Both counting down and counting up. Heck, the little countdown widgets I had for graduating with my AA (in 2005), my BS (in 2007) and my MA (in 2008) are all still there on an ancient blog of mine, and they assure me that it’s been 10 years, 1 month, and 4 days since the AA; 8 years and 4 weeks since my BS; and 6 years and 7 months since my MA. (And, although I had no counter for it, the three-year anniversary of my dissertation defense – which I passed, thankyouverymuch – was just yesterday.
I’ve been counting up from my husband’s and my wedding day (255 days as of today!) as part of my daily gratitudes on my Facebook page.
And then, of course, there’s my beit din and mikveh date. The day I officially become a Jew.
Which, according to several online calculators, is 44 days from now. Or a month and 13 days, if you’d rather.
So. What’s left to do in those 44 days, apart from working on my class preps and getting my classes ready to go on the Monday of that week?
I will be doing more Judaism-related reading than I have been able to do since the first few months I started keeping this blog. I still have books that I started but didn’t finish on my list of “books to read.” My beginning Hebrew group is meeting once a week on Wednesdays for a chavurah to keep ourselves in practice until our teacher gets back from her summer trip to Israel. My “second” class will be re-forming at the beginning of August when the rabbi gets back from his summer trip to Israel, too, and we’ll be done with that the day before I go to the mikveh.
I need to figure out what I’m comfortable with, in terms of what happens on The Day Itself. The mikveh couldn’t schedule me any earlier than four p.m. and my beit din is at 8:30 a.m. at our temple. The two places where these things are happening are about 40 miles or so apart. I am assuming that my husband, who is taking the day off from work (he’s a better driver than me, especially when it’s concerning Places I Don’t Know How To Get To), will drive me in the morning, and we will probably then go to lunch. I will shower and scrub down before we go to the mikveh, and then he will drive me there as well. My best friend will be with us for all of this.
I will also be having hatafat dam brit at a time close to the day, but not on the day, but that’s not something I’m going to write about further because that’s just a little too private for me. Sorry. If you want to know what that’s like, Michael at Chicago Carless should be able to settle your mind with this post. I feel it’s better to do it beforehand (even though it may be only a pinprick, I know how long it takes my fingers to stop bleeding when I jab them for my diabetes blood sugar tests, and I’d rather not take the risk of having that happen at the mikveh).
My rabbi will be my official mikveh witness. My husband and best friend will also be there, behind a screen, for my privacy. Nobody will see me naked; I will have a robe or sheet or something to cover myself between the prep room and the actual mikveh itself. I am trying to memorize the prayers, but I don’t know which one my rabbi will want me to say for immersion. There’s a specific one for converts to say, you see. I already know the Shema and the Shehecheyanu, so it’s only the one for immersion that I have to memorize before then. I’ll be emailing him as soon as he’s back from Israel.
I will not be having a simcha (party or celebration) as such, on the day – another Jewish friend of mine will be at a conference across the country at that time, and has asked me to delay it until he can get back. So we may combine a Labor Day picnic and my simcha, which is fine with me, frankly.
My best friend and her parents, whose Seder I’ve now attended twice with my husband, purchased the tallit I wanted. It’s at her house and waiting for me, but I won’t see it until the day of the beit din, and I’m okay with that. Our temple does not require the mikveh, but I want it, and I don’t know if I’ll really feel like a full Jew until I’ve done it, although I will probably put on my tallit at the temple after the beit din makes their decision. (I have heard a rumor that something more happens after the signing of all the papers.) I’ve memorized the blessing for putting on a tallit, too: Baruch atah Adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav l’hitateif ba’tzitzit.
An Orthodox conversion is not in the cards for me, but after what I’ve gone through, this conversion should even be acceptable to a Conservative-stream synagogue. I hope. And frankly, today I realized that I don’t care what the Orthodox think. This article should explain why I think their claims to being the “original” stream of Judaism are pretty much bunkum: Orthodoxy’s Inconvenient Truths
In 44 days, I can say she’asani Israel and it will be not just spiritually accurate, but factually and legally accurate. I am looking forward to finally bringing my status as a Jew in line with my soul, which already is a Jew.
As for the husband, he has said he wants to go through HHDs once before converting, but he is going to talk to the rabbi about possibly going during the five days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. I am quite good with this, and I look forward to it. But I know that it’s up to him, and I’m not going to push.