Jan 2, 2010

Chavi's Got News!

You read that right, folks. I've got news. Big news. Huge news! I was going to post a brief video blog about it, but my voice sounds horrible, and the upload was taking far too long. So I'm going to have to give you a teaser here and hope you all come back when I actually write the full post in the coming week.

Is the anticipation killing you? Is it? I guess you could have just looked below for the news, right. But if you're still reading, come on, move along already!

On 15 Tevet 5770 (that's January 1, 2010), at a little after 11 a.m. on the Upper West Side in New York, I descended the steps of a mikvah -- a ritual pool/bath -- and accepted upon myself the yoke of Judaism and being a Jewish woman. I ascended from the pool a new person, a fresh and invigorated neshama, and met friends who were waiting for me outside. I was named, Chaviva Elianah (חביבה אליענה), said my first b'racha as a halakic Jewess and my first shehechiyanu as a Jewess. And then?

Then I went out for a delicious bagel lunch at Bagels & Co. with @susqhb, @ravtex, and @schnit. I was then lucky enough to be on a streetcorner with Alec Baldwin and some other actor whose name I can't figure out. Then Shabbos came, and I spent my first Shabbos as a card-carrying member of the club. And damn did it feel good.

I'll write more later, a lot more later. So please stay tuned. It'll include why I chose a second name, what it felt like in the mikvah, what it felt like after, and everything in between -- including the candy that sticks to your teeth. Oh, and why this was completely sudden, unexpected, and AWESOME.

Thanks for the support and kind words and encouragement over this journey. It still isn't over, of course. We're all under construction, especially this one right here.

36 comments:

shavuatov said...

Mazal Tov!

So, am I right in thinking that you didn't use a mikveh when you converted to Reform? I am so glad I did when I converted on 30 Kislev 5770 - it made the experience so very spiritual and personal, as opposed to the cerebral experience of the Beit Din!

I know that there is potential for a lot of friction with regards to the Orthodox versus Reform issue, but I do just have a tiny question. Do you not consider that you were Jewish when you were Reform? It was just something you said in your post about 'saying your first shehechiyanu as a Jewess'. I'm not criticising or attacking, just curious.

Once again, Mazal Tov! (And I hope you feel better soon...).

rachel

Chaviva said...

Hey Rachel! I did do mikvah when I converted reform -- I studied, met with the beth din, went to the mikvah, had a ceremony at shul, and a naming ceremony, too. It was a very "real" experience then. But it was very, very different than this experience. This one was more spiritual, more real, more firey and passionate. Probably because I'm in a very different place now.

As far as your main question, it is a touchy issue. I knew that by saying that I'd rub someone wrong! When I say that, I mean as a "halakic" Jewess. I'm not in any way saying that I wasn't Jewish before, and as my many posts before have said, I always viewed myself as Jewish, but I was in a very different place this time around, so I felt comfortable having a conversion with a halakic, approved beth din that is recognized by the Israeli rabbinate. It was covering all my bases, and for me, it was the right, perfect thing to do.

I am a firm believer that no one person has the key to truth and what there is in the world to come, or even in this world. We can't know with certainty which religion or beliefs set is right -- if any. With that being said, I know what is right for me, and I know that a conversion as an Orthodox woman is right -- for me! Sure, sometimes I wish all converts rocked Orthodoxy, because it's beautiful, but I can't make decisions for others, and I also can't judge them (and I hope they don't judge me!).

In a phrase: Whatever floats yer boat!

Because I am an Orthodox woman, for me there is a halakic way of rocking things, and that is the way that I did things. My Reform conversion was a legitimate Reform conversion, but it wasn't a fully halakic one by the standards I hold and understand now. You know what I mean?

Anyhow, I feel absolutely miserable for having missed your big day. I had been MIA for a month, then came back, and was so busy with finals and grading and life ... wow. I feel really horrible, Rachel. Can you forgive me? We need a big "yay conversion" party. Can we meet in the middle? On a boat!?

shavuatov said...

You didn't rub me up the wrong way, no way! I was just curious, that was all... I know how careful you try to be about explaining where you are coming from and I just wondered if your opinion had changed in any respect.

Of course we all do things differently, so I totally get that the mikvah was an entirely different experience for you this time than it was the time before.

