Tag Archives: rabbi

We have an official date

(And by “we,” I mean me, my rabbi, the beit din, and the mikveh folks.)

On August 27 2015 (12 Elul 5775), eleven weeks from today and the day after our final conversion class is over, I will meet with the beit din in my rabbi’s office and then go to the mikveh in Los Angeles.

I am shaking and excited. The rabbi called this morning to confirm the date that the mikveh folks had already set for me. The beit din will be at his office in the morning, and the mikveh sometime in the afternoon (I’m trying to get the time moved up so that they’re not quite so far apart; right now it’s scheduled for 4 pm, which is a little late considering Los Angeles traffic patterns).

My rabbi will be my witness. My best friend and my husband can be there behind the screen to be witnesses as well. I’m not going to go into other details like hatafat dam brit (it will happen, but I won’t be writing about it – too personal for me for a public blog).

But it’s settled. I will be a full, official, authenticated Jew before the High Holy Days. Before the New Year.

I guess I’d better look at tallitot again.



Filed under Conversion Process

Friday Feature: What Are You Thankful For This Week?

It’s time for the Friday Feature again, where I ask you what good things happened to you this week. This is direct from Telushkin’s Book of Jewish Values, Day 69.

This is a regular Friday morning feature for this blog. Telushkin intended his book to provide topics for Shabbat discussions for at least a year, as each “week” is composed of six values (one per day) and then Shabbat, where he encourages us to talk about those values at our Shabbat dinners and services. I feel that the idea of gratitude is so central to Jewish practice that we should be reminded weekly of what we might be grateful for.

While I know that this might seem a little self-centered, I’m also doing this so that people will have some food for thought for their own Shabbat dinners about what they might be thankful for. I generally talk about the following areas of my life: work and career; family and friends; health; household; my conversion studies; miscellaneous life; and the wider world. Feel free to add or subtract as necessary for your own use.

I have a lot to be thankful for going into this coming week, and finishing this past week. For starters, as long as enrollment holds up and funding holds up, I’ll have classes in the fall. I’m also almost done with my preps for those classes, except for their exams, which I’ll be tweaking and polishing over the next week or so. Today I plan to work on editing the final groups of Powerpoints so I’m all set to go on Monday. 

There are a number of possible jobs that I can apply to for full-time work starting next fall, and that’s the other major thing on my plate work-wise. There’s one in Los Angeles that is especially tempting so I’m going to work on that next week. 

I presented a paper with my co-author at a conference a week ago today, and it was very well received. My partner and I then spent the weekend with friends in the Bay Area. We stayed at a friend’s house; she’s also a convert and we had a very meaningful Shabbat dinner with her. Afterwards, she gave me my very first Havdalah candle, and I was very touched that she would think of me that way. Overall, the weekend last weekend was a very good (and Jewish!) one, spent with people I care about. (Completely coincidentally, my co-author is also a Jew, although a secular one.)

My kids are healthy and happy, my partner is healthy and happy, and most of my friends are in a good place right now, which is good. 

My health is reasonably good at this point. I’m trying to pay more attention to what I put in my mouth (I tend to be a stress eater) and that’s helped me have fewer pains and problems. 

Getting to talk with the new rabbi was a really big deal for me. I’ve arranged for the services I want to attend for High Holy Days, so that’s also in the works, and that makes me really excited. Now that the stress of the preps is winding down, I’ll have more time to crack the Hebrew studies again. The rest of my study is pretty much “on hold” until formal classes start in the spring. My partner has also expressed some cautious interest in going to the classes and, perhaps, converting with me. (This makes me tremendously excited.) Right now, my conversion is largely focused on practice, as it should be.

