Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Glass Definitely Half Full

The title to this blog probably come from the most important thing you can learn when you live with Sephardic Jews (Jews from Northern Africa). It isn't an answer to a longtime brain-thumper. It doesn't have anything to do with the outlook on life. You just know here that if someone asks you pertaining to your drink, the glass is HALL FULL. Maybe even 5/8ths. 

What's my reasoning?

If you know anything about my Grandma Starr... You already have your foot most of the way in the Sephardic community. Yes, that little woman and the tricks she has up her sleeve are not so tricky when you see where she came from. Rule number 1) If you are called to a sephardic jews house, it will most likely be to eat well... and to eat a lot. And just when you think you are done eating, out comes the actual meal. hmmmmmm. I am so excited to return to America and just sit in my Sephardic Grandmother's home and admire all her "querks" that I once thought were so strange. To see them in their true light, in being part of her culture. 

I dont just say this about my grandmother. Here will be your Jewish lesson #1, and one of the first questions I had to learn the answer to her...

What is a Sephardic Jew, what is an Ashkenazi Jew? 

To be fair, I don't fully know the full extent of the meanings, nor will I probably ever. But, something I did have to know was which one I was because in Israel it is like your I.D. What to expect from Sephardic Jews. What to expect from Ashkenazi. And in the end, like a guide book in my head to "What to expect from grandma starr." haha. ;-) I love her so much.

Sephardic Jews (my grandmother's family) - includes Jews from Spain, Portugal, North Africa, & the Middle East based on your heritage... not the modern location. In the great year of 1492 (Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue) many Jews were expelled from Spain relocating themselves in....AFRICA. A sephardic Jew is labeled by his manerisms (usually very loud and states their opinions abrubtly), the food he/she eats (although it is renown for how great it is, I am actually talking about a specific day what they eat... Where Ashkenazi will not eat rice on Passover, Sephardic jews will along with eating: corn, peanuts, and beans. 

Again let me repeat that I am not a scholar in this area so don't take my word as gold here, I'm just trying to express what I have learned up until this point in order that I spark your interest to research on your own.

Sephardic Jews are more likely to be involved in non-Jewish culture... or also know as Secular Jews. The reason being, in Morocco for example, this helped to create less tension between the Christian/Catholic & Jewish relations. I literally feel like I am just learning who my grandma is from the common definition of a Sephardic Jew. hahaa

Ashkenazic Jews: Jews from France, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Basically known for the opposite of the Sephardic Jews. 

There are also Yeminite Jews, Ethiopian Jews, & Asian Jews. In Israel people are labelled by these barriers. The Sephardi's go to a Sephardic Synagogue, the men spend hours in a pot luck every sunday together. The Ashkenazi usually are the lighter skinned people (with the exception of me) haha. Seriously I can't tell you how many people's jaws drop when they find out that I am a Sephardic Jew. 

This is just your first lesson in Jewish culture... not even a complete one. Now, that just 1 of 129872891723982738947325909348573928457934825793457l....x10^7938 things that you will need to learn before our departure in 4 months. Hence the reason why I have been a little busy (sorry) and not writing on the blog. I do miss you all though. There is a certain type of stress release I get from this. Like at the end of the day, when everything is all confused again, I can write it all down, forget it, and process it again in the future when the time is right. And considering you have 4 intense religions going on at the same time here, I would say that that is the best thing you can do. Good or bad, throw it away at the end of the day, do your devotions, and if God wakes you up and stirs you to delve back into it... then it was probably truth. 

I am excited to say that amidst the countless Jewish Rabbis, the Jewish influence, the people telling me that they "Do not believe in the Son of...." I just can't pull my self to write the whole thing. Despite the arab influence telling me that I have done nothing to prove myself to my God, and despite all the critics and intellectuals telling me how I am so wrong... I wake up every morning and cannot deny what God has placed in my heart. And every morning I wake up desiring Him, desiring Christ more and more. And that is what is exciting. I told my parents before I came here that I would be open to anything. Because God says in Jeremiah 29:13 
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

And that is in the Old Testament... meaning Jew and Christian alike MUST believe it. I hold on to that Truth every moment that I am here. I hold on to that truth when my professor tries to historically prove religion to be a flaw in the span of time. I hold on to that truth when my aunts show me all the "things" that I do wrong according to the Torah. I hold on to that truth when parts of what I have always known are changed. When God opens my eyes. I hold on to that Truth when Rabbi's are laughing at me saying that I am just a silly adolescent for believing in that "Jesus Cr**". Now I don't want to put down the Jewish people for what a few have done... And I don't want to praise the Christians either because likewise our flaws are seen through huge scars throughout history. But I will say that there are things that both are missing. Viewpoints that have been lost due to an attempt to "prove that someone is right." I think many times someone on the left side of a line wants so badly to not be on the right, that he will spend years running from the right to the points where he cant even see the line anymore. He can't even see the direction He really wanted to go in the first place.

I don't know. If that makes any sense to you, feel free to think about it. If it doesn't, let it go. I would just encourage you to not be afraid of your faith. Enjoy learning why it is you believe what you believe. Because that is the most important point... not that you were the best christian, or that you were the best Jew, not that you went to synagogue or church the most times, or said the most prayers throughout the day or believed in grace to the point of not praying at all. The point of having a belief is that you BELIEVE it. With everything you are. With every intellectual part of you, with every religious part of you, every emotional part of you. Stop trying to prove yourself right.

I came to Israel in the middle of this religious mess not to get confused, not to make people think I was questioning my faith.... I came to Israel to seriously throw myself upon the Lord, to show that even amidst the worlds greatest intellectuals, God still rises. That Jesus is still the Son. That is what faith meant for me. Trusting that my God was God. Trusting Him to walk me through to the Promise Land, and come out with my glass half full... which is a miracle by anyones standards considering I am in a desert. ;-)

Blessings from Jerusalem,



  1. I just read that Tol Camille and she really was happy to hear that we came from Spain she had no idea but always wondering that Because that's what she studied when she went to Spain about the Sephardic Jews moving to Morocco We are learning so much about our family

  2. Luke, you are so amazing and I'm so happy that you're out there having all the adventures of a lifetime. Live it up! Miss you. Write me sometime ( Jaja cuándo regresarás? Estamos en contacto, chau, que tengas un SUPER buen día.