Kakatuv

Is it strange that West Coast me still managed to send 3/4 of my Rosh HaShannah cards to New York? Hmm…

To all y’all, Happy, Happy New Year!  I wish you a sweet and prosperous year.  May this year build upon last year’s highs and fail to repeat last year’s lows.  5771 was pretty darn good to me–I became a Jew! I still managed to have a job in this economy! I met The Boy!–, and it’s hard to imagine that HaShem might have something even better than all that for me in store for 5772.

I’ll see you in 5772–probably collapsed on the couch with a pillow in my hand come Sunday–and will do my best to post my 10Q responses here during Yamim Nora’im.  I recommend you sign up to participate if you’ve never done so–really a great tool for introspection.

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Yiddishkeit

One of the Boy’s friends was in town this weekend.  We played tour guide to the Panhandle’s brunch scene, the Golden Gate bridge (note to self: bring ear muffs and thicker jacket if there’s a next time), and the late-night-strange-ness of the Mission.  The Friend of the Boy had been up here many times but his girlfriend had not, despite growing up in LA.

Over the course of the weekend, I think that that girlfriend and this girlfriend had a hard time keeping up with the conversation between three computer programmers (The Boy’s roommate joined us for a while.)  They used words that were definitely English… but I could not define them if my life depended on it.  So there was lots of sitting around quietly while they bonded over shared industry horrors and feats.

I also kept quiet because Friend of the Boy kept commenting on the Boy’s size, and momma bear fangs were out in full force.  Like, you’ve known him for a while now, since college at least.  You know he’s lactose intolerant.  You know he’s not the biggest guy as a result.  So stop bringing up his body.  I don’t know if this is some weird dynamic of male friendships or placing each other on some hierarchy where big tall dude =manly and skinny average-height dude = sissy or something.  But I do know that it required me to consciously tune out the conversation at least three times before I inserted myself into it in unpleasant and possibly unrepairable ways.

But during brunch, it came up that Friend of the Boy was interested in geneology.  His dad wasn’t volunteering much information about his side of the family, but Friend did know that his mom was a Jew.  Ah, finally something that I could talk about!

The Boy and I both said simultaneously, “and what about her mom?”

“Also a Jew.”

And in stereo, once again, “Then you’re a Jew, too.”

As the Friend is a self-declared ADHD individual, the topic quickly changed and moved to something else.  But later in the day, while waiting around for The Boy to find parking, out of the blue, “I know we talked about this earlier, but I just wanted to say, I’m not a Jew. I’m an atheist.”

“You are a Jew to me.  You are an atheist Jew. There are also cultural and religious and secular and agnostic.  We’re all Jews.”

“But I don’t consider myself to be one.”

“If I needed to say kaddish, I’d count you in the minyan.”

“I have no idea what that means.”

I think Judaism’s concept of Jewish-ness is one of the hardest to explain to non-Jews or Jews who weren’t raised with any sort of Judaism.  Sometimes it’s frustrating. “So like, pretend your mom is an American citizen but she gave birth to you in say Zimbabwe….”

 

Work Conversations

Yesterday, we had our weekly staff meeting.

Boss Lady: Okay, and as a head’s up, Mikvah Bound will be out of the office next week on Thursday and Friday.

Coworker 1: Oh, nice, where are you going? Weekend getaway?

Mikvah Bound: No, I’ll be going to my synagogue.  It’s Rosh HaShannah.

[Coworker 2’s eyes grow to be the size of Guam as his face reddens]

Boss Lady: Coworker 2, are you okay?

Coworker 2:  My wife is going to be so mad at me!  She wanted me to ask for that day off… like a month ago.

Coworker 1: That day? [eyes Mikvah Bound suspiciously] Why does he need one and you need two?

Mikvah Bound: I’m Conservative. We do two days.  That’s how we roll.

Coworker 2: My wife and kids go to a Reform temple.  They do one.

Boss Lady: Interesting… so you want Thursday or Friday off?

Coworker 2: Thursday.  Oh, and Wednesday, can I leave early? About an hour?