In terms of miscellaneous life stuff and the wider world, I’m trying to focus always on the positive, while still being realistic about it. I had a bad bout with depression last week but it got better once I was able to throw myself back into prepping and working. Also, Robin Williams’ death, while a horrifying thing in itself, has raised public awareness of depression, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson’s disease in ways that I don’t think he would have expected it to. (And for his death: baruch dayan emet, and may his memory be a blessing.) I also admit that I’m meanly pleased that his ashes were scattered in San Francisco Bay the day after his death, and that the Westboro Baptist “Church” won’t have a chance to protest his funeral because it was done before they even began to plan to disrupt it. 

The situations in Gaza and Ferguson are upsetting, of course, but even there I can find things to be thankful for. I am thankful for all the community members in Ferguson who stood guard over stores to either stop looting that had begun or prevent it from happening in the first place. I am thankful for the cease-fire lasting as long as it did in Gaza, and hopeful that we will soon see a longer truce. And I pray, every day, for the victims in both of those places and hope for a speedy resolution to the tensions. 

And as long as I’m mentioning Ferguson, here’s some specifically Jewish food for thought. Why Jews Should Care About Ferguson

Shabbat Shalom, everyone. I’ll try to update again on Sunday. 

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Filed under Conversion Process, Day-to-Day, Israel

On a happier note… met with the new rabbi

I feel much more comfortable with this rabbi than the previous one.

For starters, he was patient with me and understood the issues I was bringing to the table. He also invited me to attend High Holy Days as a guest. (Now I just need to check with the partner and clear September 25th from work calendars.)

They use the same mikveh as the other temple does, so no change there. But my best friend can be my witness if I want and if she’s okay with it. This is a huge relief for me.

I love the sanctuary of this new temple – they apparently leveled the old building and built a brand-new one a while back.

If I go through the 18-week classes in the spring and then convert, I get a complimentary one-year membership in the temple. And my partner can attend the classes with me if he wants to. Also, they can help people with the cost of the class if they have financial issues. 

The rabbi also said that I seem to already have a lot of basic knowledge but that if I want to take the free Taste of Judaism class in November I’m welcome to do so. I am leaning that direction.


Filed under Conversion Process, Judaism

Reconsidering the Rabbi

5 Tamuz 5774

So “rabbi” means “teacher.” But “teacher” has a lot of meanings.

I don’t think the rabbi I talked to is going to be the right rabbi for me after all. There are two reasons for this. First, even though the temple seems to be a very liberal temple, the rabbi seems to be more conservative than the temple. I feel like I make him uncomfortable when I ask him questions, and that’s not going to be helpful in my conversion process. Mainly, those questions are about the queer aspects of my conversion; I recently asked him if he’d followed up on something that is important to me about halacha, and he said “Oh. Nope!” in a very lighthearted manner. I felt like I had been given the brush-off. Second, I got to witness his ability to teach things that are not Torah the other night. Specifically, I went to what I thought was a beginning-Hebrew class he was giving at the temple the other night.

Although I was impressed with his Torah teachings back on Shavuot, and I’ve seen him lead temple services and he’s quite good at that, I have to admit that for this topic, he’s not a very good teacher. It was actually a very advanced class, but it wasn’t described that way in the temple newsletter. The six or seven people who were there, who apparently had taken the first half of the class sometime in the spring, were all frustrated with how fast he wanted to go (and as a teacher myself, I could see that his lesson plan was expecting quite a lot from these students, who are regular people who have full-time jobs and families). I could see, very quickly, that he covers impatience with laughter and tries to pretend it’s not that bad, but even after he was asked to slow down, he couldn’t seem to do so. This seemed to stem from two problems: first, he kept referring to when he was a rabbinical student and how they studied then, and second, he kept making references to a lot of Jewish-culture things that I (at least) could not be expected to know.

Okay, the problem is: none of us are rabbinical students. Expecting people to have that kind of focused time available to study is really kind of unrealistic. The other problem is: he hasn’t just done this in this class. There have been other times where he has said a word or a phrase in Hebrew and assumed that everyone knew what he was talking about. And there have been other times where he’s gone so fast in worship services that I have completely lost my place in the siddur.

