I’m Curious: Who is reading?

Image: A picture of Jojo the poodle, to reward regular readers who read this post and consider answering the questions.

Instead of a blog post, I’m going to ask some questions, and I would be most grateful to those who answer in the comments. There are no wrong answers, just a desire on my part to learn more about my regular readers.

  1. Do you identify as:
  • Jewish
  • Not Jewish
  • Partly Jewish


2. How much Jewish education have you had?

  • None at all.
  • Some, but I don’t remember anything from it.
  • Several years of religious school
  • Several years of Jewish day school / cheder / yeshiva
  • I have several years of synagogue-based study as an adult.
  • I have a degree in Jewish Studies.
  • I am a professional Jew (rabbi, chazzan, educator, administrator, other)

3. Which of these categories best matches your Jewish identity?

  • Reform
  • Renewal
  • Orthodox
  • Reconstructionist
  • Conservative
  • Just Jewish
  • Just Curious

Thank you!

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

108 thoughts on “I’m Curious: Who is reading?”

  1. 1) Do you identify as:
    Jewish (converted as an adult)

    2. How much Jewish education have you had?
    Several years of synagogue-based study as an adult. I’ve also worked professionally (and volunteered) with several Jewish non-profits.

    3. Which of these categories best matches your Jewish identity?
    Conservative (but I can’t commit to a Kosher kitchen because I love Mexican food too much; meat and milk together!)

    1. Thank you! I was tempted to ask about how people became Jewish (birth? conversion?) but of course that’s not done. Still interesting information for me, and I appreciate you sharing it.

  2. I identify as Jewish by heritage. I’m an Episcopal priest, I studied Hebrew in seminary and had some Jewish (reform) Sunday school as a child and was confirmed at a temple. But I grew up also attending Episcopal church, camp, etc, and in the end that’s where I identified. Aren’t you glad you asked?! 🙂

    1. Janowrite, do you mind if I ask a nosy question? Which Episcopal seminary did you attend? I spent some of my Christian years as an Episcopalian and studied liturgics at Sewanee with Dr. Marion Hatchett, z”l.

      1. What a small world, Rabbiadar! I attended Ripon College Cuddesdon/Univ. of Oxford UK and Church Divinity School of the Pacific at Cal Berkeley. (my liturgy prof was Louis Weil). It’s good to meetcha!

  3. Born jewish, but I wasn’t raised jewish, so I lack the basic education many of my peers received growing up. I never even stepped foot into a shul until I was an adult.

    Several years of adult education in a synagogue.

    I attend the reform, conservative, and orthodox shuls for varying things throughout the year. No single movement has everything that fits our families needs, at least not in the area we live. I don’t consider myself apart of any one movement though. Maybe it’s because none of them quite fit, so I guess that just makes me jewish!

  4. Reform Jewish. Sunday school religious education from Pre-K through High School, Tuesday school Hebrew education grade 4 through Bar Mitzvah as well as four semesters of Hebrew in college (don’t ask me to remember most of it). Briefly taught at a Jewish day school in the early 90s. Weekly Torah study at synagogue over the past five years with the occasional Adult Ed presentation thrown in. Love your blog.

  5. Jewish by choice
    Several years of adult education at synagogue and at home study
    Reform (English “Liberal”)

  6. I identify as not Jewish. I have not had any Jewish education. I read your blog because I’m curious about Jewish customs and culture, and I want to learn more.

  7. Very Jewish and very French so I do not really identify with the American denominations even though I belong to a Reform temple. Educated in Judaism as a young adult and never stopped learning since. I keep kosher at home. Not shomeret shabbat. Raised my children in the US in a Reform movement. Hope I have Jewish grandchildren some day.

  8. 1. Jewish
    2. Graduate of 2-year program with Gamliel Institute (Kvod v’Nichum) and many classes at Lehrhaus Judaica, and adult ed at Temple Sinai Oakland
    3. Reform
    Love your blog because I learn so much that I don’t know or need to be reminded about.

  9. I’ve been Jewish for over 40 of my 71 years and belong to a tiny Reform shut (though philosophically I’m a blend of Reform and Reconstructionist). As a retired professional librarian, I’m clearly a learning junkie so am in a continuous state of education, both self educated and professionally (innumerably Reform kallot, para-rabbinic, on-line with you, and now Hevreh). I’m the congregational educator and resident eternal remedial Hebrew student.

