Peeping Rabbi

Mikvah Chabad PotomacA local Rabbi has recently been accused of secretly observing women as they prepared for the Mikvah. My first reaction was to feel defiled and betrayed, not because he might have seen me naked, but because anyone might have intruded into a moment that was so intensely personal.

I checked to see if it was the Mikvah I had used at a Conservative synagogue. It was not. I felt sick to discover it was a well-respected Orthodox Rabbi at an Orthodox Mikvah–and one who had been a Rabbi for 25 years at that. It’s not that I expect Conservative and Reform Rabbis to be voyeuristic perverts. It’s that I never expected an Orthodox Rabbi to be a voyeuristic pervert.

Upon reflection, I’d have to say I hold an Orthodox Rabbi to a higher level for two reasons. One is just plain moral decency. The other is that anyone espousing that level of religious observance had better do more than talk the talk. Until now, it was not within my scope of possibilities for any Rabbi, let alone an Orthodox Rabbi, to behave in this way, just as it was not within the scope of possibilies for a Pope to resign.

I was stunned to see a woman defending this Rabbi on a news report. As far as I remember, she said we must remember that he is a genius and an inspired leader. Really? That makes it okay? It certainly doesn’t for me.

My time at the Mikvah was integral to a moment that remains one of them most significant and personal moments of my life. That anyone would ever dare to intrude on such a moment is beneath contempt.

Thin Skin and Interfaith Marriage

Sad_sThin skin and interfaith marriage do not make for a healthy combination. I know this because when I was first married, and then again when I was first converted, I was pretty much the Princess and the Pea of anything to do with interfaith life. I also know, given my personal history, I came by this honestly. But really. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. I’ve worked since then to appreciate that the things that seem insensitive to me are often parts of a religion that does not actively seek converts, working to find a way to integrate people from a variety of backgrounds into its religious life. At this point, I get it that it’s not easy on either side. Continue reading

The Annual Women’s Seder and My Catholic Grandmother

So. I decided I would go to the annual women’s seder at our temple this year. I tend to shy away from these events because it is usually uncomfortable when “my slip shows,”  but I decided to expect the best. Plus, I was meeting up with a good friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I was kind of looking forward to it.

By the afternoon, I started to feel a bit anxious. Memories of past forays into the halls of  Sisterhood rushed back. I took a walk and drank a lot of water. Then I got this email: “Ladies-The theme of the Women’s Seder this year is Memories. We would like you to bring an artifact (piece of jewelry, photograph, wine cup, etc.) that is in memory of a significant (Jewish) woman in your life. If you do not have an artifact, then just bring the story…”  Continue reading

Your Slip is Showing: Conversion

These are the things that no one has probably thought to tell you about conversion in the Reform movement. You’ll be glad to know them. Believe me.

  1. In conversion class, when you get to the page with the Thirteen Articles of Maimonides, do not get excited. Do not  highlight them and think you have found the answer to what you need to know about Judaism. This is just one opinion of one man at one time in his life. Judaism does not lay things out in a neat list like this. Read more

Things You Need to Know: Conversion

Things you need to know about conversion in the Reform movement:

  1. You will study with your rabbi for about a year. You may also take a Shehecheyanuconversion class with people from several different movements and synagogues. The rabbis from the various congregations may take turns leading these classes. It’s a good opportunity to discover and discuss the difference in observance by different movements.
  2. There is a lot to read and think about. Some of the books will be about conversion. Some will be about Judaism. There will be Jewish history and also at least a bit of Hebrew.

Read more

Conversion

I never intended to become Jewish. When I read the interfaith books that were available before my marriage and realized that many times they’d been written by women who had converted after years of marriage, I vowed I’d always maintain my identity. It wasn’t until years later that I began to understand what might have led those women to make the decision they had. Read more

C-Day

Finding My Jewish Soul

My conversion is tomorrow. At 8:45 in the morning. After waiting and wanting to be Jewish in some part of my soul since I was 11 years old, standing confused in a hallway outside my sixth grade classroom, I am going to be Jewish.  It’s been a long, winding path through different faiths, through being scared, through being challenged, but it’s here. And it’s surreal. But exciting. Marvelous. Exhilarating  After all, how often in life do you get to come out with a new soul? It started to begin to feel real last week, as I took a trip to the mikvah I will be dipping in once my meeting with the beit din is over, and when I had a last meeting with my rabbi.  It finally sunk in when I made a Facebook post about it this morning and before I knew what was happening, my eyes had filled…

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Welcome

This blog is for those of us who have chosen Judaism. As a convert, there is a lot to learn about Judaism. There is also a lot to learn about yourself – especially about yourself as a Jew. For me, the decision to convert took a while, but once the decision was made, I was calm and settled about it. Because of that, I was surprised to find I felt something was missing once I converted.

I mean, I stepped out of the mikvah with plenty of knowledge of what Jews do, but no real insight into what I would do as a Jew. What followed was a period of extended study and questioning, along with experimentation with different aspects of Judiasm. Ultimately I came to an appreciation of myself as a Jewish woman.

This site is for those who have wrestled with similar issues – or not. Please comment about your experiences and feel free to suggest topics for future posts.

I hope to see you here often.

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