This feels like a minefield, and I’ve been carrying it around with me for a while now, but this class this week just crystallized it for me. He may be a very good rabbi at leading worship, and he may be a wonderful Torah scholar. But he doesn’t seem very patient, and I don’t feel like I’m taken seriously sometimes, which to me is a problem. So I don’t feel like he’s the right guide for me for my conversion.

This has upset me, as I’m sure folks can understand. I wanted this to go smoothly. But I don’t think I should ignore this kind of mismatch.  I think I figure that you should feel comfortable with your rabbi, and I do not feel comfortable with this rabbi. It’s not that he’s a bad guy; it’s just that on a fundamental level, we don’t click the way I thought we would. That’s nobody’s fault; it’s just the way that it is.

My best friend heard about all this from me last night, and called her rabbi (who lives in another city) to ask him for recommendations for rabbis local to me. So we’ll see where that goes.

I have to remember that you do not have to convert where you attend. I can continue attending shul at the temple down the street from me, and study with a different rabbi. That is a possibility. And I may find that I need to go to a more liberal temple with a more liberal rabbi, anyway.




Filed under Conversion Process, Judaism

Now Comes The Resident Stranger: The First Meeting With The Rabbi

How perfect is it that these verses appear in this week’s Torah portion (Parashat Sh’lach):

15 There shall be one law for you and for the resident stranger; it shall be a law for all time throughout the ages. You and the stranger shall be alike before the Lord; 

16 the same ritual and the same rule shall apply to you and to the stranger who resides among you.

Stranger. Ger, in Hebrew. The stranger who resides among you.

Today, I spoke with the rabbi at the temple down the street, where I’ve been attending, for two hours. We talked about my religious background, my struggles with G-d, my struggles with religion, my current partnership and my ex-partners, my children and my family. We talked about the fact that I’m in an interfaith, GLBT relationship. We talked about my partner and about the spiritual helicopters. We talked about my difficult relationship with my abusive mother. We talked about Kabbalah. We talked about music and ritual and learning and argument. We talked about tikkun olam.

At the end of that two-hour meeting, I was accepted as a candidate for conversion under his instruction and guidance. His estimate is that it will be about a year. He’s still putting together the conversion class curriculum and hopes to start classes in the late summer for me and the other conversion candidates he’s got learning from him.

I have waited for 43 years. Another year will not be a problem. I was originally going to type “another year won’t make a difference,” but that would be a mistake. This coming year is going to make an enormous difference.

He also approved of the name that I chose. I’m going to keep that to myself for now, but when the time comes, you’ll all know it.

And yes, I said a shehecheyanu when I recovered from the shock.

I talked with my best friend about it over lunch, and just now, walking back to my apartment. I asked her if it was going to change things, now that I’ve been accepted as a candidate for conversion. She asked me why it would. I said, “Because my Yiddishkeit is probably going to get more overt.” She said she would not have a problem with that, so I don’t have to, either.

My partner texted me to find out how it went, and whether I was accepted. When I told him it went great and yes, I was, he responded back that he was happy for me. Even if he will never be a Jew, he supports me in this. It means more than I can put into words.

So now I suppose I should say my rabbi and my temple. My congregation and my shul. My faith and my practice.

My Yiddishkeit.

Because I will not be a stranger for long.


Filed under Conversion Process, Identities, Jewish Practices, Judaism

A Trip to the Fairfax District, and Shabbat/Oneg Friday Night

10 Sivan 5774

Friday morning and early afternoon, my Jewish best friend took me to the Fairfax district so we could do some Jewish-specific shopping. The night before we had identified a few shops we wanted to go to, including a Jewish thrift store.

I admit that even with a plan, I was kind of overwhelmed. Despite living in the Los Angeles area now, I grew up in a suburb. Crossing the border into Los Angeles makes my mind go offline as I can’t visualize the map, and in my head “Los Angeles” translates into “large undefined area that I can’t process.” It’s a thing. But this is why my partner or my friends drive when we go into LA instead of me. I’d get lost in a heartbeat, even with a GPS trying to tell me the way. As it was, we had some trouble getting to Fairfax because of unexpected traffic, but we did arrive where we wanted to be eventually.

