Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A Pintele Yid
My parents weren't very into Judaism while I was growing up. Because of the Holocaust, because of seeing things during the war that they felt were incompatible with the existence of any God, none of that was part of the Jewishness I grew up with. Food was, Yiddish was, and, of course, the Holocaust was. As a matter of fact, instead of my parents picking between Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism and Orthodox Judaism, they simply made up their own denomination: Holocaust Judaism. Our worship consisted mainly of repeating over and over again all of the horrors our parents lived through during the war, until we all ran shrieking from the house into the arms of non-Jewish spouses.
But I had a longing for more. I had a pintele yid - a little Jewish spark inside me.
In 1989, I got divorced from my first husband. There were a lot of reasons for this but they can be boiled down to the most important one: I was dying inside my marriage. That's all. My pintele yid reared its head hopefully. Could the little Jew come out again? I didn't know anyone in the Jewish community, I hadn't been to a synagogue in years - I'd been hiding in fact, believing I didn't belong. But I also believed one thing absolutely: if I had to start all over again I was going to get exactly the life I wanted.
This past Sunday was the Israel Independence Day Fair in Phoenix. Husband and I went and walked among all the tables and booths and I saw what my pintele yid and I had built in the twenty-one years since my divorce, and in the seventeen years since my second marriage.
I wasn't alone anymore; that little Jew inside of me has nothing to hanker for. My synagogue, my Rabbi, my kids' Preschool teachers, their Jewish Day School teachers and staff, their camp, my chavurah friends, the moms and dads I've met, the charities with which we've been involved, and so much more. A rich life. A life that at one time eluded me. From Holocaust Judaism back to Judaism, one step at a time.
The life I dreamed of the day I watched my ex-husband drive away, his car loaded with his belongings.
Did you ever have to start over? After a move, in college, as an adult? Did you ever have to start with nothing but your belief in a different life?