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Jordan Steinberg's thoughts on his Sinai Scholar class with Rabbi Zev

Monday, 20 May, 2019 - 9:54 am

Jordan Steinberg Headshot cropped.jpg

I grew up in a reform household in Dallas. I did not attend a Jewish Day school, and religious school was only enforced in my house when the Cowboys did not have a 12:00pm or 3:00pm game. My family drinks scotch at our Passover Seder, and kosher to me is leaving the shrimp off the bacon cheese burger. This is all not to say Judaism is not important to me. I am extremely proud to be Jewish, but I had realized there were a few commandments I had given myself exceptions on.


All this considered, I would not have viewed myself a prime candidate for Sinai Scholars this spring. Zev did a great job creating an environment where it was ok to challenge and share, but also have a different viewpoint. That said, after the first class, I had noticed two things:


1. The class would be tired of hearing me speak

2. Zev’s thought process


Zev is able to bring a Judaism into every aspect of his life, and every decision he makes, is made with Jewish values and morals as has his compass. I developed immense admiration and respect for the way Zev was able to do this and follow the laws of Judaism so closely. This also induced almost a level of intimidation for some loves bacon wrapped shrimp. This caused me to juxtapose Zev’s practice of Judaism to my own throughout the class. While I did not necessarily think one way of thought was better than the other, I began to question where this positioned me as a Jew. As the class winded on, we explored various topics about Judaism, and this question continued to cross my mind. I would leave some classes finding that I did not completely agree with the “Jewish thought” that had been presented. I continually found myself feeling more or less Jewish depending on the week’s topic, and my point of view compared to the “Jewish point of view”.


By the last class, I began to be more comfortable with the idea that our practice of Judaism doesn’t make a better or worse Jew. Rather, Judaism is something we should be able celebrate and connect with regardless of practice. What is more important, is being intentional and committed to each of our own practices of Judaism, no matter the level. Zev shared a quote the last day of class that summarizes this idea well. Imagine a ladder with 613 rungs on it representing all 613 commandments. If there is a someone on rung 612, and another on rung 2, who is the better Jew? While our initial thought may be that the person who has completed 612 commandments is better than the other who only does 2, but what if the person on rung 2 was on rung 1 yesterday, and the person on rung 612, was on rung 613. It is equally as important to consider where we were yesterday in relation to where we will be tomorrow as where we are today.

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