Three sisters. Three Jewish perspectives.
Netta, the gastronomic Jew:
We moved to the United States from Israel when I was 12 (did you REALLY think 7th grade was a good age to move across the world, mom and dad?). And even though my grandparents were orthodox, I was surrounded by people, living in a Jewish nation, who were not-so-Jewish. So as a result, I became comfortable with that model: observe the holidays, practice the rituals, but not the religion.
My favorite Jewish holiday is Chanukah because, you guessed it, I love latkes!
My earliest memories of being Jewish: I remember always being surrounded by almost 20 first cousins for every holiday, it was always very loud but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I have three kids and as my husband tells them: "the Levys are loud." I take that as a compliment.
Meirav, the religious Jew:
I think I'm religious by process of elimination, because my sisters are such sinners. I am a middle child, and a libra, through and through. I am the peacekeeper and the one that grounds the rest (what I call grounding my kids call buzzkill). My children attend Jewish schools and we've immersed ourselves in our local Jewish community. My son's Bar Mitzvah, in December of 2016, provided me the opportunity to reconnect to Judaism on a spiritual level, in working with him on a Bar Mitzvah project and learning his Torah portion (in Iraqi trope) alongside him.
My favorite Jewish holiday is Pesach because listening to my father sing the Haggadah to the Iraqi tunes, and now hearing my own children sing along, is one of my happy places and brings back loud and amazing memories of huge gatherings at my grandparents' house in Israel.
My earliest memories of being Jewish have nothing to do with Judaism and everything to do with Israel. They are forever tied in my consciousness and inseparable from each other.
Michal, the traditional Jew:
I'm a blend, in every way. Netta and Meirav don't look alike until you throw me in the mix to weave it all together, and suddenly the similarities appear. It's the same with our approaches to Judaism - to me it's about blending equal parts food and rituals. I'm not often at synagogue, but I practice the rituals (I sing the shema every night at bedtime), and I make a mean challah.
My favorite holiday is Yom Kippur. I kid, I kid. Mine is also Chanukah, because to me there's nothing better than lighting the candles and singing songs with my four daughters for those eight (seven) magical nights. Did I mention that as the baby, and the third girl, I have no memories of my own? That's why I love creating new memories with my own girls and reliving my favorite Jewish traditions through their eyes.