Training Wheels Off

I have this thing about selling back books. Some (admittedly ridiculous) part of me feels like selling them somehow removes the deposited knowledge from my brain. And yet, as an avid reader, I always forced myself to go through a biannual purge of my bookshelf. I don’t want to think about the results if I didn’t. The TV show Hoarders comes to mind.

As you might imagine, over the course of ten years, I have managed to acquire quite a few books about Judaism. I’d estimate around 100. Many of them were various authors’ attempts at a Judaism 101 text, and thus redundant after the second or third purchase. But there were also texts on Jewish prayers. Jewish history. Jewish philosophy. And even after my tenth Judaism 101 purchase, I was always amazed to see how this author’s presentation of the Jewish calendar, or this one’s explanation of a ritual object just made so much more sense.

These were always too precious for me to consider as candidates for the purge. They represented some sense of Jewish authenticity and Jewish identity for me, I suppose. I may not know an answer to a question, but chances are I could locate one shortly! I’m dedicated, can’t you see? I’m taking this process seriously! I love books!

I’m moving soon. In an effort to make that task as easy as possible, I’ve set myself tasks for each weekend. Today’s was one of many looming purges. When I looked at my bookcase though, I knew I felt differently about my Jewish library today.

I knew it was time to take off my training wheels. I’ve been coasting confidently for a year now. I am a Jew. I don’t need to prove that to anyone, but especially not to myself. I’ve marked Jewish time and kept Jewish space. It was a bittersweet realization and recognition of how far I’ve come.

I’ve culled my library. What remains are reference books, siddurim, and a few favorites I couldn’t bear to part with. The rest were toted off to Half-Priced books. And I didn’t even hesitate when dropping them off.

Today I learned that a decade of Jewish education is worth $42.

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.

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.


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

I had to turn off the interwebs yesterday.

Everything was going fine yesterday until I checked Facebook at lunch.  First I read a story about a small Baptist Church in Kentucky that voted recently to not allow interracial couples to join as members.  Sure, they could come to worship, but they couldn’t participate in any services unless it was a funeral.  I’m not sure why that matters to the church, why a funeral is different than regular Sunday worship or baptisms or marriages.  But it apparently does.  And they want you to know, of course, that they’re not racist! They’re just… this isn’t appropriate.  Or something.

It took me a while to calm down.  It boggles my mind that in 2011 we are still having these discussions, even in rural Kentucky appalachia. What’s even more disgusting is that 9 people voted for this, 6 people voted against, and approximately 25 other people in attendance “abstained” from voting at all.  I’m sorry, is this a convoluted gray issue? Are you too chicken-shit to call out your “brothers in Christ” on their crazy stupid idea that some of us are “more” or “better” Children of G-d than others, based on pigmentation levels in skin?  I guess the one benefit of stumbling across this article is that it provides excellent ammunition for the next person I meet who denies that racism is still alive and well in this country.

But then, I realize another of my friends posted this article from the Atlantic about an ad campaign airing “in at least five American communities that warn Israeli expatriates that they will lose their identities if they don’t return home.”  Okay.  Fair enough.  The pressure to assimilate can be strong, I get that, and we ARE two different cultures and societies.  But then I actually watched the videos.  I’ll let them speak for themselves:

(I guess the one small benefit is that I could read 75% of the Hebrew on the screen and understood about half of it.)  This Yom HaZikaron ad is at once hilarious and perplexing.  The male actor looks nothing like 90% of Jewish young adult men I’ve met in my life (save the Renewal crew in the Berkeley area…), what with his long pony tail and awkward accent and intonation when speaking in English.  And why is this guy supposed to read her mind? Why is she not capable of saying “Hey, you know what, I’m not all that interested in hanging out with friends tonight.  Today is Israel’s Memorial Day, and I always feel sad about all the lives that were lost in the wars and how my cousin was affected by his time in the IDF. Can we just stay home and let me have some space?”

Instead, this ad makes it seem like American significant others are deliberately obtuse or that Israelis live on some other planet and are alien creatures that are impossible to relate to.

I’m sorry, but what?! If little Nuraleh doesn’t understand the significance of Chanukah (and of COURSE the government chose the holiday specifically about assimilation!), isn’t that the fault of the “will always remain Israeli” parents?  The parents who haven’t taught their Jewish daughter enough about Judaism or Jewish identity?  I know plenty of Jewish kids in America who wouldn’t fail that “test” administered by the grandparents. But once again, no, it’s our American Jewish culture and education that’s inadequate, not at all the precious Israeli parents.

