[But you asked “how religious” I am, right? I must have gotten distracted.]
I have a favorite niggun (Jewish melody), but it’s a tough call. I call my dear friend “holy sister” when the moment is right. I’ve described a prayer space-a cramped room in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem-as having a “heartbeat.” I am learning a language that communicates yearning and does not have a glossary conveniently codified. I am still stuck on the alphabet.
[What does Modern Orthodox even mean, amiright?]
I believe G-d’s presence can be found anywhere, and that He/She/Ze cares about my growth and my joy. I believe we matter, humanity matters and individual humans matter to G-d in His/Her/Ze’s grand scheme.
[Is this #whataJewishFeministlookslike?]
I believe in love as a manifestation of G-d in this world. I believe in a G-d who hears tears and the volumes contained in silence and gives some kind of damn. I am one thousand percent sober but would completely understand some reasonable doubt of that fact upon reading these reflections.
[How much cognitive dissonance is too much? Am I thinking my way “off the derech”?]
I believe in a G-d who loves me and my brokenness. I believe in a G-d who wants me to work my tush off and to strive strive strive, and who will meet me where I am.
[Does He/She/Ze care if I remember to take my Zoloft?]
I can’t call myself Chasidic because that’s not my community, according to social constructions (which are, however “constructed,” real nonetheless). But I cannot deny the resonance of Chasidut’s teachings with my very Jewish heart, the way Rebbe Nachman humanizes the “religious experience” we have reduced to synagogue bureaucracies and fear of legitimizing the “other.” The way the Piaseczno Rebbe tells me to pray for songfulness in my soul, and to measure my aspirations, instead of melting into the list of buzzwords we think makes things clearer. (It doesn’t at all.)
If Chasidut is playing Carlebach and the Katzes on repeat during midterms season, call me a Chasid.
If it means the belief that G-d hears your whispers as a melodic plea, call me a Chasid.
If it means I believe in struggling and striving, call me a Chasid. Or don’t. But know that there’s something Chasidic in me that labels can only cheapen. Something prayerful, something lost and found and getting its bearings in this world, something childlike and growing with me, like skin.
I have so much to learn.
[Does that answer your question?]