Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Like a Big Pink Kugle in the Room.

I got an e-mail earlier today, right as I was arriving back in Chicago from a delightful mini-roadtrip to a (crappy) drive-in in Nowheresville, Indiana, and I spent the entire day mulling over the text trying to find the appropriate way to say what I was feeling about the words.
Bat Ayin is not for conversion candidates. It is for Jewish women but they also accept conversion candidates.
Bat Ayin was what the woman at Aish suggested for me, as a "conversion candidate." In this very simple couple of sentences, this woman is saying "You are not a Jew." As soon as I got in front of the computer earlier today, I wrote ferociously and quickly. It was angry, it was volatile. It was a big "take off your hater pants" fest directed at this woman, at Aish, at Orthodoxy. And I couldn't center my thoughts. I couldn't put exactly what was so frustrating into words.

So tonight, while bawling my eyes out in the shower because I feel like I'm in a vacuum -- things pulling me every which way, tugging my heart strings and prodding my delicate brain about love and religion and belief and faith and the future and the things we cannot effect or change -- it came to me. I finally can say what it is about such people that makes me want to tear my clothes and scream and weep and completely fall apart.

The thing of it is, I had a conversion. I went into the mikvah (twice, actually), I sat before a beth din, I stood in front of a congregation of Jews and (some) family and friends and vowed to take on the plight of the Jew, to raise a Jewish family, to have one G-d, to be a connected member of the Jewish community, of Israel, and I was pronounced Chaviva bat Avraham v'Sarah. It happened. There are witnesses and there is documented proof and pictures to prove I was there. There was a synagogue, a beautiful building, and a mikvah and there was even sushi afterward.

You cannot tell me that I did not step in a mikvah or that I did not stand before those people and proclaim, I am a Jew.

But yes, I understand that to many this was not a "Torah true" conversion. It was a conversion, just not that which some Conservative and all Orthodox parties recognize as legit. But it did happen. Even if it is some rickity-rack conversion that has no meaning, it happened. You can't tell me I didn't feel the mikvah waters over my skin or that I did not say the blessing over the Torah.

It might not be right to you, but something *did* happen. It isn't a tree-falls-in-the-forest situation.

It's like if you order a coffee with two sugars and the waitress brings it to you and you swear up and down that she didn't sweeten it, yet her coworkers saw her, it doesn't mean the sugar isn't there, it just means it isn't sweet enough for you. But the sugar is still there. It isn't as if nothing happened. Something, something is there.

Am I making sense? I guess what I'm saying is that you can't ignore my situation. You can't pretend like I'm some shmuck starting from scratch. I know more halakah and Jewish thought than probably some pretty observant folk. I am aware and I am proud. So don't tell me that nothing happened. Don't pretend like I am some random no one who has not spent at least five years moving backwards and forwards and every which way wrapping her heart and mind around Torah and Judaism and G-d. Acknowledge. ACKNOWLEDGE that something happened. I just want you to say "okay, it is there, now let us move on."

ACKNOWLEDGE that something, even a small something, did happen. I don't expect you to say it's right or it's true or it's legitimate. I just want you to say that something happened.