Memberships, Praying, and Ivrit

I mailed my membership application off to CBS today. I practiced my Hebrew name in Hebrew script on a notepad until it look like someone semi-literate wrote it.  It’s hard to believe that I get a vote now, that I’m official, that I get to belong, that I’m choosing to support one place over all others and call it mine, my home, my community. It’s also hard to believe that my excuse is now gone and that I need to claim ownership and actually, well support it beyond financial means. I signed up for a couple of committees and will help out for High Holiday programming for the kiddos again. We’ll see what else I end up doing.

Secondly, this week Eit Ratzon arrived and I’ve been using it for my prayers. I’m in love with it. I will write the author and ask to use pictures in a review/writeup, but if you’re looking for an egalitarian siddur with transliteration and gender-neutral language, with spirit and poetry, I can’t speak highly enough of it. The author apparently released a machzor this year, as well. It’s really helped me at least open the prayer book once a day–Sim Shalom just never really seemed to work for me, in its attempt to maintain letter over spirit of the law and it’s love of He and Him.

I’m wondering if other converts say sheasani Yisrael in the morning, and if they do, whether it comes naturally to them or feels slightly clunky on their tongues.  Did G-d make me Jewish?  Or did I (through the mechanisms of the Jewish people) make myself Jewish? Does it matter who did the making?

I’ve started my actual studying of Hebrew this week.  I want to take a class–both for purposes of accountability and guidance–but the only one people seem to mention is USF’s July ulpan or the JCC’s class.   I’d love to take three weeks off in July and just buckle down but life just won’t allow it.  The pedagogy of the JCC instructor does not mesh well with my learning style, so I think I’d only be setting myself up for failure.  The text they use is apparently used in some of Israel’s ulpanim, however, and I happened to find a great resource for those of you want some more flexibility in scheduling: The Hebrew Cafe.  Looking for reviews and study guides of the text, I searched for the title of the text used by the JCC class, Hebrew from Scratch I, and found that forum.  From what I can tell, the site founder lives in Israel as a teacher and built this free online class using that text as a hobby, because he enjoys the language and helping people; what a mensch.  (I think he’s a convert to boot!)  If you can find a used copy of the book, you would be able to learn one year’s equivalent of Hebrew for free, by committing to 4 hours per week of studying and working with the study buddy you are paired with.  Seems like a great deal to me!

Shavuah tov

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3 thoughts on “Memberships, Praying, and Ivrit

  1. I really kind of want a review of Eit Ratzon. It’s kind of a fascinating siddur to me, with its “layman’s translation” and whatnot. I want pictures!

  2. Mazel tov, Nataliah, on the joining CBS. When we next see another, you’ll have to tell me what committees you’re on (I’m on 1 presently and, before long, 2 — and I have a feeling that you’ll be a part of the “2” since it’s another incarnation of the Young Adults Committee).

    Also, in my strange, decidedly mixed and hybrid Shacharit prayers, the sheasani Yisrael is not included. Oddly, it finds its place at the start of my Shabbat morning davening only. Daily davening is a very important part of my practice, but my prayers are, I admit, very all over the place, keyed into position my years of tweaking to achieve maximum focus and gratitude. I do intend to gradually work more traditional elements into the prayers, but I think what I really need for this is a davening tutor….and to comprehend Hebrew truly, something that is years off yet. (Please keep me posted on your Hebrew learning.)

    That ramble aside, the thrust of the sheasani Yisrael comes quite easily for me. My conception of G-d is decidedly monistic and panentheistic, so HaShem’s “making me” Jewish is not distinct from my making myself Jewish through “the mechanisms of the Jewish people.”

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