Mar 30, 2009

Airing Out.

No matter how long I'm living Jewish, no matter how much I know, or feel, or breathe ... I'm still reminded, in the most ridiculous instances that, well, you know in the end I'm not Jewish. Nope. Not Jewish. I'm a non-Jew. All those non-Jew rules? They apply to me. Little ole me. Chaviva (is that your REAL name?). And it burns. It almost burns more now than it did after my Reform conversion nearly three years ago. Why? Because I'm living this lifestyle of an observant Jew who is shomer Shabbos and really doing the kashrut thing and devoted wholly to an observant and traditional lifestyle. Because my neshama? It's screaming. It's been screaming. It's still screaming.

In a simple conversation over mevushal and non-mevushal wine (a topic which, until now, I was completely ignorant of), I was reminded that despite all my knowledge and lifestyle and belief and dedication and the past six years of my life -- I'm still a non-Jew. I don't have that Orthodox conversion. I'm working on it. I really am. I would dunk now if they'd let me. Would they let me?

I give a d'var at an Orthodox rabbi's table, I daven next to 80-year-old women in hats, I sit behind a mechitzah with pride, I spend hours in the grocery store looking for heckschers with glee, I answer questions about why Orthodox Jews do the things they do, I identify as a (modern) Orthodox Jew. I wear a Magen David around my neck. I own more than three siddurim. I have five different chumashim. I have a Judaica collection that would make my pocketbook weep. There are all the trappings, but they're not enough. I feel the way I feel, and I want to be able to show THAT to people, because THAT is what really matters.

But how do you show someone your soul?

It can't be drawn or explained or photographed or videotaped or displayed on a big screen. It's just there and you hear it and feel it and dream it, but you can't let anyone else see it. I try, so hard, through words and deeds and words words words. But that's all they are. Can people really see the passion behind words? Little symbols and characters born out of sounds?

At any rate, I'm at this awkward frustrated point. I'm a Jew! I am. But I'm not. But I am. It's like I'm in purgatory or something. This middle ground between being born and being just a soul floating through the atmosphere waiting to be whole again.

Sincerely frustrated with people who feel the need to remind me that I'm not a halakhic Jew, 
Chaviva E.


Trip'n Mommy said...

I wish there was something I could say that could possibly make you feel less frustrated. The people who belittle your status, probably take their own for granted. To me, choosing to be a knowledgeable, observant Jew is an amazing thing.

Most people, at some point, face the dilemma of respecting the Halacha but not agreeing with it, or are pained in someway by the ruling. It is part of the challenges of being observant (along with finding Kosher food on vacation...) I have found, that it can even strengthen your resolve to keep Mitzvot and become closer to Hashem.

The bottom line is that it IS all about your neshama. It is guiding you, and will lead you to your happy ending in time.

Unfortunately, you do have to give it time. This process was not developed without thought and consideration for the best possible outcome. Somehow, I think, in the end, you will be happy that you (and your neshama) were given time to learn, question, and grow. You will be stronger for it, and maybe that ending will be even a bit happier. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oy! I can picture you tearing your hair out as you write!

Hmmm... as you know, I'm not converting Orthodox, Modern Orthodox or anything along those lines. I am following a path that feels right for me, where I am free to explore and do what I feel right in doing. I am more observant than some in my congregation and less than others. Some might say that Judaism isn't about picking and choosing what you feel like doing - and they are right. Some things I do jewishly aren't what I 'feel like doing' on any given day - I actually feel compelled to do them, for some inexplicable reason. Studying the parshah on a train home form work at 8pm? Nope - I would much rather kick back, close my eyes and turn up my iPod. But instead, I keep my eyes open with matchsticks and hunker on down.

So, what is in your neshama? Your neshama IS Jewish, through and through. It is so obvious from your blog that those who feel the need to remind you of your shortcomings need to take a running jump. What's more important - following the laws because that's what you've always done, or following them because you feel them in every fibre of your being?

For me, the answer is clear.

Good luck to you.


Schvach said...

How right you are Chavi. It's your neshama, not their criticisms. Those who criticize think in small terms. It's obvious you have a neshama, and it's also obvious that you take good care of it; if you don't, it'll bite you! The scream is yours, not your neshama's. All the rabbis can do is welcome you as a card carrying member of Klal Yisrael; your neshama comes from the Aybischter. You've shown that you're a beautiful Jew (not that you have anything to prove), so relax...and enjoy.

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