a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

27 Days

Posted on: July 21, 2011

In 27 days I will join the Jewish people. I will put my name with theirs and my entire life will change forever.  To a born Jew perhaps it sounds a bit over dramatic.  To a non-Jew it may sound over the top.  To a Jew by Choice it may going a little to far. To all, I say it will change my life forever.

Last night I had a conversation with an editor for an online publication that I will be writing for.  We talked about my much debated, much talked about, much discussed Jew vs. Jewish post.  I agree with Dena who commented that perhaps in a few years, or in the time that I’ve been more Jewish than not that I will feel more comfortable referring to myself as a Jew.  I agree with Dena 100%.  Who knows, perhaps it will be a less time then then. It could be 27 days.

I could barely sleep last night.  I tossed and turned like a child on the eve of their birthday.  I don’t know what kept me awake; excitement, nerves, party planning.  My friends and my partner want to know what I have planned in terms of a party, I want to know what I have planned in terms of my life.  I’m not a planner.  I’m more of the go with the flow, what will be will be kind of person.  I’m not good at saving and I generally think that life should be lived in the moment.  I feel like we should live for the here and now because tomorrow is not guaranteed.  It makes my born Jewish, very sensible girlfriend crazy at times. I think it’s what makes us a good match.

When it comes to joining the Jewish people I’m actually thinking about the future rather than the here and now.  I think of what it means to take on this identity that I’ve been wearing for over a year.  Rabbi Spratt, one of the rabbis at the synagogue I currently called home, often used the imigery of trying on Judaism. How as converts, and perhaps even as non-observant Jews, we “try” it on for size, see if it fits.  I’ve been wearing my Judaism coat in very overt ways-the star of David, Hamsa, and Chai necklaces I wear.  It’s in the mezuzah at my door, it’s in the Tanakh tucked into my bag.  I also have the ability to keep it tucked away, and hidden because it wasn’t “mine” to claim.  Now it is. 

Everyone who knows me in cyber world knows me as that Black, Gay Jewish girl.  My bio says “Jew-in-training” and in a few weeks I’ll be able to change it to Jewish.  I’ll always be in training.  Very much like Fraulin Maria in “The Sound of Music”, another window is opening.  The thing about being Jewish is that you’ll always be learning and the learning will never stop.  It’s that aspect of Judaism that attracted me most and it’s that aspect that I look forward to and relish the most.  It feels, in many ways, that doors are closing.  If I find a “new” synagogue home, rabbis to call my own, the door that is the rabbis I’ve turned to could close.  It won’t, I’m sure. It goes without saying that the arsenal of rabbis in my pocket are fucking amazing.  I know that I will have relationships with all of them in the future, but there will be other folks who want to be Jewish and I’ll be Jewish.

Becoming Jewish, I’ve always said, doesn’t negate the rest of me.  I’ve worked thus far and want to continue to work to challenge the way that society as a whole, society at large-both Jewish and non-Jewish “see” Jews.  I’m not your average Jew, but I’m not an exception.  I’m definitely not the only lesbian Jew out there, I’m not the only convert, I’m not the only Black Jew.  But what I do, this writing, and pouring of my very soul allows me to share with you-who ever you are.

4 Responses to "27 Days"

Ahhh!!!!! So excited and happy for you! Enjoy these last days of preparation, but I think you’re approaching with the right mindset: this is Awesome, this is Holy, this is Permanent, and it is completely life changing.

Yes! Yes! Yes! It feels amazing and overwhelming at the same time. Like I’m not worthy and at the same time grateful that I am.

I totally understand how you feel. I’m not gay, but I’m black and female, and will be joining the tribe on August 15th, it looks like. My rabbi’s scheduling the beit din and called me to let me know possible dates today, and I picked the 15th.
I’m kind of in awe and terrified beyond belief at the same time that this nearly four year journey has come to an end…and I’m so aware that I still know so little – but I’m prepared to spend the rest of my life studying.
Love your blog. So sad I found out about you so late!

You’re not late! The party is just starting 😉

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