It’s a backhanded slap in the face to American Jews and I can’t believe the Israeli government ever thought this was a good idea. Klal Yisrael and Am Israel! Right?! Not.

I think I’ll just copy and paste the last paragraph of the Atlantic article here to finish my thoughts on the matter:

These government-sponsored ads suggest that it is impossible for Jews to remain Jewish in America. How else are we supposed to understand the “Christmas” ad? Obviously, assimilation and intermarriage are issues in America in ways they aren’t in Israel. Israel has other problems of course, such as the fact that many of its rabbis act like Iranian mullahs. (I’m not even going to try to unpack my complicated beliefs about intermarriage and assimilation and life in the Diaspora here; that’s for a book. But let me just say that intermarriage can also be understood as an opportunity.)

The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik (if you don’t mind me resorting to the vernacular). The message is: Dear American Jews, thank you for lobbying for American defense aid (and what a great show you put on at the AIPAC convention every year!) but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters.

Stolen from Jewminicana: “Talking to Converts”

I stumbled upon this post on B’Tzelem Elohim last month and totally forgot to post it.  I think it should be required reading for all members of the tribe. 

Don’t ask.
The number one question you want to ask a convert is exactly the question you shouldn’t. Asking someone why they converted, just after meeting them, is a little like asking to see their underwear. It’s like you’re asking us to get very naked about something deeply personal when we’ve just met. Like anything else, wait until you really get to know someone before expecting them to bare their souls. People will often let you see the skeletons in their closets when they’re comfortable with you.

Don’t tell.
If a convert does tell you about her conversion, that doesn’t mean it’s your story to tell. My friend Danielle says her former roommate told everyone Danielle was a convert. Danielle didn’t want people to know (and no, not because she was embarrassed about it). It just wasn’t her roommate’s story to tell. I know you’re wondering, “Why can’t I tell someone that Danielle is a convert, it’s a fact!” Remember how Judaism feels about gossip? What if people were discussing your personal business behind your back without your permission? Indeed, the Talmud (Bava Metzia 58b-59b) forbids us from oppressing converts by treating them as anything other than a regular member of the tribe.

Remember, no one looks like a convert.
“James William? That’s not a very Jewish name!” People of color and blondes with oh-so-blue eyes, the “exotic” faces in the Ashkenazi Jewish fold, frequently get questions like this that try to get around directly asking, “Are you a convert?” In The Color of Jews, Yavilah McCoy, whose ancestors were converts, says, “When I walk into a room and say to people I meet ‘I’m Jewish’ often I will get the response ‘but you’re Black.'” Since when are the two mutually exclusive? People often make offensive racial assumptions about Jews (and converts) of color. Just like we’re not all named Rosenberg, one convert of color says it’s helpful to note that “Judaism is not a ‘race’ of white people. One of the things people should be mindful of is not to assume all people of color in the synagogue are converts (or the help, for that matter).”

Converts are not therapists.
The worst is when “Why did you convert?” turns into “Why would anyone convert to Judaism?”
We’re converts, not therapists. We’re not here to help you figure out why you can’t imagine that people would find Judaism so amazing that they’d turn their lives upside down just to be a part of it. If you’re staring at us in disbelief, you may not be prepared to hear the answers.

It wasn’t for marriage.
After I met my husband midway through the conversion process, I noticed that people stopped asking me why I had decided to convert. They just assumed I was doing it for him. Okay, but I’m off the hook, right? I wasn’t part of a couple when I first made my decision so obviously I did it for the right reasons? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Just because someone is or was in a relationship doesn’t mean that they’re converting for marriage. Things are always way more complicated than that.

People convert for many reasons. My friend Vilma says, “Often people assume someone converted due to marriage. As if people couldn’t make up their independent minds to join a faith! There are people with whom Judaism resonates and [they] find their home in the religion. There are single people who convert. There are people who convert to reclaim their family heritage. There are so many reasons people convert.” And remember, none of them are any of your business.

Goy jokes are not funny.
But one reason that frequently gets thrown around and isn’t very nice, and doesn’t work so well for someone from a non-Jewish family, is the idea that we converted to Judaism because Jews are just better than everyone else. One fellow told me that all that inbreeding has led to all those Nobel Prize winners. So, what, I’m polluting the sacred bloodlines? Sadly, people don’t think twice about whether a convert is sitting in their midst when they tell the latest “How many goyim does it take to put in a light bulb?” joke.

