An update for the (Jewish) new year

I’ve been really terrible about blogging lately. To be honest, I’m not sure anyone cares about anything I have to say, so I wonder why I continue to maintain this blog. Granted, I’ve had it for ten years, and I always hope my life will suddenly become insanely interesting and I’ll have no choice but to chronicle my life on here.

But, alas…right now, I’m quite boring. And I keep the blog alive because… well… because.

Fall has arrived here in western Washington.  It was 36 degrees when I woke up this morning. We slept with the window open, as we always do, because we’re fresh air junkies, and our bedroom was about 55 degrees when I got out of bed. I usually get coffee going (priority #1) and then head out to the gazebo to enjoy the crisp – or in this case, downright cold – morning air. Although we live in town, we live across from a park and in the early mornings, it’s like living in the country. No noises, no traffic. Just the sound of sea lions barking down on the water, an occasional blast of the ferry horn, and otherwise, total silence.

Today is the second day or Rosh Hashanah, otherwise known as the Jewish New Year. We attended a beautiful service at our synagogue yesterday, where Tim and I were called forward to open the ark so that the Torah could be removed. I will admit that there is a fair amount of performance anxiety that goes with standing on the bimah* in front of the entire congregation, but luckily the rabbi and cantor were there to make sure we handled it okay (and we did).

I haven’t discussed it anywhere because it’s not really my story to tell, but my husband is now going through the Jewish conversion process.  When I converted, I did so after making sure he was okay with it, but I was very clear that I had no expectation for him to join me. But since he’s lived a Jewish life these past few years alongside me and, as a black man, he connects with the Jewish story. At the time of my conversion, he confessed that he, too, never believed the Christian story, either, and was relieved he wouldn’t have to go to church anymore. Then, over a year ago, he made the decision to convert, but he’s now actively in the process. I expect him to complete his conversion this year (year 5780 on the Jewish calendar), and I can’t wait to celebrate with him when his conversion is complete. He is so studious, doing his assignments of reading and studying Hebrew. It makes me so happy and, as I saw yesterday, he knows people at shul* that I don’t know and greeted several of them by name. He’s a huge introvert, and I love knowing he’s making connections on his own.

Which brings me to my next topic – my love for our community. I’m fairly active with volunteering at shul, I hold a board position in our women’s group, and I’m outgoing enough that I manage to meet a lot of people. But this is the first time in my life that I’ve felt accepted, and like I truly belong. Having been on a decades-long religious journey and always feeling like a fraud before, I just rejoice in feeling like I belong. And let’s be honest – I have super-curly hair, my first name is Rachel, and my maiden name is very, very Jewish (despite the fact that we weren’t Jews), so most assume I’m a born Jew. Since it’s impolite to ask of one’s lineage and especially impolite to ask about conversions, I’m quite happy that people assume I’ve always been Jewish. After all, my soul was always Jewish. It just took my brain a while to catch up.

Anyway, L’Shana Tova*!

*bimah – raised platform from which services are lead and where the Torah ark resides

*shul – Yiddish for synagogue, and my preferred word to use

*L’Shana Tova – The new year greeting we say to one another; means “for a good new year.”


12 thoughts on “An update for the (Jewish) new year

  1. Hi Rachel, I’m so happy you have found a spiritual home, and I can see the peace and joy you feel. It must also be special to have your husband sharing the journey.

    I empathize with the struggle whether “to blog or not to blog”. I’ve been struggling over the past year myself. But, like you, the blog is such a long-time investment! Plus, writing is therapeutic.
    I enjoy your posts.
    שנה טובה,

  2. Thank you, Rachel for opening up to ears that need to listen. I have spent much of the last year delving into my family’s Jewish past and learning to understand it on a personal level. As you have explained, it is indeed a long process. Keep on keepin’ on; you’re doing a great job!

    • Delving into your family’s Jewish past has to be fascinating. I want to focus on that, as DNA analysis says I’m 4.2% Ashkenzai Jewish, which lines up with the family lore that my great, great, great grandmother was a German Jew. My maiden name is also very Jewish… I’m trying to connect the dots.

  3. I read all your posts! If you posted weekly I might not be able to keep up so…. GOOD WORK.

    Seriously, as underwater as I am at the moment it is so good to read this from you and have a momentary connection with my friend that I miss so much.

  4. I’m not Jewish, but I love Judaism too, almost converted, but found that wasn’t me either. I am now realizing I am a Gentile with the heart of the Jew and my passion for the Jewish is like a love story… I love this type of message, it is just real and honest. Thanks for sharing.

    • Religious conversion is such a deeply personal, almost soul-wringing process. I applaud you for listening to your inner voice – that’s the hardest part! Sending you well wishes on your journey!

    • Shannie, it also may be that when you first attempted to convert, you did so in the wrong Jewish “denomination” or stream. We have four-to-six (depending on who you ask) denominations with very different interpretations of what it means to be Jewish – so it might be that you need to find your “spot.” I’m in no way attempting to tell you what to do, but it’s food for thought.

    • Thank you, the shul I go to is very gentle, and I love them very much. I just have made this decision because I don’t want to lose my gentile identity since like a man and a woman, the Jew and Gentile are different and I feel there is a complement in that

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