I wore the borrowed cotton kippah that my temple had let me take home on Shavuot last week, and I found out that cotton cloth kippot are generally made of broadcloth. Broadcloth is so tightly woven that it does not breathe at all. So combine black color + broadcloth + Los Angeles midday sunshine and you get “very hot very fast,” so I was eager to find a few crocheted/knitted kippot that would breathe better. (Not to mention that that borrowed kippah was enormous – it covered as much of my head as a baseball cap would.

My friend drew my attention to the street when we got to the thrift store, our first stop. Up and down the street were two or three small kosher delis, a kosher butcher, a couple of stores that were obviously Judaica, a jewelry store, and a social-service agency that was aimed at Jews by the signage. Just standing on the sidewalk, I noticed that at least half the men walking by us were kippah-clad. Several had tallit katan showing under their t-shirts, as well. It felt like I’d come home – or as much like home as an urban area will ever feel to suburban-minded me.

We drove to a more upscale store after going to the thrift shop, and then a new kosher deli – Wexler’s – that opened up in the Grand Marketplace area of town for our lunch and that a friend of my friend’s had said was better than Langer’s (which she thinks is better than Canter’s, a deli that is known in LA for being “the best”). She wanted to confirm that Wexler’s really was better than either of those – and it turns out, it is. Go to Wexler’s if you’re in Los Angeles. Their pastrami is amazing!

I came home with two new kippot, a Mogen David, a chain for the Mogen David, and a few kippot clips. I’d originally intended one of the kippot for this Sunday’s West Hollywood Pride, among other queer-themed events where I want to be an obvious queer Jew-ish person, but I’m so tired tonight that I’m bidding my partner a good time and staying home tomorrow. (I’ll still wear the multicolor kippah tomorrow, though – it looks  something like the one on this page. Eventually I want to get one like this.) I put on the white-and-blue one as soon as I paid for it, and my head was noticeably cooler after that, although it kept sliding down the back of my head even with the clips, which frustrated me a bit. It looks pretty much like this one on this page. (I’m also looking forward to the sage-green-and-white one that a friend of mine in the South crocheted for me when she found out that I’m converting; that should be arriving sometime next week, I hope. I’m thrilled about that one too.)

The Mogen David and its chain were from the thrift store. My best friend bought me the star, and I bought the chain. She commented that it’s important that you not buy your own first Mogen David, and the shopkeeper’s face got a look on it that I couldn’t parse. My best friend later told me “That was the look of ‘Oh, this is a REALLY important purchase.'” I had thought it was disapproval – I’m glad I was wrong.

The Mogen David’s not especially big, but it’s bright silver and pretty obvious if I’m wearing anything dark behind it (which I do, most of the time). I keep catching myself playing with it, and grinning like a loon. This is what it looks like against my T-shirt:

2014-06-06 at 15.24.22

It’s about 3/4″ (2 cm) across from the tip of one star point to the one across from it. It’s very simple but it also makes the statement: Yes, I’m Jew-ish.

And after lunch, I got my very first anti-Semitic slur as we left the district on our way back to the car after lunch. The sidewalk was a little crowded, and a young woman simply shoved past me and said “fat k-ke!” as she did so. My friend was livid, but hey, apparently the bigots haven’t forgotten the classics. I was actually just annoyed. I guess I’ve taken enough abuse for being queer that being abused for being Jew-ish was just more of the same nonsense to me. Still, it’s a first that I won’t be saying the shehecheyanu for (although I did say that for the purchase of the Mogen David and of the kippot).