Mikvah Bound: Ooh, me too.

Coworker 1: Now you’re just being greedy!

Mikvah Bound:  The holiday actually starts Wednesday night, at sundown.  There will be services then, too.

Boss Lady: How long is this holiday?!

Mikvah Bound:   One day.  But Jewish days start at dusk and go from sundown to sundown.  Back in the olden days, people outside of Israel couldn’t determine the correct lunar date with accuracy, so they decided to add one to be sure they celebrated on the right day.

Coworker 1: So what do you do to celebrate?

Mikvah Bound: Go to synagogue a lot.   Eat a lot.  Like most any other holiday.

Boss Lady: Huh, so do some people do it three days?

Coworker 2: No, not that I’ve ever heard…

Boss Lady:  So why does Lawyer Lady upstairs need three days then?

Coworker 2: Ah, her family is Orthodox. Who knows what they do!

Mikvah Bound:  Orthodox do it two days, too.  So I bet her mom is going kinda crazy right now and needs lots of last minute meal help on Wednesday during the day, before sundown.  We can’t cook on holidays—

Coworker 1: So an important part of this holiday is food, but you can’t cook it?

Mikvah Bound: Well, we gotta cook it before and then keep it warm during the holidays, but without starting a fire.

Boss Lady: This sounds… wonderful.

Mikvah Bound: It’s not so bad normally.  But this year we have Shabbat RIGHT after, so her mom has to make three days’ worth of meals, since we can’t cook on Shabbat either.  So three days’ worth of meals all cooked before Wednesday at dusk.

Coworker 1: You people are crazy and masochistic!

Mikvah Bound: But wait, I haven’t even told you about the fast day that was supposed to fall on Saturday, but is being pushed to Sunday this year!

Rosh HaShannah Prep Mode

It has begun.

And it is crazy.

I’ve had baby showers coming out of my ears and Sister’s wedding plans.  Work is crazy and I don’t know what will happen in two weeks.  This means that what I should probably have started three weeks ago… has to be done in a week.  Sounds like fun.  Don’t be jealous.

I’ve ordered some greeting cards.  I’ve started considering maybe doing a “Third Night RH/Shabbat” dinner on the 30th.  Need to ask The Boy and his roommate to see if I can use their place to hold it, however.  But being guys, I think a quick glance at intended menu will tilt them to yes.  Also, if you are in the area and don’t already have a Yom Tov invite, please send me an email and I’d be happy to have you (once I receive The Boy’s permission).

But, what am I most nervous about?  Helping with Children’s Programming at shul.  What would you want your 9-year-old to learn about Rosh HaShannah?  What’s a good physical activity to break up an hour-long child’s service that’s still educational?  How do I ‘teach’ something to a kid when I never encountered Judaism as one?  These are all whizzing through my mind while skimming the materials provided to us.  I’ve taught public school before; why is Hebrew so difficult?!

Please consider helping a fellow blogger get to Israel!

http://www.blackgayjewish.com/ is the blog of Erika Davis, a good virtual friend of mine. We started our blogs around the same time. We are now Jews. And she applied for a scholarship to go to Israel. And she won. It covers 10 days of expenses in country, she just has to buy the plane ticket. She was laid off in June.

Hence, I know the economy is bad, but if you are in the position to help, I’d be incredibly appreciative, and so would she.

Id you can’t please post so your friends can consider.

Birthright

Any prayers you can muster for my application to rest delicately and favorably on the ears of the Taglit-Birthright gods would be much appreciated. Part 1 of my application was sent off yesterday.

For those that would like to go in the future, I recommend you open up and start an application during this application cycle. Stop at the section in Part 1 where you have to provide the deposit. Then, every application period in the future, that trip organizer you “opened” the app with will email you a month (and weeks… and days) in advance, letting you know that you can apply a day before it opens up to everyone, because you are a “returning applicant.” They give preference to those who are returning (just like they give slight preference for those who are approaching the maximum age limit.)  And you can change the trip organizer in the future if you decide the one you opened the initial app with is not for you.

