Sunday, June 28, 2009


We all have choices.
I have made many choices in my life.
The choice to convert was not made quickly or in haste. It was a process that was mindful and heartfelt. Yet despite all the preparation, prayer, and support sometimes it still surprises how much things have changed.

This choice changed everything........

This past week I got the invitation to my high school 30th Reunion. 30 years ago I was living in a very different place. That place in a different state...geographical...that state, psychological...that state, metaphoric.

oh yea....the date of the reunion....Friday September 18th....Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah ! As far as I remember there was not a single Jewish person in my entire high school class, actually to be honest there were only two African Americans in my class of 79'....So much has changed...but basically somethings remain the same. My home town has a few more families of color then when I lived there...but ultimately it is mostly a blue collar working class white catholic place. When I sent my regrets via the facebook page set up for the event the answer I received was a surprise.

Dear Reunion Committee,

I received the reunion invite...It looks like it will be a lovely time. Unfortunately although I had planned on attending, when I went to put the date in my blackberry, I saw that it is on Rosh Hashanah, a very major Jewish holiday. This leaves me out...I know it isn't an issue for more than likely the majority of our class but it is where my life has taken me.......thanks for all your hard work...and I hope all have fun!


I completely understand and I am sorry. You must follow your heart.

I have made many choices.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Catholic Funeral Mass and Kabbalat Shabbat at the Beach....A Full Day!

Shabbat Hamalka prepares her waves swell, storms depart, and our hearts open to the salt, the joy and the sand......

Given an 8:10 pm candle lighting time....our synagogue arranged to have our gathering at the beach. We aren't that far and we could have services and get back before the actual I guess it was actually a pre Shabbat, but it was glorious!

It has been raining I think for weeks.... this was the only day with sun!

This was a very welcomed and needed experience for me. Earlier in the day I was confronted with one of those classic convert dilemmas. A Catholic funeral. I had known about it for a number of days. Earlier in the week I was informed about the death of the husband of a woman I have known. This person was very kind to me throughout some very difficult and dark times at the end of my first marriage. I would be hard pressed to call her a good friend, but in that time, in that place she was exceedingly kind. Now her husband is dead, unexpectedly, and they are only having a full wake, no gathering etc. After much thought,meditation and I guess even prayer, I decided to go. To say I felt uncomfortable doesn't describe the odd emotions. I felt awkward...I sat in the back, didn't participate in prayers or songs,and didn't kneel . When it felt most difficult I recited the Shama to myself. It was like a time travel dream. I was there but I was different. I am Jewish and felt it in every fiber of my being. I am glad I went to show my was the kind thing to do...and it was another opportunity to experience my feeling totally Jewish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Two Shot at Holocaust Museum in D.C.
The New York Times

Early reports indicated that those who were wounded were an armed man who entered the museum and began shooting and a security guard who returned fire. Their conditions were not immediately known, although witnesses told television reporters that the security guard was on the ground and bleeding profusely afterward.
A Washington television station reported that one wounded man was seen being wheeled into the emergency room of George Washington University Hospital, not far away, and was handcuffed to a gurney. The wounded guard was taken to the same hospital.
“One or more” security guards returned fire moments after the gunman began shooting, Sgt. David Schlosser of the United States Park Police said in a sidewalk news conference shortly before 2 p.m. Sergeant Schlosser said he understood that only the gunman and one security guard were wounded.
Preliminary reports indicated that the gunman was carrying either a rifle or shotgun and possibly a pistol, and that he fired five or six shots before being wounded. There were no clues to his motive or identity.
Opened in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is situated near the National Mall and the Potomac River. Since its dedication, it has had early 30 million visitors, including more than 8 million school children and 85 heads of state, the museum says on its Web site.
Like all public buildings in the capital, the museum has heavy security, with visitors required to pass through metal detectors. But someone determined to enter a building with a firearm can sometimes do so. In July 1998, a crazed gunman killed two police officers and wounded a tourist in the Capitol.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Patchwork Project Post

I am happy to inform you that I am part of a wonderful endeavor started by Akira of the Zinc Plate Press Blog

Below is the posting from the Zinc Plate Blog about the Patchwork Project:

