Three years ago, the bells and whistles of my Reform conversion were completed. The mikvah had been dipped, prayers were recited, the bet din had been satisfied, sushi had been consumed, and I was preparing for a Friday evening ceremony with friends. Three years ago, I was preparing to graduate from college, but also to graduate from a girl with a Jewish soul into a Jew with a Jewish soul. You can read about my experience here.
It's amazing how much I have changed and moved in the past three years. I've had a career, changed careers, lived in three different places -- Washington DC, Chicago, and Connecticut. I've purchased things, and gotten rid of things. I've donated items, and lost items. I have had several different boyfriends, and am now with the man I'll spend the rest of my days with. I lost a grandfather, found out my father has cancer, and watched countless friends get married and now pregnant. I've watched my little brother get his first girlfriend, and I've watched my parents age. I've gained weight and lost weight. I've taken on more mitzvot, moved from Reform to Conservative to Orthodox in an almost fluid motion. I've become a technologically addicted 20 something, the essence of my generation. But all in all, I'm still me. Amanda, Chaviva. I am "beloved."
And with a mere three-year anniversary of my conversion, Israel celebrates 61 years since its establishment.
It's hard to feel connected to the celebrations when spread thinly out in the Diaspora, and I wish I were there. I find myself missing Israel, even though I was only there for 10 days, all the time. I keep thinking "I could go on a 5-month or 12-month program and work/study in Israel after I graduate in a year!" But then, well, I don't think Tuvia would be too fond of that. I'd love to live in Israel, if only for part of the year. I'd love to be part of the community, the living, breathing organism of Jewishness. But until then, I'll be in solidarity of mind with Israel. Maybe find a cupcake and stick a candle in it. Say "Yom huledet sameach, Yisrael!"