Then v. Now
In 2014, I began my journey into the blogosphere through the Times of Israel, writing about issues related to Israel and Judaism. Then, after my father died in 2018, I blogged at TOI throughout my year of Jewish mourning; and, following that, I launched The Skeptic’s Kaddish here at WordPress.
At first, and for quite some time, I invested no small amount of energy in connecting with other Jewish and/or Israeli bloggers with very limited success. A handful of my friends in the blogosphere are Jews and blog on Jewish themes, but the great majority of my WordPress connections are not Jewish. As for Israeli bloggers, I’ve found even less success.
For some time, I was disappointed about this, but gradually my thinking shifted and I embraced the truth: The Skeptic’s Kaddish is, first and foremost, a poetry blog. Certainly, it was birthed out of a very Jewish blogging journey; but, as much as I am very much the Jewish blogger, mine is not a “Jewish blog”. Naturally, I regularly relate to the themes of Jewish identity, Judaism, and Israel in my writing, but none of these are my focus at The Skeptic’s Kaddish.
If I’m being honest with myself, I feel no small sense of relief at taking The Skeptic’s Kaddish in a different direction, even though I’d never expected to do so.
Issues of identity, nationality, religion, faith, etc., are very heavy and sometimes fraught; and, frankly, I don’t always want to get into them. Such issues have the potential to stoke antagonistic feelings and interactions with others (including those who share facets of my identities and those who do not).
Poetry, on the other hand, is, for the most part, quite the opposite – it’s unifying. It often brings out those aspects of our lived experiences as human beings, which transcend borders and labels. Also, at its best, it’s somehow more… fundamental, more raw, because it’s something that comes entirely from within myself, rather than from contexts that have been defined for me.
With every poem, I am free to select which prisms to direct my light through.
Giving up my search
And so, after nearly two years of blogging on WordPress, I have completely stopped looking for blogs related to Judaism and Israel.
The WordPress reader allows bloggers to search for and browse through other blogs by tags and keywords; and, until today, my list of search terms, which I developed over months, included upwards of 40 tags. I had tags related to religion, politics, and theology, among other things; and today I removed every single one of those.
Some of the tags I’ve left for myself relate to creative writing, some – to family, some – to introspective reflections, and some – to universal human emotions like anxiety and grief. These are the sorts of blog posts that truly interest me – the ones that I can relate to on a fundamentally human level.
Perhaps I may again do a search for Jewishly-themed blogs, but, honestly, I find that I no longer particularly want to. My focus on writing poetry and connecting with other poets has made me less inclined to get bogged down in reflecting upon my personal identity markers.
I suppose… Well… I suppose poetry has given me greater appreciation for those aspects of myself that are simply – human.