As for missing my news, don't worry about it. I know you had a tough time, then had all the grad school work etc. Life happens like that, doesn't it?

Now, I live on the coast, so finding a boat should be easy... see you in the middle!

rachel

Dr. Rona Michelson said...

Mazal tov! Welcome to the clan! (And look me up the next time you're in Israel.)

Rafi G. said...

Mazel tov again!

ya know, I think it was the bagel that finalized your jewishness...

Shimon said...

Mazal Tov.

and Rafi, the bagel only works if Chaviva had it with lox.

Daniel Saunders said...

Mazal tov!

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

An amazing post and amazing comments to boot. Chaviva, you really do outdo yourself sometimes! I can't wait to read more about this happy event. At the last minute, I figured out what my middle name would be...Moriah. It was the story behind that decision that made one of the rabbis on my beis din tear up. I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

Miss S. said...

Mazel tov!

hadassahsabo said...

its 2 days later, and I am still bursting with pride. (i was waiting so long for your update on your blog.)

Can't wait for the details.
Now, have some chicken soup and rest that voice of yours.

Welcome to the mishpacha!!

Anna said...

Mazal tov! What wonderful news - can't wait to hear more about it.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Mazel tov! It's a very big day!

gruven_reuven said...

Mazel Tov!!

Deena said...

Well, that is amazing and exciting! Mazel tov! Welcome welcome!

Ben-Yehudah said...

B"H

Berucha HaBa'ah.

BTW, I just realized that was you I bumped into in Israel a couple of times, once on Aggrippas, and then again on Yoel Solomon Street.

I was the one who was "encouraging" you two [hopefully nicely] to make aliyah.

;-)

rahelab said...

I love how much joy you exuded in your post about your conversion. I had an orthodox conversion many years ago, and it was much more solemn and less light-hearted. Conratulations.

Debbie said...

Mazel Tov, Chaviva! Looking forward to the expanded version of your experience.

BrooklynWolf said...

Mazal Tov on your conversion. May you be as Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah.

The Wolf

Risa said...

Happy to hear the good news!

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Mazel tov, Chavi!

A Simple Jew said...

MAZAL TOV!!!!!

Michael Sedley said...

Mazal Tov Cahvi, welcome to the family

Beth Chava said...

Mazel Tov Chavi!

David, UK said...

MAZAL TOV! Feed us with the details!

I'm so very happy for you...

Dunking Rachel said...

DITTO!

Eshet chayil mi yimtza v'rachok mip'ninim michrah

It is my hope that you continue to pursue contentment and peace to live your passion......

Chaviva said...

Oy va voy, I'm so overwhelmed. Really, I'm completely overwhelmed by the kindness and love of you guys. Thank you thank you, a million times, todah rabah!

I couldn't ask for a better group of people to call my family!

@Ben Yehuda What a completely WILD and weird coincidence, eh? I'm so familiar with your blog, too, which is hilarious. I'm now reminded of how very small the world is!!!

reader said...

mazel tov to our new sister

alto artist said...

Mazal tov!

--aa.

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful, wonderful, (happy-for-you-tear-jerking) news...

B'hatzlacha... you are an inspiration to all... especially for me, an FFB!

AnonyMS

Ben-Yehudah said...

Actually, that kind of stuff happens a lot in Jerusalem. ;-)

Familiar with my blog, huh?

Uh-oh. ;-)

יואב said...

Mazal Tov!
These are good news indeed. :)
ברוכה הבאה למשפחה.

May you live every day with the happiness of this beginning. :)

Lady-Light said...

I am always in awe of gerim, because they have the mindset, determination and courage to take a LEAP of faith, and such a leap it is, converting to a religious ethnic group which is generally despised by the world at large.
It humbles me.
Brucha ha-ba'a la-mishpacha, as Yoav said, above.
I'm in tears (-been tearing up all day), and I don't even know you.

Chaviva said...

Eep! Friends, strangers, passersby, thank you for the kind words and welcome wishes. The BIG Jewish community feels so small and close right now. I'm loving it :)

Yonathan Ben Shimshon said...

Mazel tov! Now it's a mitzvah to live in Israel. May you merit that one too.

Jack said...

Mazal Tov!

Batya said...

Welcome to the club my dear. MAZAL TOV!!!!

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