Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
When I was a kid, for many summers, I would spearhead a carnival in my front yard to benefit the Muscular Dystophy Association. I have a friend who has this disease. I vividly and happily remember the porch stage we set with sheets for the play, the balloons blown for popping, the swimming pool duck pluck and the little tickets we made and collected. I also remember standing in the middle of my town‘s main street with a smile and a can collecting change for Jerry’s Kids and enjoyed being a counselor at the MD camp for many summers. I did not know one Jewish person until I went to college. I had noticed then, that Jews were very kind, very confident and funny. And I adored every one I met. So, when I met my husband Josh and married him, I knew I wanted to be Jewish, I knew it felt right for me, but I never really knew why, until I met the Mitzvah and the Tzedakah. I realized then that even if I didn’t have the history of the suffering of the Jews in my DNA or all the hoildays quite figured out yet. I did know about Mitzvah’s, I had started them early in my life and enjoyed every moment of the giving. And what I thought was especially amazing was I didn’t have to wait for some afterlife to feel the happiness or joy associated with it. That an anonymos act of giving or kindness in this life was a Jewish tradition I could call my own. A reward that had no fear attached to it. The mitzvah to me, is what religion is all about. Now, I can’t quite remember which holiday is a Kugel holiday and I don’t get the yiddish words right at all. But I can organize a fundraiser and make sandwiches for the homeless. And I do make a pretty tasty latke. And I want to be a Jew because my family is Jewish. Because I love the traditions and the sybolism and two zoo zim, of course. And because the tradition of Tzedakah is so powerful, I can’t think of a better way to teach my kids about caring and giving of oneselves and putting the other guy first, every day. I love the belief that all earthly possessions belong to God and that one's worth is measured in mitzvot, not in material goods. I realized why I liked every Jew I met. Because they had Tzedakah in their homes and in their hearts from the beginning. They had a Josh and a Mose and a Mathilda and an Opa to help foster peace in the world and I am happy and honored to become one of them. Shabbat Shalom.