Growing up the child of a Jew-by-choice, everything about Judaism was a choice for us. For my mother, Judaism was a gift. She felt very proud to count herself among the Jewish people. She felt blessed to have the opportunity to do Jewish things.
There are many elements which make the High Holy Days a unique experience. Often, congregations swell to double or triple their usual size, the musical settings of even common liturgy are different, and some might alter their dress by wearing either traditionally all-white garments or more formal wear than they would sport on Shabbat. Some congregations even have unique garments to dress their Torah scrolls in white.
As we witness public figures dismantled by the revelation of ugly episodes from their pasts, we parents must distill these events and their aftermath for our children.
This week's Torah portion, Acharei Mot, "After the death" [of two of Aaron's sons], continues the focus on ritual purity that began earlier in Leviticus, and begins the section of the book known as the Holiness Code.