(idea submitted by Elissa G.)
During the course of any Jewish Young Adults life, there is undoubtedly a period where the JYA will explore his/her religious side and dabble in various forms of piety. There are varied degrees of religious inclination, but odds are strong that somewhere between 18 and 35 every JYA has gone on some version of personal exploration in Judaism.
In many instances this means observing Shabbat, usually for a period of two weeks to three months. Frequently this decision happens immediately after the JYA has returned from an organized trip to Israel, like Birthright, when the seeds of Judaism are particularly fertile. In some cases this initial interest flourishes into a strong religious connection of renewed spirituality for the JYA. In other cases the JYA reverts back to his/her initial secularism because there is a party on Friday night that they simply can’t miss.
Observance of Shabbat is not the only example of dabbling in religiosity. As “Debbie”, a JYA from Chicago pointed out: “I was totally shomer negiyah after Dave broke up with me. I was like, I’m totally saving myself for marriage. But then Jordan called me like two weeks later”
Some JYAs delve even deeper when flirting with the Jewish faith, sometimes spending some time at one of the many Yeshivot in Israel, like Aliyos Shmuel, or spending a weekend praying with religious Zionist Aish HaTorah members in communities like Efrat.
Another example is twenty-six year old JYA “Gabe”, from Boston, who returned to his hometown after a year in Israel with Otzmah, eager to incorporate some of his newfound interest and passion for the religion by abstaining from all leavened products for the entire duration of Passover. While Gabe was used to the ease of keeping Passover in Israel, where there simply isn’t the option to buy leavened products, he found himself on the 3rd night saying Shehecheyanu over a pizza and Sam Adams out with his friends.
Whatever the extent, be it momentary of life-long, dabbling into the religious side of Judaism is a rite of passage for any JYA, almost as important as getting your first kiss in 7th grade during an awkward game of Truth or Dare at Jewish summer camp.