a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Yom Kippur

Posted on: September 18, 2010


Last night I went to a new synagogue for Kol Nidre services, alone.  Despite being in another large congregation of Jews so technically I wasn’t alone, I felt incredibly by myself.  A sweet, older lesbian couple sat down next to me and introduced themselves.  Did I look gay?  or was it that I was the only black person?  Either way, I looked different, I was a stranger, so they sat next to me and said hello before service started.

We talked about shofars, because that’s how you start a conversation.  Throughout service, as I fumbled through an unfamiliar prayer book, they helped me find my place and at the end of service they wished me a good night.  I came home and went to bed with a giant rumble in my stomach and woke up feeling dizzy and confused.

The first services at this synagogue started almost an hour and a half ago and I’ve missed them.  I couldn’t shake off the empty and alone feeling I felt leaving shul last night and didn’t have a desire to feel the same way today.  I’d turned down a few invitations to visit other synagogues with friends of mine and scrambled to make new plans for today.  Tentatively, I’m meeting some of my friends to attend Yom Kippur Minchah/Neilah services at 5PM tonight which makes me feel a bit better.

I realized last night that this journey, although it is mine and therefore personal, cannot be done alone.  The thing that excites me about the second conversion class I am enrolled in is that the rabbi I spoke to made mention to the fact that I cannot be a practicing Jew alone.  She told me that she encourages, and requires her students to meet with one another outside of the class, encourages them to attend Shabbat services, encourages them to attend Shabbat dinners and I definitely need that.

Thus far, it’s been a journey that I’ve made quite on my own and last night I felt completely alone.  I went to bed confused, sad, and a little depressed.  I talked to G-d as I fell asleep and while I felt assured, this morning when I woke, I was still alone.

I’m grateful to have all of you readers who keep coming by to read about my journey.  I’d love to hear from you, especially if you’re in the NYC area.  I’d love to hear stories from other Jews of color, other LGBT Jews, other converts to Judaism.  If you want to tell me about your story, share insight, tell me that it will all work out, or that you’ve been there, too…e-mail me at blackgayandjewish@gmail.com or leave a comment.

My fast has been reflective, thus far, dizzying, and a bit exhausting.  It’s cleared my head and allowed me to think outside of my body.  Last night the rabbi’s sermon was about actively making a change in the world for 5771.  She talked about taking an active part of life around you, rather than waiting for someone else to do so.  The message spoke to me and I’ve taken steps to get involved in the world around me instead of acting selfishly to improve my personal world.

I hope that all of you have meaningful, thoughtful, fasts that are full of ease.  Blessings for your New Year!

4 Responses to "Yom Kippur"

I, too, am Jewish…Excellent post.

shana tova.

Hoping for better times in future.

Yom Kippur last year and Yom Kippur this year were different by leaps and bounds! I had an amazing Yom Kippur and finally rounded out an entire year of Jewish observance 🙂 All-in-all, quite awesome.

[…] As a result, our instructor was able to get us discounted (free) tickets to service. I went by myself and it was a very uncomfortable experience. I didn’t understand the service, I didn’t […]

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