a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Conversion Classes are Starting Again

Posted on: January 8, 2011

Next Wednesday the 12th will start the second trimester of conversion classes.  Saying that I’m excited isn’t sufficient verbage for how I’m feeling about it.  I’ve been feeling a little down lately, a little lost-truthfully, and definitely a lot depressed.  One of the great things about working in retail is that from October-December you’re sort of in go-mode.  You really don’t have much to do except for work and there’s barely enough time to eat or sleep let alone think about the problems that may or may not be happening in your life.

Because things in my life, outside of NYC, are nothing short of hectic I’ve been able to put them at the back of my mind.  After December 25, and possibly because of December 25th things have been sort of thrown right back into the frontal lobes of my mind and therefore, almost impossible to let go.  It goes without saying that this day would come.  When I would turn to my psychologist-in-training partner and ask her to give me suggestions for therapist to help me deal with all of the stuff that’s been happening over the past few months.

The process is taking a while so I haven’t started sitting in a big leather chair spilling my guts and conflicted feelings of anger, hatred, tortured love and Jewish thinking that is any thoughts of my sister and the complicated situation she’s inflicted on my family.  Until most recently I felt that what she’d done and the effect of what she’d done didn’t or wouldn’t affect me or how I lived my life.  This has, unfortunately, proven untrue.  It’s hard to balance my disappointment with my hatred.  It’s hard to balance what it means to say that I hate my sister.  It sounds terrible, I know, but I’ve come to learn that hatred, true hatred, only comes from disappointed or unfulfilled love.  I don’t say that I hate her flippantly, I hate her because loving her has become too difficult.  Then how do you balance those feelings with thinking like a Jew.

I don’t expect for my rabbi to help me figure this out, that’s what the therapist is for after all.  I do wonder how my rabbi would help me to reconcile this anger with my Judaism and how to look at these feelings Jewishly.  I’ve read books on Jewish prayer.  I feel like I’m comfortable with the basic outline of most Jewish life cycle events.  I feel like I’ve got a decent handle on Jewish holidays but Jewish hate?  I don’t have a handle on that.  Hatred isn’t a very Jewish thing, after all.  I remember actually reading something in Hammer’s book, some Torah passage about not turning your back on your kin.  That, I struggle with.  I truly struggle with and there are many things in the Torah that I struggle with.  The role of women, the rights of women, women’s roles in synagogue and prayer-most of Leviticus makes me cringe but reading this passage in passing tugged at my very being.  Torah says not to turn your back on your kin and it’s the only thing I can do.

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