Now I wait for part 2 of the application. And think of a way to introduce my parents to this trip and convince them I won’t die while visiting Israel. Because they only read the news.

Haters gonna hate

And man, am I hating today.

I know I shouldn’t. I know it’s Elul and precisely the time I should be turning inside to check myself before I wreck myself.

But there is this sorta-kinda friend, a high school classmate of my Bro-In-Law-To-Be, that makes me want to scream every time she mentions Judaism.

She is a Christian. An Assemblies of G-d Christian who writes wonderfully Christian Facebook posts like “Has never been more grateful for Jesus’ death & the LIFE that came when He rose again! Happy Easter!” and is thankful that it looks like she may have a pew buddy for worship.

That’s cute. That’s very Easter-y. It’s very Christian-y. I’m glad her faith means so much to her and that the holidays really speak to her and that community is important to her.

She interned at Hillel a few years back, however, and I wish she never had. I know it’s WRONG but I’m always really skeptical of Christians that want to learn more about Judaism. I’m horrible, I know, I’m always talking about how the Majority needs to check its privilege and try to understand what it’s like to be the Minority. But strangely, the Christians that do this never seem to learn where the line called “Approriate” is drawn.

Through the internship, she made lots of Jewish friends and knew she wanted to learn more.

So she signed up for the JCC’s Intro Course. What does she call this class? “My Jew class.” As in, arguing with Jews about the importance of holidays, and when proved incorrect, “apologizes” by saying “Oh, I must not remember my notes from Jew Class!”

Or, when wanting to hang out with the friends she made there, she’ll write them, “wanna be Jews on Friday?” meaning, can we go to Kabbalat Shabbat services?

Apparently she doesn’t know the history of this word. Or that epithets in general tend to be monosyllabic with harsh consonants because they are easier to spit out of your mouth in that certain condescending, patronizing, hateful tone.

And she goes to services so often that she wrote a D’var Torah. This bothers me. D’vrei Torah are typically given from the bimah. That, to me, is something only for Jews. If this were a Torah study class, and we’re all talking about what a parsha means to us, or what we learned from it, I have no problem with people of other faiths giving their views and gleanings. Maybe it’s my own sense of decency, but I would never agree to give the equivalent of the sermon, which, let’s face it, the D’vrei Torah have become on Friday nights, in someone else’s worship service. Give a lecture? Attend a class? Cool. Sermon giving? Not cool. In my not humble opinion.

This somewhat friend even once wrote “off to [services] with [A Dude] and {Another Friend], but won’t be allowed to sit with them 😦 my first segregated Shabbat! I do love being Jewish :)”

I do believe I flipped my mother fricken lid.

That fb post was too much for me. I responded snarkily, “Since when did you dunk in the mikvah?” and her response was “No mikvah for me… I def play for Team Jesus 🙂 still love a good Shabbat tho :)”.

My blood pressure was too high to respond further. You’re not a Jew. Saying you are, as though it’s an outfit that you can dress up with or take off at your convenience is not okay. It is not okay because of the relationship and history between your religion and mine. It is not okay because converts work their butts off to become Jewish and are still questioned about their authenticity years later. It’s not okay because it sounds disgustingly fetish-ish, as though we’re some entertainment and not you know, actually worshipping G-d and keeping and remembering our Sabbath.

She’s leaving the area for work travel in a few days. Her friend responded to the Facebook post announcing this, and once again, this morning, I read Sorta Kinda Friend’s response of “Let’s be Jews on Friday!” I am two seconds away from responding. And it won’t be pretty.

Dear Sorta Kinda Friend,

You are not a Jew. PLEASE stop saying you are. It belittles the ten years of work I did to go before a bet din and to enter a mikvah. Worship services aren’t entertainment. The title Jew isn’t some play thing. Going to midnight mass doesn’t make me Catholic any more than Kabbalat Shabbat makes you Jewish. Have some damn respect. This isn’t funny. It’s infuriating.
Xoxox,

Mikvah Bound