Today is the day. When morning comes, I’ll be at the beit din at 8:30 a.m. Before the sun goes down again, I will be a Jew in truth and not just in hope and preparation.
Things will not happen in the order they did for Michael at Chicago Carless. For him it was beit din, hatafat dam brit, and mikveh. I have had my hatafat dam brit, and it will be beit din then mikveh, but there will be some differences.
- It isn’t going to happen all in the same building. Michael’s day was all in the same place, but the closest mikveh to my Temple is about 40 miles away, and I can’t ask the beit din to drive that far.
- It’s separated by about seven hours. Beit din at 8:30 am until whenever, but mikveh’s not until four pm. So there will be a largish break.
- We will not be going back to the Temple after the mikveh (at least, I haven’t been told otherwise), so the recognition of me as a Jew (including holding the Torah for the first time, and putting on my tallit for the first time) will very likely happen before I go to the mikveh. But in my heart I know that I will not feel like it’s done until, well, it’s all done.
- I am shaky and nervous, but I did get to talk with my rabbi today after our last class was over with, and when I went to Hebrew class afterwards, it became as much a class about being a Jew as it did about reading Hebrew. Everyone was very kind to me.
- My best friend and my husband will be with me throughout, which will help.
- In the break, I will have a good meal and get a very, very thorough shower and scrub-down.
- I will be bringing my own towel and a pair of flip-flops to the mikveh to try to avoid any untoward accidents like slipping on the tile or their towels or robes not being big enough to cover me. (Both of which I am honestly really scared about.)
Rabbi told me what would happen at the mikveh. After I do the ritual bath-and-scrub thing, which will be quick since I will have done a quite thorough bathing before coming to the mikveh, I will go out into the room where the pool is and put my towel down and take my flip-flops off before I go down into the water. After I’m under the water to my shoulders, I will let Rabbi (who is my witness) know that I’m ready. Then I will immerse, lifting my feet off the bottom of the pool so that I’m floating free, and the Rabbi will announce whether it was kosher or not by saying so. After the first kosher immersion, I will say the prayer for immersion. After the second, I will say the Shema. And finally, after the third, I will say the Shehecheyanu. There will apparently be a kippah at poolside for me to put on, to recite each prayer.
Michael was very clear about how this works to get the whole body floating free for that split second that’s necessary. You point your hands in front of you, jump up a bit to give yourself some momentum, and pull your feet up when you go under so that you float free. I am going to try to avoid pulling my back any worse than it’s already been pulled (I have a knot in my lower back that won’t quit no matter how much I stretch).
I’m bringing my tallit clips to the beit din, and my new kippah with me to the mikveh, for wearing afterwards. It has a Mogen David on it that covers the entire diameter of the kippah, a white kippah with a blue star. I have been saving it for this occasion since I got it last year.
I will pack a very small bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, and comb, and my friend will bring the tallit with her. So I’m mostly ready. I’m just scared to death that I’ll do something foolish or say something wrong, or that my klutziness will kick in at the worst possible moment.
Yeah, a bit.
Because, you know, that’s not Jewish or anything…