Thursday, May 2, 2013

Living Jewish...Being Jewish

April of 2008 I married my beloved husband. What a journey...sometimes when I think about it, it feels almost like some sort of odd reality TV show: "Living Jewish...Being Jewish."

 In the beginning the emphasis was on soaking up all that I could. I attended every lecture and class. I read multiple books at once and went to every service that I could possibly attend. In those early days, I was obsessed with "doing Jewish." I tried to "pass" (be taken as a born Jew by other born Jews) and spent much time observing and learning not only the obvious, Torah, Kashrut, Hebrew ..etc..but also the complex social/community structure around me. I dived deep into the pool hoping that acceptance and belonging would soon follow. I think I have been fortunate in comparison to some of my fellow Jews by Choice. The community that I call my spiritual home, has been welcoming and accepting of me in every way. So much so  that I was elected to the board of the synagogue. This is the great place to end this...a convert who has assimilated,  engaged  and can pass......

Ahhh but if it could be that simple...that black and white....

"What is a Jew?" is a loaded yet simple question depending on the questioner. Over the arc of these past five years I have shifted,  gone to extremes and moderated multiple times. Life has collaborated and resisted, intervening with all it's joys and sorrows.  What began as 'doing Jewish" slid to "feeling Jewish" and has landed in a place of "being Jewish."

 Over these past years I have become Jewish...sometimes, perhaps after a bit too much Shabbat wine, I muse I was Jewish all along. I love the idea that all Jews in the past, present and future were at Sinai. Yet  I believe my "being Jewish"  has corresponded with an easing, a surrender of sorts. A surrender to the idea that all of my life's experiences, make me who I am; The Catholic, Unitarian Universalist and Buddhist ones included. There is the idea that when one chooses to convert all that was before that point is dead. We are born again, to borrow a phrase, into our new Jewish selves. I tried to implement some version of that earlier in my journey. Yet like most ideas, dogmas and plans time has a way of smoothing things out and taking the sharpness away. I truly believe I am a better Jew because of my past, because of the act of choosing. I can not erase my memories like an outdated computer hard drive. I have found that embracing all of me...not just the newer Jewish parts, empowers my faith and my joy. 

Dunking Rachael

Love, Faith and Life