Not in my back yard

Yesterday morning, as parishioners gathered to celebrate Ash Wednesday, it was discovered that a Catholic Church in my hometown was defaced and vandalized.  They broke a wood cross, spray-painted on the sides of the building, and defaced statues of Mary and Joseph.

The media coverage has been swift and thorough.  They report that clergy from other faiths have reached out to the community on one of their most important days and that the police are investigating this crime. 

Hate crimes are tools of intimidation that have no place in a democratic society.  Cowardly vandalism is not the appropriate method of dealing with any issues a person might have with the Catholic Church, or a member of this congregation.

I don’t know what kind of society we live in anymore.  Sure, my hometown has its racial tensions, but we’ve always been pretty tight knit given our size.  I can’t believe people would do this here.  Or that people break into mosques and urinate on prayer mats.  Or that  last winter, the Jewish community back east witnessed a string of vandalism.  It’s unacceptable.

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A Jewish Home

This weekend, The Boy and I went to his hometown. We’re staying with his parents for a few days and he’s showing me around places important to him and meeting his friends.

We got in late last night, around 11 by the time we pulled into the driveway. There’s a mezuzah on the door to the garage. And one on the laundry room. And one on the bedroom. There’s Hebrew spoken by his parents and brother. There are Jewish paintings and artwork. There are Jewish and Israeli magnets on the fridge. The dining room curio cabinet has a seder plate and candlesticks. Kippot spread across the dining room table. The family room’s bookcase and cd organizer is peppered with English and Hebrew alphabets.

It’s just enough to know this is a home of a Jewish family that takes their Judaism seriously. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be able to create the same home environment…without my convert’s enthusiasm putting me in the awkwardly loud’n’proud rah rah group or the analysis paralysis preventing there from being any at all.

Shabbat shalom y’all.

Please help me send one of my Birthright trip mates back to Israel.

I’m asking all of you for a big favor right now. There is a guy on my Birthright trip, let’s call him Moshe, that grew up a half-black/half-Ashkenazi Jew in LA. We’re talking teffillin-laying, Shabbes-keeping, kosher-eating Jew who has had his Judaism questioned every single day that he walked into a synagogue because of the color of his skin. He and his brother have a difficult relationship with Judaism as a result: how can they feel so drawn to HaShem and yet so rejected by their people, G-d’s people?

They apply to Birthright. Moshe gets to go. His brother does not.

Mikvah Bound meets Moshe on their Birthright trip. Though they come from wildly different social circles, being the only two “non-Ashkenazi” on the trip, there is a mutual understanding that cannot be denied. Jews of Color do not experience the same things that converts do, but let’s face it, we’re both outside of the norm of “typical Ashkenazi American Jew”.

Let’s say that during this 10 day trip, Moshe took more than 5,000 pictures and more than 15 hours of video footage. That he then assembled, thanks to his Hollywood industry skills, into a 90 second clip that is entered into a contest promoting our Birthright trip organizer, Israel Free Spirit. This contest has a cash prize that could send Moshe and his brother, let’s say Aaron, back to Israel, together, to study and to rock the Jews that they are.

So, once again, I pester my readers. PLEASE go here. Please vote once a day, on multiple devices if possible, for the next 10 days. Please send them back to the Holy Land. Please acknowledge that this video looks amazingly professional and manages to capture the beauty of Israel and the deep connection between Israelis and Americans.

Todah.

EDIT TO ADD: I am clearly brain dead. He is number 9. Thanks for bringing this to my attention kind reader!