By Mica Maltzman
When I was younger, around the time of my consecration, my vision of God was simple. Questions like “Who is God?” and “Where is God?” seemed silly, because the answer was literally right in front of me every Friday night on the bimah as I sat in services. God was the man with a cap of white hair, a feathery beard, and wire-rimmed glasses known as Rabbi Reiner. But after years of feeling confident in my image of God, I was shocked when my mother informed me that our rabbi was, in fact, not the divine being that we sang to and about in every prayer.
With this revelation, I began a nearly ten year-long journey in search of what God meant to me. Coming from a family that would describe themselves as “culturally Jewish,” God has never played a pivotal role in my Jewish identity. I’ve always considered my Judaism to consist mostly of waking up at 7:30 am on Sunday mornings for religious school, dressing in whites and khakis for Shabbat at my sleep-away camp, and spending weekends interacting with other Jewish teens at NFTY events. But ever since my image of Rabbi Reiner as God was shattered, I’ve never been sure where God fit into the picture.
While my mother shocked me with this hard truth, she also handed me a clean canvas for my perception of God that left infinite directions for me to go in. The Jewish spaces I found myself in quickly filled that canvas with colors and shapes.