Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
As a Jewish woman living in the South, who proudly identifies as a spiritual person, I am often engaged in “God-talk.”
My friends feel comfortable telling me about their thoughts, feelings, and spiritual experiences. They also always encourage me to share mine, and this leads to a lot of wonderfully enriching conversations. Of course, living in New Orleans, while I do have a wonderful Jewish community – the majority of my friends are not Jewish. But in these God-talks, we have much more in common than one would imagine from the outside looking in, despite the differences in our religions.
The other day, my devoutly Christian hairdresser shared a story with me about selling her house. She told me that she prayed for two weeks straight, and it sold. Despite my comfort with spiritually focused conversations, I internally bristled at this statement. Praying to God for something like a home sale? Is that, well… prayer-worthy? Despite all my frequent conversations with friends of other faiths, in my Jewishly-shaped perception of prayer, daily-life-requests or personal-situation prayers are not exactly front and center.
But then, I quickly thought to myself: When your son was on the road in the rain at night, driving a 15’ moving van from Tennessee to Texas, didn’t you pray for his safety? When he finally arrived at 2:00am safe and sound, didn’t you thank God for this, and all of your blessings before you slept? That’s a daily-life, personal-situation prayer, too. Who am I to judge what another prays for or attributes thanks to God for, anyway?
I don’t know how this wireless communication with God, which we call “prayer,” actually works. I do know that when there is nothing else that I can “do,” it brings me comfort to connect with God through prayer. Jews do pray for the healing of others through our Mi Shebeirach prayer. We do ask God to bless us with peace, and we pose many other requests through our prayers. I do know that those around me who are filled with gratitude for their blessings seem happier with their lives.
And thanks to my friends, I know that prayer looks and feels different to different people. Even when we’re not praying together, we can still appreciate each others’ prayers—and be grateful for the safe return of sons, the successful sale of old homes and starting new journeys in new ones, and everything that makes us feel grateful.
What do you pray for, and how do you pray? We can continue the God-talk in the comments below!