  10. I’d say a) probably want to be Jewish,

    b) no formal education except “introduction to Jewish Experience”. Otherwise some reading things and sometimes visiting shiurim. And some 10 months of regular shul attendance.

    c) This is hard to answer. In some sense I feel/think cross-denominational. Definitely liberal in thought (so in that aspect, close to Reform or possibly also Reconstructionist or Renewal), some fondness of more traditional observance (I like orthodox services, for example), and definitely attraction to mysticism (which might be a point for Renewal, possibly, if I should ever come to have access to Renewal community).

    1. As I said to someone else, I think the term “post-denominational Judaism” applies for many of us. It has been a pleasure to watch your learning path, Hannah.

  11. Jewish. With a degree in Jewish Studies. Categories? I like to learn with Progressive Jews, which, in Minneapolis, is Reform.

  12. Not Jewish, no formal Jewish training (although 12 years of Catholic school) and liberal in thought.

  13. 1) Jewish
    2) Jewish day school, high school, college. All except two years of public middle school.
    3) Not sure. Kinda identify with conservative. Ideal shul would be an egalitarian shteebl: lots of spirituality, no misogyny.

  14. A) Jewish woman, converted at age 52 while I was studying with my younger son as he was preparing for Bar Mitzvah. At conversion, I had been married to a Jewish man for 38 years, but as he was only culturally Jewish (raised Reform), I didn’t realize that there could be a place among the Jewish people for an Irish girl.

    B) Several years of synagogue-based learning as an adult. Three years of Hebrew at San Jose State, followed by 4 months of Ulpan in Israel and a summer at USF Ulpan. Served as my synagogue’s Adult Education Chair, as well as being in charge of the Religious School (principal reported to me). Also served as the Rabbi’s volunteer Assistant in support of services, Torah study, and Bar and Bat Mitzvah training. Also founding Director of the Florence Melton School at the Palo Alto JCC. Also worked in Los Gatos for Israeli start-up for three years, speaking Hebrew in the office and traveling to Israel a couple of times a year.

    C) Independent with preference for Conservative ritual but not halachah. I prefer to pray and sing in Hebrew.

  15. Not Jewish (But with Jewish heritage and Jewish extended family)
    None at all.
    Just Curious.

    I’m 18, and considering converting (and have been for…oh 2 years). I’m happy just to learn more about the culture and religion at the moment, and your blog is always a wonderful read! 🙂

  16. 1. Jewish
    2. Religious School through Confirmation, Lehrhaus, Kevah, Classes Congregation Beth Israel
    3. Open Orthodox

  17. Born Jewish
    Very little formal Jewish education as a child
    Raised in a fairly non-religious, but culturally Jewish home
    Participated in Jewish Educator and Adult Bat Mitzvah programs
    Served on Temple Boards
    Identify with the Reform movement

  18. Not Jewish. I do have some Ashkenazi ancestry though I’ve been unable to date to identify the specific ancestors. I was raised Roman Catholic and have been an Episcopalian for 30+ years.
    No Jewish education.
    I love your blog, appreciate your strong, clear voice, and am enjoying learning from you via your blog.

  19. I definitely identify as Jewish.

    I attended Hebrew school as a child and was a Bat Mitzvah.

    I was brought up in an Modern Orthodox Ashkenazic home and still identify as Modern Orthodox, however I attend services at all types of Synagogues and Temples, including those of the Sephardic community. Jewish is Jewish by me.

  20. I have Jewish ancestry on both my mother’s and my father’s side but was raised a Christian. I am an Episcopalian. People often assume I am Jewish because of my name (Deborah Kroll) and my physical appearance (??). Some years ago I received in the mail an invitation to join a Jewish book club, so I did. I have two shelves of books about Jewish spirituality and have read many, but not all, of them. I am proud of my Jewish heritage and want to learn more.

  21. Jewish (married in, converted later), synagogue-based adult study. These days I have a hard time feeling aligned with any one movement; philosophically I’m more Reform, but I don’t relate to pop-type worship music and prefer more traditional styles of davening. I remember Lori Abramson used to describe herself as “Reservadox,” which probably fits about as well as anything.

  22. 1. Jewish
    2. Several years of advanced study, including talmud, torah, ritual, etc.
    3. Reform, leaning toward more traditional (with a Conservative childhood experience)

  23. Jewish, educated at Conservative and Modern Orthodox Jewish day schools. I currently go to a Reconstructionist synagogue but grew up conservative and orthodox-ish and I spend an inordinate amount of time wondering what all of this branding means.

    1. One term I’ve heard bandied about is “Postdenominational Judaism.” I suspect it fits a lot of us – we hang out in one place (because we can’t be in more than one place at a time) but our hearts are all over, a little here, a little there.

