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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Essay #1: Describe Where You Are Now

Mon Feb 25: So, I'd been putting off doing one step in my Intro to Judaism class, and that's the "journal" assignments every week. I'm all caught up on my reading assignments (again) and I'm actually reading ahead on the syllabus. But I hadn't been doing the writing assignments, so it's probably time I start. So, I've worked on just the answer to week #1's assignment. There are 18 weeks in the course, so there are several (17) more essays to come.

wk. 1 (Jan 16): Beginnings / Shabbat I: Holiness and G-d
Journal assignment: Describe your feelings about starting this program. Write a personal statement about "where you are" in your religious or "spiritual" life now.

Mon Feb 25: When I first started this program, I wasn't sure what to expect from the class. I was actually surprised to find that the class members were there for a wide variety of motivations. Some are couples. Some are singles. Some are Jews-by-birth, looking to learn more about their roots. Some are potential converts, like me. One or two are (like me) going to be the only Jews in their families. There's one couple that are clearly Christians: The wife seems honestly interested in Judaism for Judaism's sake. The husband comes across like a proselytizer. It's hard to keep a charitable attitude toward him, although I find myself feeling shameful when I think of him as "annoying."

Right now, I feel like I'm a Jew, and I'm just formalizing my training and my conversion. When I started the class, I thought, "I want to convert." Now I feel like, "conversion is a formalization of that which is already real in my life."

Little things seem so natural now. I feel great affection and warmth for G-d when I see my mezuzah at home, or when I see one on the doorpost of my friends' homes. I feel fortunate to know what's written on the scroll inside, and to affirm my love for G-d's ways and His words (Tanakh) to me. I feel proud to wear a magen david necklace, and it doesn't make me the slightest bit nervous anymore. At first, I wasn't sure what people might think. Now that doesn't really occur to me. It seems natural to wear it, and feels highly unnatural to turn my butterfly-one around to see family I haven't told yet. My grandparents make me nervous still, but I'm not that worried about my Mom or sister. It feels now like telling them will be simple and natural eventually.

It feels right to eat Kosher, or closely "kosher-style" by avoiding pork, shellfish, or mixing meat and dairy. I've even started wondering about what my dinner order will be in restaurants when I know I'm ordering coffee and drinking cream in my coffee. Naturally, it becomes a dairy meal. I'm not sure when/if I might have a kosher kitchen, but it doesn't seem far-fetched to me. And yet, I enjoy cooking at SCA events where I know some people will naturally mix meat and dairy (like beef burritos with cheese). I just feel like the kosher vegetarian, and that's fine with me.

When it comes to my relationship with G-d Himself, I often remember the words that Noah spoke to me once. He said, "How are things with you and G-d? Where do you stand with Him?" and I answered, "He and I have the same relationship we've had since I was a tiny girl. Nothing has changed, and it's only grown better." And Noah replied, "Then you both know who you are to each other. No problem."

But then Jeff's comment recently in a conversation was, "Judaism isn't for everyone." And this has sorted several things in my mind. It is less confusing, when I see others make different choices than I have. I see how Nate makes his choices, even though he is also went through a conversion process, to become a "Jew-by-Choice." His choices are not the same as mine. I see how Shosh or Saul make their choices, and they are both Jews-by-birth. And they have come to different value conclusions than I have. And I think of my friends from GCF in college, and how I might be the only one to come out of leadership in GCF and decide to convert to Judaism, for spiritual reasons as well as embracing the community. And then I hear Jeff's words again, "Judaism is not for everyone." And it makes me ponder what makes me the way I am? How did G-d make me with this capacity for Him? What responsibilities am I willingly taking up as mine, as I embrace this much of a commitment to Him and to His people? Throughout my life I have quoted, "To whom much is given, much is required." This is how I understand my requirement to give much with my life: I've been given much from G-d. So I'm expected to do much with what I was given. And so here too in my spiritual pursuits, I also feel the call to do much, because I have been given much. It's something I ponder frequently.

Most recently, I was looked at on Saturday night, to help with Havdalah. A week ago, I helped facilitate both Shabbat and Havdalah, at Estrella. And it made me think, "It's my responsibility to be better studied in all these ceremonies. Because naturally, people are going to come to me for leadership, both in prayer and in music. So even before I go into any formal training (like cantorial training, which is making more and more sense in my head), I need to add some lay-training to my studies. I need to learn the prayers and the tunes, and quickly. Because this is required of me. I am called to this."

I have a feeling that this calling will help make my "I'm converting" conversation go better with some of my family. They already know I've been led into lay-leadership in the spiritual community, all my life. This is just a natural progression to the next chapter. It's humbling and rewarding to consider, all at the same time.
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Today's Blessing That I'm Thankful For: Such insightful friends in my life

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