Most Jews know that Judaism can be a little intimidating, which for some people is a good enough reason to run for the door. Or maybe you gave Judaism a try, but you didn’t get enough out if it to keep you coming back. The fact is that Judaism sometimes gets a bad rap and that’s led to too many people missing out on the good stuff. JewBelong is out to change all that.
"It's about time." -God (and your mother)
JewBelong helps you find the joy, meaning, relevance and connection that Judaism has to offer. JewBelong’s Judaism always stands for inclusion and welcomes everyone wherever they are (or aren’t) on their Jewish journey. Our easy explanations and meaningful rituals are just the beginning. We exist for Jews, and for people who aren’t Jewish but are part of a Jewish community, for anyone who has felt like a Jewish outsider (which TBH is probably most of us), and especially for(DJs for short). That’s literally why our name/tagline is JewBelong: for when you feel you don’t!
We don’t care which of your parents is Jewish, or if neither of them is, whether you’ve ever set foot in a synagogue or if you don’t believe in God. Unlike so many other belief systems, Judaism, especially at JewBelong, can be flexible AF. Everything we say at JewBelong is welcoming and low barrier. JewBelong is filled with easy-to-follow, fun, relevant, sometimes humorous and meaningful content. So, find what inspires you and share it with the world.
Your Dad is Jewish but your Mom isn't? Cool.
Whether you call it Japathy (Jewish Apathy), Jewish Continuity, future of the Jewish People, or just a crying shame, the question of whether Judaism will even exist several generations from now is real. We’d be lying if we said that didn’t keep us up at night. Jewish people have contributed much to the world and are not ready to get off the stage just yet. And we don’t think you are either. It’s simple math though. Jews only make up less than 2% of the population in the U.S. and that number is shrinking. We’re trying to turn that tide. And once you look at all that Judaism has to offer, we’re willing to bet you’ll be glad that you did. There’s a misconception out there that Judaism is only about faith, god and rules, and lots of Hebrew. WRONG! Judaism has fabulous tools and wisdom for how to lead a better, more meaningful life. Period. Here is a partial list of the things that Judaism cares about that we know you care about too: parenting, how to prioritize your time, work ethic, sex, how to be a better son or daughter, community, education, being more charitable, how to be a more loving partner, treating our earth with care, being a champion for social justice, an animal lover, even a healthier eater. Amazing, right? We know! But that’s just the beginning…
What? Jews make up less than 2% of the population in the U.S.? Yeah, we were surprised too.
Being part of a Jewish community of some kind will help you feel part of something bigger than yourself. We know it’s a broad statement but trust us on this. Almost everyone wants meaning and community in their lives, right? Why do you think people get so passionate about Tough Mudders, CrossFit, Soul Cycle, a million kinds of yoga, walk-a-thons, motivational speakers, fraternities, meditation, therapy, football teams, etc.? It’s because when people are bettering their souls and/or feel like they are part of something, even if it’s running through mud together, they feel somehow bigger than themselves! And it can be exhilarating. Judaism is that. We challenge anyone to find a more time-tested belief system that can help you through birth, death and everything in between.
Jewish community: a little like your CrossFit friends, but with less sweat and grunting.
No. But it’s complicated. Judaism is, at its core, a communal religion, and it’s very hard to do alone. For some people, synagogue is the heart of their community and a place they look forward to being. Lots of others go out of habit or guilt, especially Holocaust guilt. (Like, our ancestors were murdered because they were Jewish… the least we can do is go to synagogue once a year, right? Well…not exactly.) That said, people’s relationship with their synagogue can be, well… complicated. Many synagogues across the United States are sucking air right now. They’re losing membership and can’t seem to excite people enough to join or come to synagogue more than occasionally. Many of them are trying hard to figure out what will make their congregations thrive, especially beyond Hebrew school. Synagogues are an important center of Jewish community though. And there are lots of different kinds of synagogues out there, maybe even one that you will love. Side note for synagogue goers: synagogue membership is not an excuse for NOT practicing your Judaism with joy and connection.
On the other hand, the wise Abraham Heschel has this to say: “The center of Judaism is in the home. In contrast to other religions, it is at home where the essential celebrations and acts of observance take place, rather than in the synagogue or temple. The synagogue is an auxiliary. A Jewish home is where Judaism is at home, where Jewish learning, commitment, sensitivity to values are cultivated and cherished.” So yes, you can have a hearty Jewish practice even if you never leave home.
We know – we didn’t really answer the question. Honestly, you need to answer this one on your own. We do think that Jewish community of some sort is important and that it will add to your life in ways you may not be aware of yet. If synagogue just isn’t for you, you might want to try finding a Jewish community somewhere else, like a JCC. Or with a group of like-minded people, called chavurahs. Or check out the JELP section to learn about some super-cool organizations that are celebrating Jewish in other ways.
If you wanted a religion that never changed, you'd be Catholic.
There is no best way to use JewBelong. Maybe you’re here because you’re pregnant and want readings for a bris, or maybe Passover is coming, and you’re about to host or go to your first Seder, or maybe you are falling in love with someone who is Jewish and you’re not and you want to see what all the fuss is about. Great. If you’re looking for something in particular, go to our search section. Search a topic and then choose the readings that you like most and use them to add meaning to everything from a Jewish milestone to your pet’s birthday celebration. We have booklets for each of the Jewish holidays and for some milestones, but everything else is more free form. Just print whatever you’d like or save readings for later by clicking on the little heart icon next to each of the readings or share them by using the social media or email icons. (It’s easy to save and share, but you need to create an account first. Just click “account” at the top right-hand corner of the page.)
P.S. We’ve done our best to include author’s names for most of the readings on JewBelong. But, if you come across a reading, quote, etc. that isn’t credited properly, and you know who wrote the piece, please let us know.
P.P.S. Everything on JewBelong is free, but we love when people make donations to help keep JewBelong going! (There’s a handy-dandy “donate” button at the top of the page, on what techy folks call “the nav bar.”) Thank you!
Add meaning to your holidays with the touch of a (print) button. Make copies for everyone!
Why make an account and save your favorite JewBelong stuff? Because someday Jack is going to get off his ass and pop the question and you’re going to get to plan that wedding you've been thinking about since third grade.
Because why use any of your precious brain cells to remember where you kept those great readings that you’ll use someday at Jeffrey’s B Mitzvah? Make an account, keep the readings there. Easy peasy. The only thing you’ll need to remember is your password, and from personal experience that’s hard enough.
Hey, can you watch the phones on Friday? We have a thing.