2/21/2006

Experiences

This past Friday, I went to my first service and worshipped with who I hope to be my Jewish brothers and sisters. I am still nervous on one level because this is something that is so important to me. But the congregation was very welcoming. It was weird but I did feel at home and the Shabbat service was familiar in many ways.

The road to conversion is going to be an interesting one. My rabbi is Reform and I'm going to services with a Conservative congregation. We meet in the hall of a Methodist church because Beth Israel Synagogue is still undergoing repairs after Hurricane Katrina.

The things from the Shabbat service that still linger are the wordless tunes that we all sung at the beginning. I can still hear them and still sing them aloud.

I did become a little lost in some of the Hebrew sections but was able to follow along and made a fair attempt to say the words.

The Shabbat services are very beautiful in their simplicity. I was fortunate that the rabbi who is guiding me on my journey was there the first night. She was there for a Bat Mitzvah that was to be celebrated.

The president of the congregation said it would be okay for me to take one of the siddurs home. I have been using it to start praying the K'Riat Sh'ma in the morning. The rabbi asked me to start a ritual or habit and this is the one I chose.

The prayers are so beautiful and during the day, words and phrases will strike me.

12 Comments:

Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

I don't know exactly if you are born from a Jewish Mother or Father, but if you are you will see that things will flow very easily. I guess it's easy if one has Jewish ancestors. If you don't the journey will be harder in the beggining, but in the end everything will be alright, you will see.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

emanuel,

My father was Jewish. As far as I know, he never went to shul nor said any of the prayers. I did pick up a little Yiddish from him.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

But do you need to convert? I thought that Reform in the States also accepted the Father for being a Jew.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

emanuel,

I don't know. The situation with my father is unique. His mother was not Jewish. His father was. He never had a Bar Mitzvah. I explained the situation to the rabbi.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

It so stupid that only the mother gives us the right to be Jews. We are loosing Jews because of that. But you would be accepted in Israel by the Law of Return.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

emanuel,

But we are gaining more converts. The rabbi said that the number of converts has risen a lot of the past few years.

I found out a couple of months ago that I would be accepted in the Law of Return. It may sound strange, but my heart actually started beating faster when I learned about it.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Emanuel Ben-Zion said...

I know that are more converts, but you have Jewish blood from a direct kin. Why converting? I don't understand the rabbis on this. They are sick and tired of explaining that to me, but I always refuse to accept.

3:35 AM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

emanuel,

In my case, this process is necessary. My Dad did not practice his faith nor did my Mom, who is a Christian.

For most of my my life, I considered myself a Catholic and was very active in the church I went to.

But I think I get the drift of what you are saying. It's in the blood, heart, and soul. In my case, my Jewishness would not be silenced any longer.

5:46 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Here's an interesting take:

Emanuel says it is stupid that only the mother being Jewish gives us the right.

The reason for this is that in the past, only the matrilineal line could be assured. The father of a person could always be questioned, you see. But in this day of DNA profiling, I think it is an archaic notion. But what are we without tradition?

OTOH, as my father once said to me, never forget that you are a Jew as the world will never let you forget that you are a Jew.

My mother was born and raised a Mormon but converted to Judaism in the '60's, after I was born. But I consider myself no less a Jew because of that fact.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

mark,

Thanks for sharing. My father always considered himself to be Jewish. All of us kids are proud of it. But he never taught us about it.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Daniel in Brookline said...

An interesting discussion... but in the end, Seawitch, it will come down to what you want to do, and what you need to do.

It sounds to me as though, to start your new life as a Jew on the right foot, you feel the need to "go back and touch second base", as it were -- going through the conversion, studying Judaism, and so forth. Your decision, either way. But I think you're right, and I applaud the decisions you're making.

I'm also delighted that you feel at home in your new congregation, and that you're comfortable with your rabbi. There will be rough spots; it ain't easy to be a Jew, and I have a feeling you'll occasionally wonder if you're doing the right thing. A warm congregation and a supportive rabbi can help you get through that.

Don't worry about the Hebrew. It will come. Enjoy the music; let that uplift you! (I've always found myself happiest in congregations that do a lot of singing.)

best wishes,
Daniel

11:03 AM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

daniel,

Thank you. The great thing about the congregation is that there are a couple of converts and it is reassuring that there are some people I can share experiences with.

12:12 PM  

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