, social justice, and philosophy as the basis of morality and decision-making. Humanistic Judaism reflects my belief in what it means to be Jewish in a way that allows for inclusivity and embracing Jewish cultural identity.
Although I hadn’t realized it until several years ago, I found that I had been following the morals and ethics of Humanistic Judaism without knowing what to call it. I was born into a family with Christian and Jewish beliefs. However, when I became a teenager, I refused to go to the Christian church since I felt I no longer believed in what they were teaching. As the years went by, I learned about different religions and studied more about Judaism while also learning Hebrew. I had even legally changed my name to “Rebekah”, which I chose from the Torah.
Shortly thereafter, I got married to my Air Force husband and moved from place-to-place. One of our stations was in Italy and it was there that I attended synagogue and learned a great deal more about Jewish history and culture. I also learned more about my personal family history as it related to Jewish ancestry and culture. There was a professor I had throughout my years attending a university who was Jewish and who would tell me how I seemed Jewish in manner and thought so when I told her that I was, she said, “I knew it!”. It appears that everyone else could see these aspects of me but myself—or perhaps I had ignored them until I was ready to realize it for myself. Yet, I was hesitant to fully convert due to the exclusivity and requirements of the more orthodox or conservative beliefs that I had been exposed to.
After Italy, we moved to Japan and there I would also attend a reform synagogue occasionally and celebrate the high holidays. It wasn’t until I learned more about Humanistic Judaism while living stateside during the pandemic that I began to realize that I had held the same beliefs possibly all my life. I find myself connected with the Jewish community and have found spiritual satisfaction in celebrating the holidays, study, discussion on Judaism, and social justice. The belief in tikkun olam as it relates to Humanistic Judaism is one that I endeavor to fulfil every day. By adopting Humanistic Judaism, I hope to show my identification with Jewish culture, ethical values, and community not just for myself but also for all of humanity.