The Dominance of Tradition

I would be happy to see my family tradition continue

Country Julia Rempel

 

The Jewish people originate, according to the Tanah, from Mesopotamia. The nation’s forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jacob’s descendants formed twelve Israel tribes who lived in Egypt in the second part of the second millennium BC. Few other ethnic groups have gone through so many hard periods of xenophobia. Our columnist, Julia Rempel, owner of Le Grand Bazar boutique and ‘Stomatologia 31’ Clinics tells how it feels to be a Jew following Jewish traditions.

I descend from the very ancient family. We are a small people estimated at fourteen million in the world therefore we try our best to keep our traditions and authenticity. According to the Halakha, a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother and hasn’t changed religious confession. I feel myself a one hundred percent Jew and try to transmit this feeling to my children. Life became different and it is hard to hold what is written in our Law but we observe it and observe its Commandments.

My parents’ family wasn’t religious and when we emigrated to America and I had to continue studying, we chose Atlanta Yeshiva High School. I didn’t expect girls to study separately from boys and wear long shirts and sleeves. I found myself in a Jewish world, new and strange for a Soviet girl. We studied traditional European disciplines along with the Jewish religious law. Step by step things started to make sense and I began to feel the importance of transmitting centuries old traditions, careful attitude to my people and background.

I think people turn to God when they need help and there are no answers for personal inner questions in a secular world.

It is a common situation of being alone with yourself and God and finding solace and comfort. Religious rituals are part of tradition. They are necessary because they give a way of getting over daily routine and concentrate on spiritual tasks. For me faith and Temple is power, peace, serenity and acceptance. When I feel good or bad same as anyone in the world I want to go somewhere I’ll be accepted and feel at home and the Synagogue became such a place for me.

My family decided to set up a community for the foreign Jews coming to Moscow. There are many communities now as Jews coming from many places in the world open their societies. Many people of other nations speaking English as their native language came to Moscow on the wave of enthusiasm about changes during Perestroyka. They started their businesses, married, got children. They want to gather somewhere, spend Shabbat, share their stories, talk about everything in English. As a response for this request we opened a community with Klein family in the historical building in one of Stariy Arbat lane. Ceilings of the building’s rooms are painted in Russian style and it doesn’t break the harmony of action with Hasidim and women in wigs. Community helps me to explain and give example of many things to my children, to help them learn traditions.

Illustration Nata Dedova

There’s no wrong ways or right ways. Everyone has his own way. I often ask myself what will be the way my children choose and if I can decide for them. Do I have a right to do it and will I accept their choice? Up to what limit can I influence it? On one hand it is not much important what confession a person you are going to share your destiny and live with belongs to. On the other hand, common points of view, value system, circumstances you grew and developed under, life attitude give more possibilities to solve family problems and difficulties. For us family is the most important thing defining person’s life and this attitude becomes not so common in today’s world. The inconceivable number of Jewish antecedents’ generations in our family affects my attitude towards this question. Strictly speaking we actually have no choice for marrying except within our community. Traditions should be continued, nurtured and protected for future generations and I would be happy to see my family tradition continue.