Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Airing Out.

No matter how long I'm living Jewish, no matter how much I know, or feel, or breathe ... I'm still reminded, in the most ridiculous instances that, well, you know in the end I'm not Jewish. Nope. Not Jewish. I'm a non-Jew. All those non-Jew rules? They apply to me. Little ole me. Chaviva (is that your REAL name?). And it burns. It almost burns more now than it did after my Reform conversion nearly three years ago. Why? Because I'm living this lifestyle of an observant Jew who is shomer Shabbos and really doing the kashrut thing and devoted wholly to an observant and traditional lifestyle. Because my neshama? It's screaming. It's been screaming. It's still screaming.

In a simple conversation over mevushal and non-mevushal wine (a topic which, until now, I was completely ignorant of), I was reminded that despite all my knowledge and lifestyle and belief and dedication and the past six years of my life -- I'm still a non-Jew. I don't have that Orthodox conversion. I'm working on it. I really am. I would dunk now if they'd let me. Would they let me?

I give a d'var at an Orthodox rabbi's table, I daven next to 80-year-old women in hats, I sit behind a mechitzah with pride, I spend hours in the grocery store looking for heckschers with glee, I answer questions about why Orthodox Jews do the things they do, I identify as a (modern) Orthodox Jew. I wear a Magen David around my neck. I own more than three siddurim. I have five different chumashim. I have a Judaica collection that would make my pocketbook weep. There are all the trappings, but they're not enough. I feel the way I feel, and I want to be able to show THAT to people, because THAT is what really matters.

But how do you show someone your soul?

It can't be drawn or explained or photographed or videotaped or displayed on a big screen. It's just there and you hear it and feel it and dream it, but you can't let anyone else see it. I try, so hard, through words and deeds and words words words. But that's all they are. Can people really see the passion behind words? Little symbols and characters born out of sounds?

At any rate, I'm at this awkward frustrated point. I'm a Jew! I am. But I'm not. But I am. It's like I'm in purgatory or something. This middle ground between being born and being just a soul floating through the atmosphere waiting to be whole again.

Sincerely frustrated with people who feel the need to remind me that I'm not a halakhic Jew, 
Chaviva E.