 Words like shiksa and shaygetz, both derivations of dirty in Yiddish, don’t make converts feel welcome either. (And note from MikvahBound, if you call me shiksa, especially to my face, I can’t promise to control my fist very well as it lands in your face.) Blondes with blue eyes, converts or not, tend to hear these words more often than converts like me with olive skin and big brown eyes. Still, my first Pesah went south after someone repeatedly threw the word shiksa around along with some other ugly words about non-Jews. At the first bar mitzvah I attended jokes about non-Jews were flying all over the place.

And don’t forget to say, “You’re welcome.”
There are things I still can’t believe people have said to me. Fresh out of the mikvah, I heard, “But you’re not really Jewish. I mean I’m still more Jewish than you, right?” Oy vey. In the end, all converts want to be accepted as good Jews. We want to fit in. Possibly the reason Jewish tradition goes out of its way to tell you to be kind to us is that there are so many ways you can make us feel left out. It only takes one insensitive word. So, be careful with us. Changing our lives to join your ranks should at the very least earn us a little respect. And maybe even a “Welcome home.”

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.

Mikvah Bound

The Day

I had planned for this day for years.  But the specifics of the day were only planned a week in advance.  I was supposed to be off work at 5:30.  I was supposed to get on BART’s 5:56 train and be home by 7:00.  I was supposed to scrub the bathroom sparkly clean and then begin the checklist process of scrubbing from head to toe, with the new loofah and nail scrubbing brush I had purchased specifically for all future mikvah dunks.

But, Man plans and G-d laughs.  I had to stay late at work.  I didn’t get home until close to 9.  When I got home, I was touched to see that my mom had cleaned the bathroom for me, so I could get straight into the cleaning process.  I had found an OCD checklist (literally) for preparation and followed it to a T.

I bathe every day; my morning shower helps wake me up.  I’ve been doing this for 20 something years on my own now.  But this one just felt… SO different. It really does help put you in the right frame of mind, to set apart this bath from all others.  I’d never really understood the appeal of bubble baths either, but this may have been the closest I got to understanding the ability to de-stress, to concentrate on just the physical, to relax, to reclaim.  An hour later, I was ready for the mikvah. Continue reading

Two Topics For the Price of One

Lunch meeting:  I met with Sister’s Friend last week.  And I have decided that this encounter should be firmly lodged in the good ole memory bank as an example of the mind being a dangerous thing when left to wander and ponder!  Judaism hardly came up while we were enjoying delicious burritos (in the Tenderloin… which I seriously need to reconsider if suggesting places to tourists in the future, note to self, especially petite young women who are fairly attractive…).  But, when it did come up, she didn’t question my motives or authenticity.  If anything, the small portion of Jewish conversation centered around us both being a 20-something Jew-ette in a big city.  Oh, and Birthright.  Which I will discuss below.  Like, immediately below.

Birthright:  I was really conflicted for a long time on whether I could go on this.  Not only was I concerned about my conversion “working” for Taglit’s eligibility requirements (because we all know people can say one thing publicly but have very different criteria in private), but I guess I was also conflicted politically.

Israel’s no saint.  It is my sinner, however, and it’s got a lot of work to do.  I just want an organization that could acknowledge the complexity of the situation, honestly, as much as they have their own bias.  Bias is human, afterall.  I wasn’t sure if I could deal with Taglit’s propaganda tactics, which from many blog posts I have read written by participants, verged on military bootcamp.  I also know I’m like practically alone in my introverted-natured-inspired hatred of Nightlife that centers on drinking, nightclubs, house music and dancing.  I was born a 90-year-old woman, what can I say?

But, I’ve decided that all decisions require compromise and I can compromise on this trip.  I can deal with 10 intense days on a bus route to carefully selected and presented tourist traps that may push me out of my comfort zone—because I am, after all, getting something in return.  I don’t know if I would get to go to Israel in the next ten years were it not for this trip, and I have suffered from a pretty strong case of wanderlust in the last five years.  I know plenty of people have found their spouse on this trip, which speaks to the bonds that can be forged.  (No, I do not want to find Mr. Mikvah Bound on this.  Yes, I would like to meet other Jews my age from around the country with different Jewish identities and perspectives.)

