Posted on: December 17, 2010
One Day at a Time
Easy Does It
It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint
This morning one of you readers, always inspiration, said that she was taking baby steps in divorcing herself from Christmas and it got me thinking, am I rushing into this? The short answer would be yes the long answer is no. Yes, in the fact that I’m hungry and literally devouring nearly everything that I can get my hands on. Devouring may suggest that I’m gobbling it up without tasting it which is a strong visual so I’ll edit a bit, I’m consuming it… Granted consuming makes me think of a fire that takes over a forest in an alarming rate but that’s the metaphor I’m going for. Consume…Absorb? I like absorb better, it’s more peaceful, like a sponge. Alright, absorb. I’m absorbing my Judaism at what could be considered an alarming rate and there’s no “date” in my future. For many of the converts in my class the date they’re working for is a wedding date. They’ve got to get it, get it done, at get to being Jews before March 15th, June 9th, April 27th. Those dates aren’t real wedding dates as far as I know but they’re definitely markers for them, the finish line if you will.
My new friend who’s converting Orthodox has been in private study for 5 years before making the very recent decision to convert. Her knowledge of Hebrew prayer and the order of service is astounding and inspirational. Then there’s me, I jumped right in feet first into the deep end and guess what-I can swim! (These analogies bothering anyone else?) It’s not as though I didn’t try out other things before hand, because I certainly did, but when I found what fit the best, what inspired me the most, what felt like the right place to find myself after years of searching I wanted it all and immediately.
As we all know as converts and Jews the Jewish learning never stops. We read Torah every year over and over again trying to look for new meaning, learn new lessons, and revisit lessons learned. As a Jew-to-be the learning seems endless but not overwhelming. I feel like I just got a handle on what happened at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and another one of you readers helped me to remember the “big deal” that is Passover. Still I wonder, should I be taking smaller steps rather than giant leaps. Am I taking enough time to relish what it feels like to be a Jew in Training or has the want to be a Jew clouded the appreciation for the process I am in right now, what I’m going through at this moment.
I think back to the spring when I started shul shopping and rabbi chatting. I sat down with 4 rabbis and visited 4 shuls before finding the rabbi that inspired me and challenged me most. To be honest, I’ve never actually attended a Shabbat service there rather attend a shul closer to home with a rabbi that I’ve only met in passing. The next step in my conversion process is meeting with a rabbi on a regular basis for one-on-one meetings. I’ll continue to attend the larger classes starting in January for the second trimester of Judaism classes but in order to secure the one-on-one meeting I needed to join the synagogue. I struggled with this decision not only because of the financial burden but because besides Kol Nidre, I’ve never experienced the synagogue’s worship style. What I did know, as I signed a check and filled out the membership paperwork, was that Rabbi L always makes me think, she always makes me consider and reconsider, she always says something that is challenging to me and that is helping to form me into the Jew that I will become. She’s active in the synagogue as an educational rabbi, she doesn’t do the sermon part-still she’s so very much a part of why I chose this shul. The way I explained it to Mirs is that the mikvah is my finish line, joining the synagogue is the race course. Great thing is that it doesn’t actually end at the mikvah, it actually begins at the mikvah. The beauty of the mikvah is that afterwards, I can go to which every synagogue I chose and I will be a Jew.
Still I’m wondering if this step, the reform step, is the step in the right direction. Is an Orthodox conversion a better option for the just in cases of the future. You know, just in case my child as an adult moves to Israel for a trip and falls in love with another Jew whose parents want to verify that they’re crazy lesbian mothers are both “real” Jews. It’s a silly what if but it could happen. Could I be jeopardizing my potential future child’s love life? Will an Orthodox conversion better the troubled mind of the rabbi who makes sure that Mirs has her candles for Shabbos? Do I even want an Orthodox conversion? Why haven’t I taken a longer look at Conservative conversion? I considered it for a second before heading directly for the Reform. The truth in the decision relied heavily on my gayness and need to be in a place that it would be accepted and acknowledged rather than ignored or swept under the rug. The fact that I’m gay and will be a gay Jew is important to me. In class and at last week’s Shabbat service the rabbis talked about LGBT issues as Jewish issues. I like that and I wonder if I’d find that message of acceptance and love for all people in a Conservative shul or an Orthodox shul. I don’t know and can’t know, but this is what happens when you slow down a bit and take a look at where you’re going and where you’ve been.