I'd like to write a novella. Or perhaps a short story? The focus of the story being about my experience at the beth din yesterday and how there were moments where I broke down and my nerves ate my confidence, as well as moments of assurance and excitement. But there isn't much time before Shabbos descends, and there are things I need to do in preparation (like pack, for example!), so you'll probably have to wait until motzei Shabbos to hear about the entire experience. To protect the innocent (rabbis), I won't be naming names, or delving into extreme details, but I think that it's important for me to talk about the experience candidly -- both for my eternal record of my Jewish comings and goings, as well as for those of you who have so eagerly anticipated the outcome and who so amazingly supported me throughout my entire experience and most importantly yesterday as I sat, prepared to vomit, waiting for the meeting. So to tide you over, some anecdotes.
+ It's funny that being at Yeshiva University I had the hardest time with shomer negiah. Now, it wasn't ME that was the problem, it was the dozens of teenage boys bumping into me constantly without consideration. Are they not used to the ladies being around? Or was it a sense of carelessness? Or was it a disregard for the observance? I can't really say, but it was frustrating. Maybe I could lose a few pounds and fade into the scenery not to be bumped into! Either way, it was both amusing and irritating at the same time.
+ Twitter friends (@Mottel being the first) suggested we head to Golan Heights, a kosher and Israeli-style restaurant off Amsterdam and 187th near YU. Tuvia got to have his first schwarma (which he loved), and I got to down an Israeli-rocking falafa-laffa (that's falafel on laffa). I loaded it up with tahini, pickles, israeli salad, chips and some awesome spicy sauce. It was exceedingly delicious, but it probably wasn't the best choice for a pre-beth din chowdown ... overall, I will say that Golan Heights is probably one of THE best kosher foodie joints I've been to in a long time!
+ Being in New York was an inspiration. It's rare that I'm in a city surrounded by Jews at every corner turn, and it was so comforting that no matter where I want, I saw a kippah-toting gentleman. It just made me feel comfortable, like I belonged, as if I were in my own little Jewish world. I imagine that this sentiment will only be magnified when I step into Israel.
Lastly, can I just say that it was ... so special, so amazing, so absolutely significant and warm that the first thing the first rabbi to arrive at the beth din meeting did was call me Chaviva. The name of this blog is "Just Call Me Chaviva," and when I chose that name, I chose it knowing that it would someday outshine Amanda as the name I identified with. But to have an Orthodox rabbi, on my beth din, acknowledge how important that is to me, was something I find hard to put into words. It was moving, and it left me feeling relaxed and comfortable. So I nod a thank you to that rabbi for welcoming me with the proverbial open arms of something so simple as a name.
Stay tuned, friends, and Shabbat Shalom -- may you be with peace, rest, and the gift of Shabbos in your homes!