The common year is two-thousand twelve, though it’s less commonly known as 5773 according to an ancient agricultural lunisolar mapping of the universe still used by some.
This year, the common year, showed no sign that I was - am - Jewish.
I used not a single candle in celebration. I built no sukkah. Dipped no apple in symbolic rivers of honey. Searched out no chametz. Spent no oil in remembrance, no day in fast, let alone in a Synagogue.
It was not with intention, but rather indifference. My life has been blessedly filled with occupation. I sincerely love my work and my life outside of it. I eat well, love incredibly and have a freaking adorable kitten. With the many goods, there is of course a balance. All that time allots for limited moments of reflection.
But the other day, oddly enough on the quasi-religious holiday of Christmas, I had time. And I felt it. I felt a loss.
There’s been pangs passing by each holiday where I see my connection to a big picture idea of culture slipping away. For the past year I’ve watched, acknowledging the loss, noting it passing by.
That’s when it struck me.
Most believe you’re born a this or a that, but a year of distance between me and my past makes me focus on the more experiential fraction of the equation. A religion - even if just focused upon as a culture as I will - is a practice.
I don’t call myself a musician or a cook. Quite similarly to the dusty guitar in my apartment or the unused pans in my kitchen, its only through practice that I obtain that accompanying sense of identity that these tools can offer me.
I have not practiced being Jewish, thus I do not feel it.
The profound moment in my end-of-year calm, the one that has me writing again, is that I care to keep the skill. Not because I have to, not because I fear a god’s or parent’s wrath, but because I wish it.
And there’s something profoundly liberating about identity reclaimed.