We intended to make Shabbat dinner before going to services but we left it too late; between Friday traffic and being tired, we bought but did not prepare any food for Shabbat dinner. Oh, well. I now have a good kosher red wine to use for a few future Shabbat dinners, at least. Instead, we had a snack and then walked over to temple to participate in Friday night services. And this time we actually got a minyan plus one extra! I noticed that the convert couple I met at Shavuot (husband is moving towards conversion; wife is born Jewish) was there and that the rabbi counted them both as part of the minyan, so I need to find out how he determines that when we have our appointment on Tuesday.

My friend knew most of the melodies that the rabbi used, but there were a few differences from her Reform services. The service was once again lots of singing and pretty informal; the oneg was fun even though I couldn’t eat anything (again – I need to bring a gluten-free contribution next time I think). The convert couple and I exchanged contact information and the husband said he would send me the rabbi’s booklist. When the rabbi overheard that, he said “Oh, this guy’s probably read all the books – I’ll have to think of something different for him to do.” (I’m still not sure if he was kidding or not.)

My friend will be coming over on Tuesday to go to my first appointment with the rabbi with me. I’m looking forward to it instead of dreading it, so I think that’s a good sign, right?

Next weekend both my partners and I are traveling on Shabbat so I won’t be able to observe it, but I plan to get right back to observance the week after. I’m sure HaShem will understand; I’ll still pray, but it’ll be alone instead of with a group this coming weekend.

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Filed under Conversion Process, Jewish Practices, Judaism

My first Torah study session

So I went to the Tikkun Leil Shavuot at my temple tonight. I found out when I got home that the loaner kippah I wore is WAY too big for my head – ack. But that’s vanity, and minor anyway.

The lessons were interesting. First, of course, we studied the giving of Torah – and the 10 “Commandments,” which (we counted) are more like 17 declarative statements and four promises, depending on whether you count each separate “covet” commandment as a new commandment, but anyway. That part of the lesson dealt with two things – what are the declarations? and what is this thing about Moses going back and forth between the people and G-d?

The first part I don’t think I need to go into detail about, partly because we weren’t allowed to take notes and my memory is not wonderful. The upshot here included a fable that the rabbi told about Moses having to justify why humans needed the Torah and angels did not. It was pretty good, actually. I wish I had a copy.

The second part had several interpretations: Moses needed to have power over the people to be an effective leader; G-d only wanted to deal with Moses; Moses was acting as a buffer/ambassador between G-d and the people much as the Americans were acting as diplomatic go-betweens at the Camp David talks between Egypt and Israel; but the one the rabbi presented us with was interesting. Here it is:

We only pray if we’re actually speaking – whether under our breath or not doesn’t matter. Our mouths have to move for it to be prayer. It has to be deliberate action. What we think is between ourselves and ourselves – our own stuff, in our own heads. It belongs to us and it doesn’t have consequences until and unless we act upon it. Essentially, by making Moses a go-between, G-d was saying “Yeah, you all know I could read your minds – but I won’t. You get the privacy of your own skulls and minds.”

I REALLY like that interpretation, and I said so. The way I was raised? G-d hears everything you think, too.

Another point of the lesson was – human beings are not perfect. We are not angels. And we are not expected to be angels. We are expected to do our best and be honest about it.

Then we got into an interesting Babylonian Talmud reading. I’m not sure how to name it (because I can’t find what I thought was the name of the tractate it’s from) but apparently it’s Shabbath 33b through 34a. This tractate is long, and I’ll come back to it in future posts I’m sure, but the upshot is: two rabbis, a father (who spoke against Rome) and a son, paid for it for 13 years of being in hiding from the Roman emperor, who had sentenced the father to death. Their being in hiding is a little weird, and I’ll talk about that in depth in another post after I’ve slept on this, but when they emerged, they were furious that the regular people were not doing what they had been doing for the last decade-plus: studying Torah. It took a while for them to be convinced that it was okay that not everyone was studying Torah in the depth that they had been (because they were in hiding – what else was there to do?). They were judgmental and self-righteous until they realized that they had judged unfairly – and it took a while.

