Every day, I try to listen to Jewish podcasts while driving at work. It’s actually harder than it sounds. After a while, you start running out of podcasts. So, I listen to whatever college lectures I can find on Itunes U and hope my podcasts release new stuff before I run out.
Having a conversation with a Thelemite on here makes me realize how much I’ve changed since those days. It was great fun talking back and forth, but I realized how much my interests and outlook have changed since then. It’s really one of those things that creep up on you. First, you stop reading the literature. Next, you sell all your books. Then, one day, you’re like “Wow…so this is me”.
Case in point: When I first came into contact with Judaism, I was blown away by interpretations of the Torah that, as a Gentile, I had no idea even existed. But, the common ground I had with Judaism was my own personal philosophy and Kabbalah. But, the fascination with the Bible and its interpretation slowly began to enhance my own personal philosophy and crowd out the mysticism. To be sure, I’m still interested in Kabbalah, but not nearly as much as I’m interested in learning ALL the Jewish interpretations of the Bible.
So, the main podcasts I listen to these days are actually aish.com‘s Adventures in Urban Judaism and OurJewishCommunity.org‘s Rabbi Robert Barr. They’re actually on opposite ends of the spectrum and that’s something I enjoy immensely. The Aish Center is an Orthodox Jewish community and its podcast deals with traditional Kabbalistic and Orthodox Jewish interpretation. Our Jewish Community is a Humanistic Jewish podcast and its podcasts deal with Jewish ethics and ideas from a modern perspective.
Of course, my own philosophy lies somewhere in between. I feel some ties to tradition, but at the same time, acknowledge that I live in the modern world. So, I’m not turning my lights off for Shabbat, but neither am I getting in some extra time at work. My goal, of course, is to be the best Jew I can be and follow the commandments as I think they apply today and in my life.
I actually think Reform Judaism, along with Conservative Judaism, are the hardest movements in Judaism to belong to today. You can’t disregard the Bible and its teachings. You have to follow the Bible. You have to adapt it to modern life and follow it. Disregarding a commandment because it makes life easier is NOT Reform Judaism. Conscientiously choosing your path and reasoning through the commandments is.
So, today I stand a relatively new Jew on a journey that will fill the rest of my life.