  24. I’ve always been Jewish, and now identify as traditional Reform. Started my formal Jewish education in my late 30’s when my son was born. Now in my 60s I’m an active Temple Sinai member–including chanting Torah. I’m more of a knowledgeable synagogue Jew than most, if not all, of my living relatives… There’s a lot more I don’t know. I learn so much from this blog. Todah Rabah, Rabbi Adar.

  25. 1. Jewish
    2. Some synagogue adult education classes; five years of weekly Hebrew, history, and culture studies with an Israeli; adult bat mitzvah; chevruta Torah study with a rabbi; gabbai training with a rabbi; and lots of private reading and studying.
    3. Renewal

  26. 1. Jewish
    2. None of the above – I was reared ‘Jewish by accident of birth’ but learned (and am learning) as much as possible online. I am severely disabled and cannot attend courses.
    3. I live on a Morrocan moshav and have adopted the label ‘traditional.’

  27. I’m so glad you asked, Rabbi Adar, and am happy to join the respondents.

    I am Jewish and grew up in an interfaith and interracial home where religion was rarely discussed. However, I spent Shabbos with my Orthodox grandparents every week for 15 years. During that time, though, I was never taken to shul.

    I had a little bit of Jewish education in a synagogue 20 years ago but my current journey started in earnest with regular synagogue attendance coupled with your Lehrhaus Judaica course this past year.

    I am a member of a Reform synagogue.

  28. Considering Jewish conversion
    Currently in my first year of adult Jewish studies
    Reform studies currently but drawn to conservatism

  29. 1. Episcopal, but from a mixed marriage (Dad is Jewish, though non-practicing, Mom was Methodist). I struggled for a long time with what my identity was when asked the “What are you?” question that gets asked from grade school on. After understanding that because my Mom wasn’t Jewish, I would not be accepted by certain factions, I started searching for a way to be okay with my mixed heritage even when others weren’t. Now I think of being ‘mixed’ as an opportunity to learn about and value both traditions.)
    2. Undergraduate courses in religion, mostly comparative. (See above — learning about the origins of religious traditions and what they share is a life-long pursuit.)
    3. Love your blog! I learn so much! Thank you for all your writing!

    1. Thank you for replying! – It’s interesting to see how many Episcopalians are regular readers. You are the fourth I’ve counted so far. Do you have any speculation about why so many of the Christians readers are Episcopalians?

      1. That is a very good question, which I don’t really feel qualified to answer. 🙂 That said, I’ve always have the strong impression that the Episcopal Church is one that embraces learning and is respectful of all faiths. It’s also been my own personal experience that the connection between Judaism and Christianity is emphasized to a great degree (I may notice this more as I am from both heritages).

  30. Raised Catholic, and I’m not religious at all these days. But I have always found Judaism incredibly fascinating. A recent genealogical project revealed that my Spanish ancestors who came to New Mexico as part of the 1492 expulsion in Spain, were actually crypto-jews. So perhaps some ancestral memory is inside of me in terms of Judaism. Whatever it is, I find your blog incredibly fascinating and always thought-provoking.

    1. You are not the first person I’ve heard express that question – whether ancestral memory surfaced in them and drew them towards Judaism. Glad you enjoy reading!

  31. 1. Jewish

    2. Religious School plus Jewish Studies Courses at UCLA plus developing the soc.culture.jewish FAQ and running a mailing list on Progressive Judaism for 15 years.

    3. Reform

    1. Thank you for developing the soc.culture.jewish FAQ! If you have recommendations about online resources for learners, especially learners interested in cultural or secular Judaism, I’d love to talk with you about a guest post, or an interview.

  32. Not Jewish.

    Took your Intro courses, which helped me to clarify my purposes, still working on my practices (which is a forever thing, as I understand).

    Hoping to convert Reform.

  33. Not Jewish yet, though I have Jewish ancestry. I have no Jewish education, apart from my own research, and I’m hoping to convert, either Reconstructionist or Humanistic, but I’m researching and learning as much as possible.

    1. Shadow, if there are any topics you’d like to see covered, let me know. You have that wonderful gift, “beginner’s mind” as the Buddhists call it, and y’all ask the Very Best Questions. Thanks for replying.

  34. Hi… 😊 my name is Paul Theriault……I’m non-Jewish…..I belong to the Mormon Church….live in Ontario Canada….love your Blog very much….you are very open, sensitive, and have a point of view that is intelligent and insightful……for me, your posts are a good insight into the American point-of-view…….and, of course, the Jewish point of view which I hold in high regard :)……….

    all the best,



    1. Thank you, Paul! I’m glad you enjoy the blog. If any questions come to mind, I hope you’ll share them, because I’m always on the lookout for topics!

