The value of Judaism
I wish to commend The CJN for calling attention to the rising cost of Jewish living (“When Jewish life becomes a debt sentence,” Dec. 29). Sheri Shefa’s holistic approach, which connected the price of housing to that of schools, shuls, and kosher food, was an important frame to an issue that is often approached piecemeal.
Yet there was something missing. The article did not explain why we pay this price. What is the value of Jewish life?
Oscar Wilde famously said, “A cynic knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” We must discuss affordability. However, we must not do so as cynics.
A word that appeared repeatedly in the article was “obligation.” If we see Judaism only as an obligation, we will not pay this “price.” If we see Judaism as a compelling life narrative, as a treasure that most enriches our life, then we can overcome this challenge. How does Judaism enrich our lives? Think of the beauty of a Shabbat morning in shul. In a world filled with noise, how special is the silence when you, in a crowded room, take three steps forward and feel a moment’s peace?
Think of the beauty a child who can read a Rashi. How meaningful is it that our children speak a language that laid dormant for thousands of years, but could only come back to life, because it was preserved in the texts that we loved for all those years ?
Judaism makes our lives better. It provides meaning and context to help us answer the question, “What should I live for?” Judaism can be our compelling life narrative and our greatest treasure. Let’s make it so.
Rabbi Chaim Strauchler Toronto