I was told, before conversion, that becoming a Jew was like becoming an American citizen. You have the name and the identity, but all of the social stuff you need to know – the stuff that people grew up with – is stuff you always clunk through rather awkwardly. I still stumble on the prayers even after more than a year of singing them and hearing them. I still don’t always remember to kiss the mezuzah when I go out the front door or when I come in – my hands are full or I’m stressed and I forget. We haven’t done Shabbat or Havdalah consistently through most of the summer because it’s been hot and uncomfortable and making dinner at home has been overwhelming.
And yet. And yet.
I can’t bring myself to leave my home without my kippah firmly on my head and my Mogen David clearly showing. I still say “Baruch HaShem” in response to something where I used to say “Thank God.” I identify as a Jew and when I see things that harm other Jews, I feel umbrage and I get in people’s faces about it. And I never go to bed without saying the Shehecheanyau and the Sh’ma.
Even if the identity is new, it’s solid. The outside behaviors may not always be there, but I know that my Judaism is central to my life.
I miss community, but anxiety has been in the way for most of the spring and summer. I think I might be able to go back to Temple and to services without feeling completely conspicuous in another couple of weeks.
Perhaps one of the people I need to make amends to is myself, for beating myself up this past half year.