Now the interesting thing here is that these were tied back to the original Torah study, which I guess is the point. Yes, study Torah – but yes, do the real work of life, too. One of the minyan present talked about a poster he’d seen in Israel which directly challenged the Orthodox haredi (who rarely have jobs outside of Torah study, apparently) that listed all the important rabbis and their worldly professions (vintner, doctor, cobbler, etc.), making the point that they were not just rabbis – they did their Torah study in their spare time.

After the study was over, I got to chat with E, one of the other gentlemen there, who is also converting. He encouraged me to come to daytime services when there were going to be a lot more people – and he cautioned me that when and if I do, to be sure to borrow one of the tallitot that the temple provides for people to wear during services, because that’s expected. He also said that he couldn’t find a non-Orthodox mikveh anywhere in this area, which makes me sad and stressed, but that he wasn’t in a hurry to take his dip, either. I am, but that’s me.

When I first got there, I introduced myself to the rabbi and the one other person who was there, and said “I hope you don’t mind, but I’m borrowing one of your kippot.” He said “Eh. Take it home, it’s fine.” So I did. And I felt conspicuous and completely right at the same time.

I like this temple. I hope that the rabbi and I click as well as we seem to have, tonight, when I talk to him on Tuesday.


Filed under Conversion Process, Judaism

My Jewish Reading List: Books I’ve Read So Far, and Questions I Want To Ask

I’ve seen other Jews-by-choice make lists of the books they’ve read or are reading as part of their conversion process, and it occurs to me that it’d be a good idea if I had a booklist ready when I met with the rabbi next week – especially since there’s a very good chance I’ll actually meet him tonight at Shavuot services. So, here’s what I’ve read so far.

  1. Jewish Literacy, by Joseph Telushkin
  2. What is a Jew?, by Morris Kertzer and Lawrence Hoffman
  3. Becoming Jewish (A Handbook for Conversion), by Ronald H. Isaacs
  4. Why Be Jewish?, by David J. Wolpe
  5. The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin
  6. To Life! by Harold S. Kushner
  7. Living a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant
  8. The Everything Judaism Book, by Richard Bank (this is not an especially good reference, in my opinion, for converts)
  9. Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends, by Anita Diamant (this is an excellent book for converts!)
  10. Read Hebrew in Just 90 Minutes, by Chaim Conway (still working my way through this one)

Other books that are not about Judaism and conversion specifically, but which have informed my understanding of Jewish life and practices because they have characters or important people who are either ethnically or religiously Jewish (or both), include:

  1. The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
  2. In The Presence of Mine Enemies, by Harry Turtledove
  3. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, by Joanne Greenberg
  4. Just about any kids’ book by Judy Blume
  5. Any book that has a Jewish character in it

Other things that have informed my understanding of Judaism and conversion include several really excellent blogs on the topic, including Coffee Shop Rabbi and Chicago Carless.

There are other sources, mainly people, that have informed this journey as well.

I also know that if I’m going to meet with the rabbi, I should have some questions ready for him. So here’s a few that I’ve got lined up so far:

  1. What do you feel are the main requirements for a person to be a sincere convert to Judaism?
  2. What is your philosophy about converts and conversion?
  3. What is your understanding of tikkun olam?
  4. I will be in an interfaith, gay relationship. Does this pose problems for you, either personally or professionally, with taking me on as a conversion candidate?

Because, you know, I’m not asking any really risky questions or anything, right?



Filed under Conversion Process, GLBT, Identities, Judaism

It’s Erev Shavuot – Chag Sameach!

5 Sivan 5774

(Literally, “Good Festival” in Hebrew – and according to JewFaq.org, it’s one of the three times during the year when it’s most appropriate to say that – Pesach and Sukkot being the other two.)

I’m done with my grading for the spring classes (thanks to some help) and today I file grades, and I’ll be done with that mishegaas finally. From now on I just have to keep up with the online intersession class. This also means I can start writing again; something I’ve been putting off due to the whirlwind of classes and students.

