Ryan and I went to our first Basic Judaism class last night. There was 10 of us there: One other couple, who we think might be already Jewish. A middle-aged woman who began studying Talmud six years ago with the rabbi. (She admits she's kind of going at this out of order). A woman who moved here from Tulsa just last week who'd like to convert. She was raised Jehovah's Witness. She's married with a young son. A young man who attends temple functions regularly who has a young family. He says he was raised "fundamentalist Christian." Rounding out the group is Miriam, who I think runs the women's group in the temple. (I love the way Miriam's Hebrew just rolls off her tongue. I think my tongue is too short for all the inflections and quick syllables of Hebrew and Yiddish.) And the rabbi's wife.
She and the rabbi just married last May and it was interesting watching her re-learn Judaism through her new husband's eyes. At one point she even got a tad emotional listening to her husband lead a discussion about what Judaism is. (Some responses: a culture, a religion, a faith, a way of life, a counterculture, a family, etc.)
We spent most of the 90 minutes in the class going over that exact question. Then some others asked their own questions. (Do I have to convert my toddler? Why do my Christian friends think they need to convert me? Why are some Jews skeptical of converts? Do Orthodox Jews see Reform Jews as Jews?)
I think Ryan and I learned a lot from the first class. I'm excited for the next one.
One thing I did learn last night that doesn't involve Judaism: Ryan laughs at his own wisecracks... Just like someone else I've known for 24 years. (Read: My dad.) Oy.