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28 October 2014
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To be Jewish is to question
A disused tank in Israel
There is more to Israel than war.

My name is Sophie Roberts and I am Jewish.

But when I was in my late teens I began to question whether Judaism was a religion that I could relate to?

I decided to go to Israel.

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An introduction to Kabbalism



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FACTS

'Kibbutz' is the hebrew for 'Jewish settlement'.

The first kibbutz was established 40 years before recognition of the state of Isreal in 1948.

Kibbutzim comprise a socioeconomic system based on the principal of joint ownership of property and land. Kibbutzim believe in equality and cooperation in production and eduaction.

Kabbalism is a mystical form of Judaism.

Source: jewishvirtuallibrary.org

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My Israel

For nine months I lived, worked and travelled around Israel. In this time I discovered that Israel is an amazing place. To be a Jew in Israel is an indescribable privilege.

"Judaism is a religion built on philosophy and debate".

My time away taught me that there were probably no concrete solutions to many of my questions. Instead, through education in politics, culture, history, ivrit (the hebrew language) and Torah, I realised that for many of its followers, Judaism is a way of life, a nationality, and a lifetime commitment and for many a dream or an ideal yet to be fulfilled.

To be Jewish is to question. It is a religion built on philosophy and debate.

Uninspiring, meaningless ritual

My experience of Judaism in the Diaspora had been bland and uninspiring, a chore that was added to the endless list of things I was supposed to be doing. It seemed to predominantly consist of a series of meaningless rituals without purpose or pleasure, inspiring no passion, emotion or spirituality.

The statue of Faith
The Statue of Faith in Israel

My time in Israel taught me to view Judaism in a new light. The rituals laid down in the Torah suddenly came to life. The Harvest festival, Sukkot, was actually celebrated when the fruit was ripe to harvest, rather than in the middle of winter when the earth was barren, as it did so in England.

During this time I was introduced to the concept of Kabbalism - Jewish mysticism and spirituality. I learned that humming a niggun; a wordless, melodic tune, had the power to lift a person up.

Sprituality

Israel provided me with the sense of spirituality that I had never experienced in England. Unfortunately I have not experienced it since leaving Israel. Kabbalism outside of Israel is lost to me, and I to it, and this is painfully sad.

Practicing Jew?

Today, at home in England, I would not describe myself as a 'practicing' Jew; I do not attend synagogue and I do not obey many of the laws referring to food or lifestyle laid down by the Torah.

This is the way I choose to live my life, yet the blood that runs through my veins and the tradition woven into my family life is rooted in Jewish culture. Judaism is a family orientated religion that brings people together to live, work, play and pray.

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