I’ve heard back from the rabbi and we’ve finalized a date for a first meeting – next Tuesday, June 10th (12 Sivan). I’m excited and nervous, and making lists of the books I’ve read and trying to come up with good questions to ask. Anyone have suggestions?

My partner linked something on my Facebook wall about Shavuot this morning, and wished me a happy Shavuot when he got to work and sent me his usual “I made it, I’m safe, love you, have a good day” text. My best friend was over yesterday and she brought me a Mogen David to wear until we make it to the Fairfax district on Friday morning, as well as giving me a gorgeous set of tallit clips that, she says, “ought to be used.” (Yes, I am verklempt.)

Tonight I’m going to be at temple, studying Torah until I get tired, and then I’ll come home and sleep the sleep of the exhausted. But in between now and then, I’m going to make at least one loaf of my grain-free challah so I can take it with me to the study session at temple (because I should provide the noshes I can eat instead of expecting anyone else to, that’s why), and plan out cooking for tomorrow and Thursday. My partner, unfortunately, works the swing shift both days so he won’t be home to have dinner, but there will be leftovers.

Apart from food, I want to talk a little bit about what this day means to me as a Jew-by-choice. Shavuot is one of those smaller holidays, from what I’ve read, and many secular Jews who still celebrate Pesach and Yom Kippur don’t observe it. I think that’s a little sad, considering it’s the day we observe the Jewish people’s receipt of the Torah. But it’s also a harvest festival – the bringing of the first fruits – and a celebration of what Jews do best: study and learn.

There are reasons that children are often introduced to Torah study on Shavuot, and why (from what I understand) graduation from Hebrew school and confirmation ceremonies happen on or near Shavuot. So it’s not just a celebration of the harvest or the day that Jews became the Chosen People. It’s also a celebration of the ongoing need to study and learn. Although there are no specific mitzvot associated with Shavuot, I think an argument could be made that the mitzvot associated with Torah study are central to it.

As an academic, I think that Shavuot may hold a special place in my heart as I develop as a Jew. In a month or so I’ll celebrate the second anniversary of my dissertation defense, and that’s a big deal to me. I teach and learn for a living as a college professor (adjunct or not, I’m still a professor). Shavuot, for me, may become the day that I reaffirm my commitment not just to the Torah and to the Jewish people (although that’s a big part of it) but to studying, teaching, and learning as my life-work.

So have a blintz and pick up your Torah, and chag sameach to you all.

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Filed under Conversion Process, Jewish Practices

Getting My Feet Wet: The Outcome

It turned out to be a very small service. They were one person short of a minyan (if I had already been Jewish in fact and not just in wish, they would have had one). Lots of singing. Good conversation afterwards. Nobody blinked at me being queer. Nobody blinked at pretty much anything. I felt accepted.

Turns out the reason the rabbi hasn’t responded yet is that he’s on vacation this week and moving house. Hey, I’m not going to press him for an answer in that case! I was able to talk to the rabbinical student who ran the service and to one of the older members afterwards. I only felt awkward once, when they realized they didn’t have a minyan because I wasn’t Jewish (yet). And they still offered me wine or grape juice for the kiddush blessing anyway, which shocked me (I didn’t know a non-Jew could be included in that).

One of the women had come to say the Kaddish for her late father, but because there was no minyan, that couldn’t happen. But when I said during the social time after the service was over that I wished I had been able to give them their minyan, but that I wasn’t Jewish, two people said “Yet.” When I explained about my allergies, they said “Then why not make potato-flour challah and say the hamotzi over it? I don’t think HaShem would have any problem with that.”

Yes, it was a good experience. Yes, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be back. And I look good in a kippah!

(For those who are confused; my kids and I and my ex had a communication malfunction; they’re going to be here next weekend, not this weekend, which is why I was able to go tonight.)

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Filed under Conversion Process, Judaism