Becoming Jewish
One Girl's Journey

Effervescence is a state of mind. It's about choosing to bring sunshine to the day.
Every person I meet matters.

If it's written down, I know it (If it's not written down, I don't know it)
If it's color-coded, I understand it (If it's not color-coded, I don't understand it)

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Studying, and the Ah-ha Moments

Just a Note - Sorry about the broken comments tool yesterday -- it's all fixed now. You can comment on this side of the journal from now on. Of course, you don't have to comment at all. I'm just an accessibility junkie. :)

Studying For Class - My goodness, there's a huge stack of books for class:
  • Choosing Judaism, by Lydia Kukoff, 2005.

  • Family Haggadah, by Shoshana Silberman, 1987.

  • Gates of Shabbat: A Guide for Observing Shabbat, by Mark Dov Shapiro, 1991.

  • Introduction to Judaism: A Source Book, by Lisa A. Edwards, 1999.

  • The Jewish Home: A Guide for Jewish Living, by Daniel B. Syme, 2003.

  • On the Doorposts of Your House, by Chaim Stern, 1995.

  • A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood, by Raymond P. Scheindlin, 2000.

  • Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures--The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text, 1985.

  • To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking, by Harold S. Kushner, 1994.

Class runs through the end of May, so I'm sure there's enough time to do the reading and preparations for class, but it does feel a little daunting to have 9 books stacked next to my bed.

I finished the chapter in "The Jewish Home" that's for this week's class. I'm half-way through the chapter in "the Sourcebook" for this week. And supposedly "Gates of Shabbat" is assigned for this week... the whole book? Really? Hmm. Yup, according to the sylabus, this is the only week for that book. Well, time to really step up my reading tonight and tomorrow morning.

Oddly enough, I'm already doing a silly statistics thing for 2008, just for fun, to see how many pages I read in a day or a month or a year. I'm tracking how many pages I've read of which book, every day. The funniest thing about keeping track of my reading is how MANY books I have going at any one time. Technically, I'm in the middle of 7 titles right now. *laughs* It's all about mood and which books travel well or not. Some books are just for the kitchen table at home, other books go with me everywhere. Just like how I probably have 2-5 hand-sewing or braiding or spinning projects with me everywhere I go, and I probably 2-4 books with me at any one time. I'm such a nut.

Completely By Surprise - This evening was one of those "Ah ha!" moments that has come upon me suddenly. I'd known that eventually I would have to "deal with the Jesus issue," having been raised in a Protestant home, church, and been genuinely devout in college and my own studies over the years. I really believed, and believed with happiness and joy in the things I'd been taught. I taught these same principles and scriptures to 3rd & 4th graders in Sunday School, or peers in college Bible Studies. I was never one of those people who "never believed in Jesus anyways" or "never felt like I belonged in church." I honestly loved being there, and all my life I've wanted to be close to G-d and know how to serve Him.

On Saturday, when the nice-young man was being adorable and flirty, we ended up briefly in discussion about faith. He saw my necklace and asked, "Oh are you Jewish?" And when I answered, "I happen to be converting," he was confused and surprised, and replied, "Are you familiar with Messianic Judaism?" -- basically he could easily understand a Jew converting to Christianity, but had never thought a Christian could become a Jew.

It's been weighing on me, a little, since Saturday, that this is something I'm going to be asked about for the rest of my life. And I ran across a link to a link to a link (as you do, on the internet) where I ended up finding the articles by "Jews for Judaism." Typically, these resources are directly in response to the kinds of issues that "Jews for Jesus" pose, as they evangelize to Jews. But I downloaded a copy of an article entitled, "The Real Messiah? A Jewish Response to Missionaries" by Aryeh Kaplan, and put the printout in my (ever-increasing) stack of "things to read soon."

I had a lovely dinner with a friend, and then we were going to meet up at a local coffee shop to keep chatting. He had to run an errand first, and was planning to meet me there. His errands snow-balled out of control, and I ended up having quiet time over coffee for the next 90+ minutes. I took the article in with me to read, and 58 pages later, things really clicked into place.

I'm not at all nervous anymore about the "but how could you just suddenly stop believing in Jesus?" question that I will inevitably keep being asked. I have my bearings now, and feel confident in what makes sense and what I'll continue to study and understand more fully. And I'm more convinced than ever that I'm going to be able to stand up in front of that "Bet Din" at conversion, and answer truthfully and honestly that I believe only in One G-d, and no other gods. This is the same unshakeable belief I've always had in G-d, since I was tiny. I'm just scratching the surface of that research that says, "Why didn't the Jews follow Jesus since the beginning? Why haven't they believed that the Messiah has already come?"

I never thought to ask that, when I was a devout Christian. It just never dawned on me to ask "why not?" about Judaism, because I believed I had already found the answers about G-d. But 2+ years ago, when I first started to wonder, "What would the world look like if I'd been raised in a Jewish family?" I finally started to ask the question, "What do Jews think about Christianity anyways?" Now I get it.

I don't plan to use this journal as a place to argue for or against anything. This has always been about how I can talk about what I'm going through and learning and struggling with. But I can say with strong conviction, I know what I'm pursuing in my faith, and it's becoming more unshakeable by the day.

* * * * *
Today's Blessing That I'm Thankful For: Quiet reflection and study

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