First they came…

Never been a huge fan of Israeli politics, as I’m pretty sure all of us here know. And while I really try hard to have empathy for the individual gerim who are being denied the opportunity to make aliyah because their batei din don’t meet the requirements of the Israeli rabbinate (who think there are so many of us out here who can afford to pay 1 million dollars to rabbis for the purpose of converting that they need to be extra careful with screening aliyah candidates), I find myself just not giving a you know what.

The Orthodox are only now speaking up because their own gerim are being rejected. But all the years that us Reform, Renewal, Reconstructionist, and Conservative converts weren’t good enough to immigrate, or aren’t good enough to marry… were perfectly okay.  It’s almost amusing that the Orthodox in the Diaspora thought they were special enough to be spared the increasingly ridiculous requirements and stringincies.  Maybe as the holiday celebrating the courage to claim your identity and to do what you know is right settles upon us, the American Orthodox rabbinical community could humble itself enough to consider the true meaning of klal Yisrael and be willing to partner with our organizations to work to ensure that all Jews who wish to make aliyah have the opportunity to do so.

Say what?!

A couple of weeks ago, I saw an event listed in the NEXT enewsletter that I get for young adults in the Bay Area.  I’ve not been on Birthright, but I figure this would be a good way to meet Jews my age that are involved with their Judaism in their own way.

One event, hosted last night, was about the Jews of India.  Considering my BFF is Indian and we’re in the conversion class, I thought it would be great to go learn about the Jewish communities in a country she is familiar with.

I know I’m a nerd and would probably be the only one super excited about a 30 minute documentary or lecture on the topic followed my socializing and mingling.  I’m just super disappointed that of the entire 3 hour event, 15 minutes were spent sharing facts about our “assigned” community of India.  The rest of the time was clearly meant for socializing.  Which is fine, but then I feel the event should clearly state that.

Once socializing did happen, my sense of Otherness was totally reinforced.  One person started talking about Gentiles who use Yiddish words and how that really annoys him.   I almost choked on my daal.  Some Yiddish words have made it into the English vernacular–chutzpah, schlep and schmuk are English (at least American English) words now.  They do not belong to Jews or Gentiles.  Claiming ownership of language really revealed how ignorant of language he is.  All languages are changed by their speakers and the speakers of other languages that they encounter.  I really felt like asking if he thought only Spanish people should be allowed to say alligator or if only French people should be allowed to say ballet.  Maybe only Arabs own pajamas and Indians khakis?  I didn’t feel comfortable outting myself at that point, so I kept quiet, but it was really offputting.

I did meet a Fellow though, who I wouldn’t mind hanging out with again.  She goes to the Orthodox synagogue around the block from my own; I said we should go to each other’s one time and she seemed into it.  I’d love a buddy before showing up at Orthodox services for the first time.

Oh, and I’m in the editing stages of my conversion essay.  I’m hoping to have it all done by Sunday.  We’ll see.  Shabbat shalom y’all.

For once in my life, I’m speechless.

I’m struggling to write a conversion essay/statement. I’ve never had so much difficulty forming coherent sentences and stringing them together. I think I have suich a high expectation set on myself by none other than yours truly that I have a great fear of letting myself down and having this decade-long journey end on such a mediocre point. I don’t want that at all, so I’m struggling to capture my thoughts, my desires, my identity on a page, trying to make me sound worthy enough of entrance into this coveted community (coveted at least by me).

It’s hard. Damn hard. Harder than I expected it to be. So right now, instead of writing on it, I’m writing here.