So.  I am looking for a mostly religious-historical-cultural trip with minimal outdoor excursions if anyone has a trip organizer they can recommend.  I’m seriously leaning toward Israel Free Spirit, the OU-sponsored organizer, because I’ve heard they attract a mellower crowd.  We’ll see.

Hebrew: My Hebrew class is going well! I listen to the CDs in my car on repeat.  Needless to say, I have the dialogs pretty much memorized and I’m sure the Boy would like to listen to something other than the alphabet and dialogs asking where the water is from.

I’ve set up the following schedule, and, being the nerd I am, actually like the feeling of being back in school.

  • Monday: Read section on way home
  • Tuesday: Review section, take notes, and make flash cards
  • Wednesday: Do half of exercises
  • Thursday: Complete remaining exercises
  • Friday: Review flash cards for 30 minutes
  • Saturday: Review flash cards for 30 minutes
  • Sunday: Review session with study buddy and take quiz

Conversion Requirements:

I stumbled across a synagogue in a nearby metro-area in my Google Alerts the other day.  I, of course, checked out the conversion section of the website and was kind of… blown away.  And not necessarily in a good way.  The rabbi had uploaded a 30+ page “Intro packet” listing the required books, meetings, classes, essays, questions, beit din topics, and syllabus.  This is appealing to me.  I like knowing what I’m getting into, what to expect.  It helps lower the anxiety of it all.

What I did not like was that this rabbi, who belongs to a liberal movement, required prospective converts to meet with the Orthodox rabbi in the area.  You are required to ask three specific questions, one of which is “would you accept me as a Jew after my conversion?”

I think the rationale is for the convert to know, going in, that he or she will not be accepted everywhere, and that you have to make your peace with that.  Totally understand that, because I’ve heard of Jews who converted only to discover this after the fact (I don’t know how, but that’s another post).

But, why can’t the liberal rabbi say this him or herself?  Why do they have to go to some other rabbi, from another movement, who does not have the monopoly on Jewish religious authority, to hear this, as though they were the real gatekeepers?

I was majorly turned off.  It got me to thinking: what would have been your “uh, no go”s from rabbis who were sponsoring your conversions?

Okay, so I lied.  More like four for the price of one.

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

If you’re like most internet-savvy converts(-to-be) that I know, you at one point or another visited  It started up 3 to 4 years ago as a blog with posts from various converts and grew to include a forum that was very active, particularly from those of the Conservative and Conservadox persuasion.  Many friendships were forged over its channels and a sense of fitting in, of not being the only one feeling or thinking these things, comforted many of its users.

That site is now gone.  It has been shut down.  On a couple of different sites, I’ve seen people ask about it.  Suffice to say, the project was large, overwhelming, and the efforts of those creating it were probably under-appreciated.  These sentiments were poorly conveyed to the site’s general users, and now we’ve all lost a great resource, rather suddenly, and with no explanation.

I’ve belonged, for a number of years, to two other communities that I’d like to recommend as possible alternatives should any reader stumble upon this post.

LiveJournal’s Jews By Choice: a mostly 20s to 30s crowd overwhelmingly from the US but also with a decent British presence.  Most are egalitarian, liberal, feminist  Reform/Progressive or Conservative/Masorti, but there are a sprinkled few Orthodox in the mix with various worldviews.

Gereitzedek: a mostly 40s to 70s crowd overwhelmingly from the US but also with Latin American and Israeli participation.  Most are egalitarian, conservative Conservative/Masorti, but there are a good number of Reform and Orthodox as well.  Really good for converts who live in the “boondocks”—many members share their life in the rural areas of the US, or doing conversion online, of moving to Israel, of having raised a Jewish family as a convert.  Interesting to read to consider the future, at least for me.

I’ve found these good homes, and my hope is that one of them may speak to you as well.  If you’d like to join LiveJournal’s, you have to make a LiveJournal account (which is free).  This will enable you to “journal” or blog, and also grant you access to many, many communities on a whole host of topics.  I also recommend Weird Jews and Weird Jews 2.

To join Gereitzedek, write to me with your email address at mikvahorbust at gmail dot com.  I will send an email to the administrator of the board, and she’ll probably ask for a 2 to 3 sentence blurb to make sure you aren’t some anti-Semitic spammer, but then you’ll be in.