Sep 4, 2013

Rosh Hashanah for Non-Jews

Like most Puerto Ricans living in the island, I was raised in the Catholic faith. Babtized at 9 months. First communion at twelve. All up to high school, I knew spirituality through the Catholic religion.

 I’ve always considered myself a seeker. Or as Gabrielle Berinstein calls “spirit junkie” or how I call it – “spiritually curious.” I’ve always been attracted to spirituality. And spirituality attracted to me. Friends invite me to their churches. I get stopped by random people on the streets to give me “messages from up above.” Spiritual books “just” come to me. 

 Three books have been important turning points in my spirituality. In college I read Robyn’s “Angels” book. It helped me understand that there is much more than the physical world. There’s a divine spirits send by God. 

 For a whole year in college, I visited a Christian Church in South Miami. My roommate at that time brought me there, after she felt God’s calling through a Christian couple while at work. I immediately felt the presence of God. It was lead by a young pastor and his wife. It was a warm, loving, youth congregation. I went to a Christian retreat. I have never felt the presence of God as strongly as I did in that retreat. I came back renewed. Restored. I loved God more than anything. He was by boyfriend. I even had a desire not to drink anymore. Unfortunately, that “fire” didn’t last long. After a year, I stopped attending the church completely. It had more “don’ts than “do’s.” Among other things, I was contradicted with their belief of gay people. I had dear gay friends around me. I couldn’t be friends with them? Isn’t God’s teaching is to love everyone? I was contradicted. Many times I left service feeling ashamed of myself…ashamed of my friends, rather than inspired and renewed. I stopped going completely. It was like a sugar high and then a rapid low. Religion failed me.

Then it was Rick Warren’s “Why on I’m on Earth for?” The book was really a catalyst for my “spiritual curiosity.” It had bible teachings in a practical way. I discovered the concept of “life purpose.” Of knowing that I wasn’t here just to be my parent’s daughter, or go to college or have a career. I was here for a purpose. Something bigger than myself. And it was up to me to find out what was it. Fast. Very “Oprah.” 

 The third book was “The Power of Kabbalah” by Yehuda Berg. It was passed to me by one of my best friends, who got it from one of our mutual good friends. Up until this point, I only knew about Kabbalah because Madonna studied it. I thought it was the most amazing concepts I’ve ever written. It answered many of my humanity’s existence questions. And many other new –deeper-questions aroused. My “spiritual curiosity” took a rapid turn. It was truth. Simple. Practical. Everything made more sense. It was like finding a piece of a puzzle – life puzzle – that I was missing. 

 After reading it, my friend and I spent hours discussing the book while sipping wine. We decided to visit one the intro lectures @ The Kabbalah Center in Miami. Fascinated, but not ready to start studying it. Throughout the course of a few years, every time that I needed a break from the South Beach partying lifestyle, a dose of “reality” or “truth” I turned to “The Power of Kabbalah.” 

Five more years passed before I was “ready” to start studying Kabbalah. In the meantime, I was introduced by a friend to Unity. Unity is not considered themselves a religion. They welcome all religions, all people from different walks of life. They read the bible in a metaphysical way. They meditate after each service. They don’t have priest, but spiritual leaders that get married and had kids. It was wonderful. I felt I had found a spiritual place where it taught beyond bible stories, do’s and don’ts lists. It was practical. It was a ‘religion’ for the now. Progressive. Contemporary. I visited for few years. Took metaphysical classes. I loved it. I still love it and think is one of the most amazing spiritual groups in existence. 

 When I moved to NYC in the summer of 2009, one of the first things I did was go to one of the intro lectures @ The Kabbalah Center. Not so much because I wanted to “study” (is really like an University…a spiritual University. But one that you never graduate. You are studying for life. The ultimate goal? To become like God. That’s how many lifetimes you need to study and you’ll never graduate). I wanted community. I wanted to meet people and I wanted to find a spiritual home. Unity in Queens had too early Sunday services for me (10am), so I never went, even though I wanted to. Call that “spiritual laziness.” It happened that I was “ready.” It was my time to start studying Kabbalah. 

 My Kabbalah journey I’ll describe in more detail in a future blog post. Fast forward four years and now I’m on the plane en route to Los Angeles, where I’ll attend the Int’l Rosh Ashannah Event with The Kabbalah Center with other 3,000+ students from around the world. Brazil, Mexico, Toronto, Venezuela, Africa, Israel, Puerto Rico. Rosh means “head” Ashalahn “year.” Head of the year. Not in Gregorian calendar times, like in January, but as in the beginning of humanity. The creation. Adam and Eve. Even though it’s regarded as a Jewish holiday. It happens, is not. It’s a cosmic window of 48 hours that happen in the universe, every year. According to the Kabbalistst, it’s judgment day. It’s like entering a big courtroom with God as the judge and the angels as the jury. What’s the case? All the positive and negative actions we did in the previous year. Wow. This “court case” is happening regardless of what religion you are in, what country you are, whether you are playing Golf in Hawaii or in a synagogue, Rosh Hashanah is happening. What’s decided on that “courtroom?” 

According to Kabbalists, three things are decided in these 48 hour period: how many relationships (business, love, friends, family), how many living days and how many blessings we’ll have in the coming year. If this “court case” is happening, would you rather be sipping pina coladas in Hawaii or would you like to be “present” in the courtroom showing The Creator all the good things – and repenting – for all the bad things you did? This is why I chose to join other 3,000 people that are also “showing up” for their own court case.