Why Judaism?

I’ve never been much of a “joiner.” I’m mostly not into organized, group activities or live events in which you get carried away by emotion (concerts, sports games, etc.). I don’t know why, it’s just a quirk of my personality. But the times I have been involved in group activities have been quite enjoyable and meaningful.

I knew I needed more meaningful group activities, so I chose Judaism to help me. I wanted to find out what Judaism did so correctly. It has survived thousands of years and still fosters a strong sense of identity and community, even among people who have virtually nothing in common other than their religion. It is full of seemingly non-sensical rituals and rules that any “reasonable” person would think is absurd (No bacon? Seriously?).

I figured Judaism was smarter than I was so I decided to observe a few different practices. | Expand



  • Judaism was established circa 2000 BCE and is considered the first monotheistic religion (that we know about)
  • During Shabbat, you’re not supposed to do any work or even “ignite a fire” which means you can’t even turn a light switch on or off. Orthodox Jews often make sure to leave the necessary lights on or off before Shabbat begins.
  • Judaism does not actively proselytize, but will accept converts who are willing to go through a rigorous conversion process

Read More

The Sabbath

judaismAwesome book by a Jewish theologian that explains why Shabbat (the Sabbath) is so important to Judaism.


Pirkei Avot

judaismTranslated as “Ethics of Our Fathers,” it is ethical and moral commentary by rabbis that date back to 500 BCE. It reveals excellent insight into Jewish moral thinking that are still applicable to modern lives.

Man’s Search for Meaning

judaismThis is an important memoir of a Jewish psychiatrist’s time in a concentration camp. He focuses primarily on how he helped his fellow captives find meaning in the most terrible circumstances. Though not about Judaism per se, it offers excellent lessons in how meaning is created, not something you just “find within yourself.” It is an activate, deliberate process, not a passive one.

In a Modern World...

In a modern, individualistic society, the general consensus is that people need to find their own ways through live, and that each path is unique to the person following it. Each person needs to go on a sort of quest to find meaning in their lives. The result is that while some people may indeed be successful finding meaning on their own, far more people just end up confused and lonely.

Judaism takes the opposite view and says that while you are indeed a unique individual, your search for meaning is a not search at all but rather a shared and communal experience that is cultivated through ritual and tradition.  This method of acquiring meaning is robust and time-tested and is a far more fruitful model for any modern person who wants to feel a part of something greater than themselves.

Jewish Wisdom

  • The Freedom of Constraint
  • Wonder
  • Finding community at … McDonalds?
  • Marriage according to ancient wisdom (I got engaged)
  • The Ancient Wisdom of Thick Institutions
  • My Jewish Wedding Program
  • Getting Married While the World Burns
  • Parenting as noble work
  • A letter to someone on the internet who is getting old and feels lost
  • Don’t half ass your day off
  • My 30 Day Experiment

    My Practice: Attend morning Minyan (prayer) services, participate in Shabbat, and read Talmud (scripture)

  • Intro to Month 3 – Judaism for Community
  • Judaism: Day 1 – My First Minyan and the Value of Language
  • Judaism: Day 2 – Daf Yomi , or Ancient Jewish Blog Comments
  • Judaism: Day 3 – The Unexpected Benefit of Standing Out
  • Judaism: Day 4 – Should you factor culture into your decision-making?
  • Judaism: Day 5 and 6 – Resting is Hard Work
  • Judaism: Day 7 and Week 1 Recap – Judaism: Day 7 and Week 1 Recap
  • Judaism: Day 8 – Good things come to those who participate
  • Judaism: Day 9 – Anger Management
  • Judaism: Day 10 – The Four Types of Students
  • Judaism: Day 11 – My Shabbat Dinner Speech
  • Judaism: Day 12 and 13 – Shabbat vs. HR Work-Life Balance Policies (plus brisket photos)
  • Judaism: Day 14 and Week 2 Recap
  • Judaism: Day 15 – Community Obligations
  • Judaism: Day 16 – Jewish YOLO
  • Judaism: Day 17 – Coffee with the Minyan
  • Judaism: Day 18 – The Individual vs. the Community
  • Judaism: Day 19 and 20 – Orthodox Shabbat (or why you need to work at religion)
  • Judaism: Day 21 and Week 3 Recap
  • Judaism: Day 22 – Passover Seder, Part 1
  • Judaism: Day 23 – Passover, Part 2
  • Judaism: Day 24 – You should embrace rules
  • Judaism: Day 25 – My Double-date
  • Judaism: Days 26-28 and Week 4 Recap
  • Judaism: Day 29 – Being spiritual is about doing
  • Judaism: Day 30 – Love and friendship
  • Judaism: Day 31 and Month 3 Wrap-up