I am probably one of the only Jews in Ecuador

View out from Peguche Waterfall in Otavalo.

I went to church today. Christian Evangelica. I don’t know why but I started to cry. The musicians were quite talented but I felt the tears well up in my eyes and I didn’t know what to do. I’m sure others thought I was crying because of the powerful woman’s voice singing in Spanish about the power of Christ. But trust me I was not.

I was crying because as they were singing I made my own sacred space. I made it quietly and no one could tell it was there. But I felt it. I was surrounded by my own understanding of my different religion. My host mother and friend joke that it’s all the same G-d. But in that moment of self made sacred space it was my G-d. The one who was there at my bat-mitzvah, at summer camp, in every moment of loneliness and togetherness. It was the same G-d that I can now remember praying to in Hebrew during a Sunday morning Christian of Evangelica service in Ecuador. But most of all it was the G-d that I could always find in everything surrounding me. I felt this truly rhythmic appreciation for everything around me and the ability to have the free will and privilege of feeling the infinitely large and infinitely small power that so many religions refer to as G-d.

I felt at the service that even though we are technically praying to the same G-d it didn’t feel like it. In services at home it doesn’t feel that we assume what G-d does. It doesn’t talk about how G-d wants us to spread he world. It felt like a sales pitch that needed to be broadcasted in the church.

The prayer S’fatai Tiftach comes to mind. It comes from a humble unassuming position. We ask that gd opens our lips to hear our prayer. At church they passionately talk about how G-d has already forgiven us of every sin. I don’t think that we are worthy of that. My G-d holds those accountable for their mistakes and in the spirit of high holy days G-d holds us accountable to maintain the humble ability to apologize and make right what has been wronged.

My stepsister mentioned to me “I feel more connected to those who have the same relationship to faith as I do.” I have found this to be true for me as well. It has been true as Elizabeth and I have grown up differently and yet we are both great friends and connect on many levels despite the different religious views and political views. But because we have a similar relationship to religion we have conversations that last hours on the subject.

This is a special time to be Jewish. We are in the midst of high holy days and I have never felt so connected to my religion. While I have not met a single Jew here I feel more devoted and connected than ever before. My understanding of the sentiment has only increased as I explain it to those around me in English and Spanish. I realize that I actually like that Judaism does not involve ‘saving’ people or forgiving them. And articulates the. importance of owning up to our errors during this time. I think that it is a way of acknowledging gd’s gift of free will. We had the free will to make the error we have the independence to realize the error and we have the ability to change and correct.