Created “b’tselem elohim”

Jewish tradition teaches that all people were created b’tselem elohim (literally: in the image of God). My Jewishness is rooted in this notion of valuing the humanity of each being, and Jewish values teach me that no one person is superior to the other. The Jewish lesson on “enoughness” informs how I view and treat others and reminds me how to view and treat myself.

Yet, with Jewish and South African heritage, I grew up learning about genocide and apartheid made possible only by deep ignorance and dehumanization. This history and the many other past and ongoing cruelties at once challenge my faith and invite me to make good on my responsibility as a Jewish person to pursue justice and leave the world better than I found it.

My Judaism is ever-evolving, informed by stories and text, experienced through holidays and community involvement, and felt most deeply through rich discussion and song. It is both unifying and othering, communal and personal.

For me, to be Jewish is to be expansive: Jewish celebrations are often not complete without acknowledgment of our or others’ suffering. We practice holding the both/and, embodying many different things all at the same time, acknowledging that there is room for all of it, and all people, who were all created in the image of God.

by Kesha Spoor