  35. I identify as:Jewish How much Jewish education have you had? 12 years of religious school and was a Bat Mitzvah. Both my sons became a Bar Mitzvah. 3. Which of these categories best matches your Jewish identity? Reconstructionist 

    Pamela Fender, Author

    #yiv1721498072 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1721498072 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1721498072 WordPress.com | rabbiadar posted: “Image: A picture of Jojo the poodle, to reward regular readers who read this post and consider answering the questions.Instead of a blog post, I’m going to ask some questions, and I would be most grateful to those who answer in the comments. There are n” | |

    1. I’m puzzled too, Pamela. I see your messages – they’re right there. But they always have “code-ish” stuff at the end. I truly don’t know what to make of it.

      Thank you for replying!

  36. Hi Rabbi Adar. I still don’t understand why my comments aren’t showing up on your page unless I reply to your email. I’ve unblocked adblock on your page, I have a WordPress account, but still…It’s extremely frustrating.Pamela 

    Pamela Fender, AuthorMobile Notary PublicCertified Signing Agent

    From: Coffee Shop Rabbi To: pdfender@yahoo.com Sent: Tuesday, July 25, 2017 11:51 AM Subject: [New post] I’m Curious: Who is reading? #yiv1721498072 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1721498072 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1721498072 a.yiv1721498072primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1721498072 WordPress.com | rabbiadar posted: “Image: A picture of Jojo the poodle, to reward regular readers who read this post and consider answering the questions.Instead of a blog post, I’m going to ask some questions, and I would be most grateful to those who answer in the comments. There are n” | |

  37. Jewish.
    Rabbi (and Jewish educator).
    My congregation used to be reconstructionist, and is now unaffiliated. i used to think that nearly all progressive/liberal Jews were reconstructionist at heart, they just didn’t know it. Now I am completely unsure about anything.

    Reading the responses above was fascinating.

    1. I agree with you that there’s a Reconstructionist thread in all 21st century liberal Judaism. I recall reading Rabbi Kaplan for the first time and feeling a shock of recognition.

      When I can sit calmly with it, I suspect that “completely unsure about anything” is a very holy place.

      Might you be interested in writing a guest piece about Reconstructionism for the blog? If so, write me at ruthadar-at-gmail and let’s chat.

  38. 1. Jewish
    2. Raised Catholic, converted to Lutheran, converted finally to Judaism at age 44 and have been studying informally ever since (25 years). I can lead services to a degree and am comfortable acting as gabbai.
    3. I identify with Modern Orthodoxy but with an egalitarian bent so I guess I’m Conservadox. I like being part of a shul and have held numerous positions within the two of which I have been a member.

  39. 1. Do you identify as:

    2. How much Jewish education have you had?
    Some and I remember quite a bit, but not enough. And I’m currently trying to learn through a variety of informal sources

    3. Which of these categories best matches your Jewish identity?


      1. Sorry for the delay! I read everything you write:-) And I subscribe to a few D’var Torah emails. I spend a lot of time reading Wikipedia about the vast and convoluted world of Judaism, and I follow my nose to read up on what looks interesting. I follow quite a few Jewish luminaries on Twitter, mostly from the UK or US Reform or Liberal communities. And we’re hoping to go to the UK Limmud this year.

  40. Not Jewish yet – but awaiting conversion date

    2x intro to Judaism courses

    My schul provides services in both Conservative and Reform tradition; I guess I identify very slightly more with Reform, but largely because it is more accessible given my limited Hebrew

  41. Let’s make this short and sweet:

    1. I consider myself Jewish.

    2. I have several years of self-based study as an adult., including history, culture, Hebrew, and even Israeli/Sephardi cuisine. I also have a handful of years of synagogue-based studies lately.

    3. I am Jewish, just Jewish, but also carry the torch of being the president of our synagogue proudly.


  42. 1. Jewish

    2. Within the past two years: Two-thirds of Introduction to Judaism courses (Rabbi Adar), weekly Torah study, A Taste of Gamliel – From Here to Eternity: Jewish Views on Sickness and Dying (various presenters), The Art of Comfort: Death, Dying, Burial: What Jews Do (Dan Fendel), study with my Rabbi during my conversion

    3. Reform

    1. Thank you, David! As I have mentioned to some other respondents, I hope that if you have questions you’ll ask me. Beginners ask the very best questions!

  43. I’m afraid I missed this in the moving chaos, but now that we’re settled in the new house…

    1. I am Jewish.

    2. I had several years of synagogue-based study as an adult, and am now beginning my second year of study as a rabbinical student.

    3. I am a Reform Jew who feels comfortable in most liberal Jewish settings (and some Orthodox ones).

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