"Zinc Plate Press is embarking on project to captures the thoughts, feelings, and ideas of Jewish converts. As a convert, I chose to become a Jew and lead a Jewish life, yet, I have also internalized a two-ness about my authenticity as a Jew. The Talmud talks about converts on a higher spiritual plain because we chose Judaism. It sure doesn’t feel this way, unless we are held to every standard that born Jews are not. If we are Jewish, we should also have the choice to transgress as Jews. We are human afterall. Sometimes I feel I’m trying to mediate a looming divorce between parents. “Look at me, look at me,” anything to distract Judaism from itself.
I always get the “What-a-nice-story” responses like I’m showing an adult my finger paintings. Converts couldn’t possibly understand the authentic experiences of being Jewish. We are talked about while we are in the room, we are advocated for like powerless beings, and decisions are made about the authenticity of our Jewishness, which can shake the foundations of our lives.
In a Jewish Week column, Rabbis Searching For Common Ground, a forum was convened to address the fragmented state of Judaism. Here is a letter I wrote:
Rabbis Searching For Common Ground exemplifies the old model of thinking among rabbis to fix the fragmented state of Judaism. What I found particularly offensive was when this panel discussed the plight of the convert. It’s as if we have no voice, we are spoken about in the 3rd person, and decisions are pondered about our lives like we are a burden to Judaism. It is time for such forums to include actual Jews-by-choice in the discussion. The forum was supposed to address the fragmented state of Judaism, yet not going into the community and actually asking Jews-by-choice to participate is very telling about how out-of-touch Jewish leaders are in assessing the needs of the diverse Jewish community. These “common ground” forums always end with the same comfortable assumptions and divisions.
It is time to hear from one of the silent minorities within Judaism. It is time to hear, in our own words, what we believe we contribute to Judaism and its future. It is time to organize around common experiences and speak for ourselves. Let’s decide our own history as Jews and plant the seeds for future Jews-by-Choice to nurture.
Zinc Plate Press hopes to capture what it really means to live as a Jewish convert in a religion that is deeply fragmented."

Please check out the Zinc Plate Press is a very interesting and eclectic mix of photos, commentary and insight.

Opps Politics....

Ok... I now remember why I don't share my politics.

I love being Jewish. I am climbing the proverbial ladder of observance and revel in each new activity I engage in. I also cherish those activities I feel I have mastered, starting to formulate my own Jewish memories. I attend Saturday services regularly, and Fridays twice a month.

This past Saturday was a full day, a baby naming, a Bat Mitzvah and an Auf Ruf...but then came the sermon. (do we call it a sermon?) It was political. Politics appear difficult and full of quicksand to me…The Middle East sands shift and blow and can engulf at a moments notice….I do not pretend to know the answers to the complicated emotionally charged problems in the world. My husband often calls me naive. If wanting there to peace for all in the world is naive, so be it.

I am keenly aware of the evil, the suffering and the pain. I am aware of the long history... I know peace is a hard road…..What do you suggest?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Proud To Be an American

For the first time in many many years,
I am proud to be an American.Thank you President Obama

"Obama at Buchenwald: a ‘rebuke’ to deniers
June 5, 2009
BERLIN (JTA) -- President Barack Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp site, calling it "the ultimate rebuke" to Holocaust deniers.
Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist who was a Buchenwald inmate, on the tour on Friday, a day after Obama called on the Muslim world to reject Holocaust denial.
"To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened," Obama said at a news conference at the gates of the camp. Such statements are "ignorant, baseless and hateful."
For more than an hour, Obama and Merkel walked the grounds of Buchenwald. Out of sight of cameras, they entered the crematorium building where camp victims were turned to ash. They placed white roses, a symbol of German resistance, at several sites.
Obama said he had wanted to visit this particular camp because his great-uncle, Charles Payne, was among the U.S. soldiers in Infantry Division 89 who liberated the Buchenwald sub-camp of Ohrdruf in early April 1945. Ohrdruf was the first camp liberated by American soldiers. The gruesome sights of burned victims haunted his uncle for a long time, Obama said.
"It is understandable that someone who witnessed what had taken place here would be in a state of shock," he said.
Wiesel, a Nobel Peace laureate whose father died at Buchenwald, said, "Memory must bring people together rather than set them apart."
After visiting Germany, Obama was scheduled to fly to France and take part in ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy.
In an interview with NBC, Obama expressed frustration with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who questions the story of the Holocaust.
“He should make his own visit," Obama said in Germany. "I have no patience for people who would deny history. And the history of the Holocaust is not something speculative."
Should he visit Germany, Ahmadinejad could face arrest as a Holocaust denier."

here is a link to the speech made in Egypt...see it for your self and make up your own mind about it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Hate Gefilte Fish

I receive emails from the "My Jewish Learning" today they have a special on the food I love to hate.......Gefilte Fish. This stuff shows up every where in my little Jewish world...Friday dinners, holidays, everywhere! Below is an excerpt from the My Jewish Learning article....

"Gefilte fish is most associated with the Sabbath meal, as eating fish on Shabbat has been a Jewish custom since the talmudic period. Fish, the ancient sages trumpeted, was an aphrodisiac. They believed the intoxicating odor on the Sabbath table would encourage couples to "be fruitful and multiply"--which in Jewish tradition is encouraged on Friday night.The Hebrew word for fish, dag, also corresponds to the numerical value seven, which reflects God's commandment, "Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord?"
Gefilte fish an aphrodisiac?
This lovely eastern European concoction smells so bad to me that I can barely be at the same table with it. Yet this culinary delicacy is another one of those "True Jew" tests. I make no spectacle of my self, I just choose not to eat it when it is around. But it always brings on a comment...
(not an actual conversation but a composite of many similar type moments)
"what no fish?"
"no not today"
now a conversation about me, with me right in the room.....
"you know she wasn't born a Jew"
"ohhhhhhh"...with nodding heads........
My turn to make dinner!!!!!!....a kosher Italian feast!...or a Kosher Indian extravaganza!
what ever I make NO Gefilte Fish
P.S. I also hate chopped liver

Dunking Rachael

Love, Faith and Life