What does it take to be a positive Jewish role model?
- Talk Jewish: Jewish talk is filled with kindness, caring, and concern for the poor, the widow, and the stranger. It involves more kvelling (praising) than kvetching (complaining). Talking Jewish is thoughtful and hopeful.
- Show enthusiasm for learning: As Am haSefer (people of the book), we value the contents of our brains. Jewish role models strive to accumulate wisdom, recognizing that when our minds are open, the world opens up with new possibilities.
- Read Jewish books and see Jewish-themed movies: Fiction or non-fiction, historical or fanciful, the Jewish arts can nurture a deeper Jewish self-awareness.
- Involve yourself in social justice causes: Ever since Moses, Aaron and Miriam stood up to Pharaoh to speak up for the downtrodden, Jews have been in the forefront of every significant social justice cause. Jewish role models get involved because we remember the experience of being at the mercy of others.
- Plan a(nother) trip to Israel: Visiting Israel unites the Jewish past and present. Through the mitzvah (religious deed) of Aliyat haNefesh (spiritual journey of the soul), we seek intellectual, spiritual, and personal transformation.
- Sing along at services: The act of praying is an active experience. Engage your brain, move your lips, open your mind, and you may be inspired. Of course, first you need to go to services!
- Give tzedakah to Jewish organizations: Jews believe that we have been given sufficient resources so that we may give generously to help others. Your investment in Jewish organizations and synagogues ensures that there will be a Jewish future.
- Light Shabbat candles: Once weekly, alone, with family, or with friends enrich or celebrate. You choose your life by marking the holy day. Let the candles adorn your dinner table or light them as you get ready to go out, and then blow them out.
Rabbi Paul Kipnes is the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. He teaches Pastoral Counseling in the Rabbinical School and serves as a member of the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education clinical faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He serves as Rabbinic Dean at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa and chair of the Revenue Enhancement Committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Kipnes co-edited a national CCAR Journal issue on New Visions for Jewish Community. His writings can be viewed on his blog, Or Am I?. He tweets @RabbiKip.
Originally published at Or Am I?