Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Month of May -- Through the Years

The month of May, over the past five years, has held some interesting posts and thoughts. The only year that was lacking? 2007. Probably because I'd just started a new job and was insanely busy. Here are some posts, from May 2006 until May 2010. And, well, you know where we are today.

You have what my mother would have called a Yiddishe kupf – a Jewish head. You see the subtleties, the nuances in things. You see the humor that’s enveloped in tragedy, and the tears hidden inside the laughter. ~ My Jewish-American Fiction professor
I loved this professor, and I think he knew something about me that I was still figuring out.

There are moments when I wish I had converted via a more observant route. Then again, I think in time I will convert more conservative. Why? Becuase I want to be immersed.
I wrote this mere weeks after completing my Reform conversion. It's really interesting to me that I was so perceptive of what my neshama needed and wanted so soon after my first dip. 

The more I think back to my conversion, the more I have to consider the validity of the beth din. I dipped in the mikvah (twice), but the validity of that even relies on those there in the beth din. The more I consider it, the more I feel more confident about pursuing an Orthodox conversion. I won't get into it here, but that's just how it goes.
It was around this time that the politics of conversion really made sense to me. The "twice" is because of a funny story surrounding my conversion and a mistake that was made that required a double dip (not my Reform and Orthodox conversions, after all, it was only 2008). I also think that this is moment that I realized that Orthodoxy was the future.

My philosophy has always been -- and mostly still is, though I have moments of weakness where I'm beaten to pulp emotionally over the topic by others -- that I'm a Jew. That much is black and white. I either am or am not, and I most certainly am. A black woman convert once said that she tells people that she was born Jewish, just not in a Jewish womb, and I think it's pretty accurate. Some are blessed being born into it from breath number one, and some of us have to get there. It's like realizing you have a nose when you're a baby. It's an amazing feeling, too.

But I'm a Jew. I'll jump through thirty hoops and dip in the mikvah a dozen times if you want.

What do I care? There will always be people who think you're not enough. Or that you're too much (as it seems to be the case with me sometimes). And the balance is necessary. These negative Nancy and positive Petes keep you in check, they keep you fighting, they keep you passionate and alive. They remind you that it is not effortless to be a Jew -- convert or not. Someone will always want you to cover more or butcher the cow yourself, and someone else will tell you to loosen up and let your hair down and eat that non-kosher candy bar. It's becuase it isn't black and white.

So this is all I have to say -- right now anyway -- on this whole conversion debacle in Israel and Europe and everywhere else that converts are feeling the burn. I feel for them, we're kindred spirits wandering back to the mount together, catching up with the rest of the tribe camped there. I understand the frustration and the hurt, and I understand the want for it all to just go away and for the slippery slope to flatten out and become coarse as sand paper. But for now, we'll forge forth.

There is always someone standing in our path, and that never changes. It is the reaction to the situation that truly matters. And me? Well, you'll see how I turn out.
This truly sums up my philosophy -- then and now -- on conversion and converting and converts. No matter how "judgmental" people think I am, and no matter the thoughts I have or the way I question myself and others, I will always feel this way. It's our reaction to such sentiments and feelings more than any other factor that counts the most. 

[A narrative -- my memory -- of standing at Sinai.] This isn't creative fiction or narrative. It isn't me being thoughtful or pensive or hopeful as to what maybe it would have been like to be at Sinai. I've had these memories, the vivid imagery that I cannot even put into words appropriately here. The colors, the smells, the sound of the wind and the voices. It's the truth I have to accept, my neshama stood there with a child, it seems, awaiting the Torah.
I honestly think people thought I was nuts when I wrote this. Click and read the full story, but it's for real. Honest and for real.

Ever since I was a kid, I felt overwhelmed. Like, the world is so big. That there's so much going on. That it's all just too much to handle as one person. Do you guys ever feel like that? Like the pressure of the world is on your shoulders? Like you're meant to do something really big, important, and amazing, but that sometimes you feel it's just too much. I spent a large part of my life trying to fix some personal relationships, family, friends. My outpourings -- more often than not -- are met with failure or brick walls. It all piles up sometimes, and it starts to feel like it's beyond too much. Infinitely too much.
And this is where I am today, still. The past year has been a whirlwind, but that feeling of being overwhelmed by people and blessings? Well, it's sticking with me. That professor knew something about me that I didn't, and perhaps it's those nuances that I see, those intricacies, that keep everything feel so big and so ... amazing and scary all at the same time. I often feel like HaShem has a plan for me that I can not even begin to understand, but I know that I just have to go with it. And I think, honestly, that this blog is a big part of it.