Thoughts of one Conservative kallah

After The Boy and I discussed marriage, I mustered the courage to show him a ring I really wanted him to purchase. This, of course, was after I had consulted with my rabbi to ensure it fulfilled the halachic requirements. And when he proposed, it was with the ring I fell in love with on Etsy while helping another friend search for her own engagement ring. Yay!

In one of our earliest conversations with our rabbi, he suggested that I stop wearing the ring about a month prior to the wedding. This was to ensure that The Boy could buy the ring back from me and thus own it outright on the day of the wedding (yes, the poor guy had to pay for it twice because I didn’t want an engagement and wedding ring!)

But more importantly, Rabbi wanted me to truly appreciate the distinction and “set apartness” of kedusha, of to borrow horribly from our Christian friends, holy matrimony. So last night, I handed over my ring and got paid in quarters. And my finger feels amazingly, weirdly bare right now. Exactly the opposite of the “heavy” feeling I had for a while back in December after the proposal.

In other news, I called up my local mikvah lady yesterday, the rebbetzin of the local MO shul. I was really nervous and blurted out “Hi, I’m MikvahBound, and I’m a Conservative convert and getting married in November and wanted to see if I could immerse in your mikvah?” She kinda chuckled, and then said yes, we don’t turn anyone away but tell me more about you and where you’re coming from. I blabbed on for a while more, I’m sure rather incoherently.

I think she was waiting to see if I’d taken a kallah course (just about typed challah, which would also be an amazing idea…) and when I didn’t mention it, she suggested Nishmat and reaching out to a local Conservative rebbetzin for other course recommendations that are specifically Conservative in nature. I really appreciated that – she might have been doing it because I’m not a Jew in her eyes and thus can’t really learn Torah from her – but the compassion in her voice was such that she still wanted me work within my own community. Did I mention that this is also the MO community that allows local non-Ortho to complete their dunks in their mikvah, all while having a sign that more or less indicates just because you dunk here doesn’t mean you count here. Well, in nicer words than that.

So I set about finding these Conservative kallah course materials and couldn’t find anything. Sure there are mentions of them in Observant Life and Klein’s Guide but not much else besides the responsa. So now I’m kinda stuck. I emailed my rabbi, and I tweeted at some rabbis (local and not) that I respect, but now I’m waiting. I’m not opposed to taking the Nishmat course, but I also know that it won’t always agree with modern, egal, Conservative worldview either. Like the section on shalom bayis in Nishmat, for example, said that I should never speak against his parents, even if he complains about them, because it will sound different coming from me. I get that, I do, but if they treat her poorly and treat him fine, what then? Never bring that up to him because it would be complaining about them? Or are complaints about their behavior okay? Wish they had included more than one sentence on this subject.

Of course, my favorite part so far has been the example of a husband’s mother walking into the home without knocking. They recommend saying to the husband something like, “Perhaps we could ask your mother to knock before entering the home?” Yeah, fat chance of that happening. A woman with those kinds of boundary issues is not going to listen to polite “suggestions.” G-d forbid you assertively demand respect! “Your mother enters our home without knocking. That is rude and disrespectful and needs to stop. Will you speak to her about this or should I?” Why are healthy boundaries and assertiveness vilified? Ugh.

So yeah. Any ideas from Conservative sources? Or like, really Modern MO sources?

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