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?

It’s probably time to clean the cobwebs off

So, something like 2 months ago, I said I was going to update soon. And I lied. Not intentionally, of course. More like life happened.

My dad was suddenly unemployed. My parents were four months away from losing their home as a result. The home I grew up in. The home my parents will probably live in until their deaths. The one “assett” they had. They were angry at each other. Stressed. Afraid. It was miserable.

My employer for the last two years had finally received permission to open my position for permanent hire. And two days after I was told I was selected, the position was put on budget hold. Indefinitely. I had 2 months left on my contract before I was also facing unemployment.

Now, either one of these could probably be dealt with minimal stress using family, friends, and community for support. But receiving both bits of news within a week was really hard for my family.

And now, so many weeks later, we have received two good pieces of news within seven days as well: we’re both employed permanently again.

This means I get to move in with the Boy.
This means my parents are not going to be homeless.
This means we can sleep without worry.

Modah ani.

SOPA

I usually avoid political discussions on this blog. I feel they can alienate some readers and are the quickest way to insert my mouth into my foot in the heat of passion.

But, before the U.S. congress at this moment are two bills that I care so passionately about that I had to break my rule of thumb. So consider it more like a rule of pinky or something.

SOPA and PIPA are two bills before the U.S. Congress. They seek to reduce the amount of copyright infringement that occurs on the internet. A laudable goal in my opinion–I think the people that create content should be rewarded for the efforts and innovation.

But, granting a crazy-absurd amount of power to the entertainment industry, who suffers from ginormous amounts of infringement precisely because of their inability to understand the natural rhythms of the internet and their refusal to adapt to technology as it comes about, and to the DoJ, is NOT the way to do this.

These bills would allow *anyone* who reads Mikvah Bound, *or any of the websites LINKED to this site*, to deduce that I am infringing on someone’s copyrighted content. How did they reach this conclusion? What is their proof that this is copyrighted material? Who cares.

With this knowledge of Mikvah Bound’s copyright infringement, SOPA would allow them to contact WordPress, PayPal, Facebook, and Wikipedia to notify them of my infringement. I would have five days to submit my appeal of this notification to the Courts; alternatively, some kind soul at one of the legal teams of the sites mentioned above could decide to fight the fight for me in the courts. But, seriously, what is a corporation likely to do upon notification that Mikvah Bound is infringing: block access to my site as they would be required to do under this law to avoid legal fines and action OR kindly agree to fight my fight for me. Yeah, not going to happen!

There is nothing to prevent Hollywood (or any other industry or agenda-driven agency) from attacking all sites they dislike or disagree with. These accusations do not have to be launched in a public setting, i.e. a court of law. There are no punishments for those who abuse this law’s vaguely worded language, either, should I unfairly accuse innocent websites of infringement. They’ve got those five days to defend themselves after all; it’s their own fault if the accused choose not to do so.

So I am asking you, kind readers to contact your Congressmen (assuming you live in the US. Ameri-centrism ftw!). I am asking you to learn more about this bill and would its ramifications would truly be. I am asking you to consider blacking out your own site or posting your own banner until it is voted on, January 24th.

Thank you.

I need to start packing

Next week at this time, I will be in Israel. It hasn’t even sunk in yet.

The amount of clothes suggested for this 10 day trip is enough for a month for me. I’m not sure I even have 6 short-sleeved tshirts; and what would I do if I were there in the summer, where they suggest 12?!

Do people actually have that large a wardrobe?

And then I think, yes, of course, if my sister packs a 63 lb suitcase for a week at her inlaws, there are probably people with that many clothes.

Also, to bring my tallit and kippah or to not bring my tallit and kippah, that is the question. Will I have a chair thrown at me for wearing one at the Kotel? What will my OU trip organizer/Aish trip leader think?

Limmud Bay Area

I was so excited to hear that the Bay Area had finally gotten its Jewish act together and that this winter we would welcome Limmud to our stomping grounds. 

I found out last week that registration is $190, including the sessions, a hotel room, and 4 kosher meals, at a state beach/park in Monterey. Sounds loverly.

Except I thought I had read somewhere that it was being held in San Francisco? And that would mean days at Limmud and nights in the comfort of our own homes in the Bay Area without the added expense of a hotel room and kosher catering (for what I assume to be most of the participants anyway, though I suppose out of the area folks might be interested in coming).  Not having been to Limmud’s in the past, I guess I didn’t realize this was more of a retreat than a conference.

Now I have some weighing of options to calculate: long weekend in Jewish environment with some really rad Yids and the potential to make great connections and friendships, or weekend retreat by my little lonesome self.

Finally

My leave has finally, finally been approved. The parentals have been notified (they’re not too happy, but that’s what I expected).  My ticket to Birthright departure city has been purchased.  My foreign currency has been ordered.  Vaccines have been updated. 

I move forward with cell phones, travel insurance, and trying to actually remember the Hebrew I’ve learned in the last few months.

Horizon: line that recedes as your approach it

My leave request for the two weeks needed for Birthright has been (initially) rejected.

Three minutes after the email announcing that arrived, my manager sent another one, asking everyone in the office to submit their leave requests by COB today, begging us to be flexible while understanding that no leave request could be guaranteed unless there will be sufficient coverage for the office.   She emailed me privately after that to ask that I resubmit my request for consideration.

We are submitting our requests today, and our director will try to let us know by tomorrow, Wednesday afternoon, whether we’ve had our requests for time off approved or not.

The problem? Tomorrow morning, by 6 a.m., is the last opportunity for me to cancel my trip with BIrthright and get my $250 dollar deposit back.  It’s not the largest sum of money in the world, I know, but I am quite upset right now to say the least.

I have wanted this trip for years. I did not do “easy” conversions offered to me by two different rabbis for the purpose of having conversion papers that would enable me to go on this trip.  I waited.  I did the “right” thing.  This is my last opportunity to go before being aged out of the program.  This is also my first opportunity to go as a Jew who felt the process had been respected and that this conversion met my understanding of the halakhic requirements for conversion.

I get that we need to be fair.  I get that my wants are not more important than my coworkers’ wants.  But in this one instance, I can’t be flexible.  I need both of those weeks or else I can’t go. And I feel that I have been willing to be flexible in the past–when they inadvertently approved too much leave or people were out sick and the office was empty–to ensure office coverage, changing my schedule around when others needed it.  I get that since it is Christmas, it wouldn’t be fair to pressure my coworkers to be flexible for me.

So basically this whole post has been my attempt to sound like an adult.  Because the real Mikvah Bound is already crying inside. I just have to keep telling myself that Israel isn’t going anywhere.  That if I don’t go here, I will go eventually.  Somehow.

Man plans and G-d laughs.  I just sometimes wish G-d didn’t laugh so loudly.

 

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.

Tzedakah Box and Other Goodies

To those in the Bay Area, go to Afikomen.  Even if it means crossing a bridge.  It has a far larger selection than Dayenu and the owners were incredibly helpful and friendly.  You may need supervision though, if you’re like me and like to build your Judaica collection and library.

I finally purchased my tzedakah box.  I’m wondering how people choose their recipient organizations, causes, and individuals; there are so many areas of need that it’s almost overwhelming.  If you know of an organization in Northern California or Israel that you support or volunteer for, I’d love to hear about it.  I’d particularly be interested in ones that work to diminish the Orthodox monopoly on religious authority in Israel, or that support liberal converts at any stage of the process.