A combination of an awkward conversation with the boyfriend and a paper I wrote for Jewish-American Literature class have sparked some doubts about the conversion process for me today.
Ty was over briefly visiting while I sniffled into a Kleenex box, and on his way out he made some remark about the Shabbat thing at the hippie’s house that we had been thinking about going to before I came down with the Cold of Death. This remark referred to me as something along the lines of a “Jewy Christian Sufi” or something else that had the connotations of what I’m really about but still with the term Christian sandwiched in the middle.
This bothered me a lot more than I would have anticipated.
I was already crying a little at that point, because I am the whiniest sick person and he was LEAVING MEEEEEEEEE which, you know, would normally be permissible except I’m SICK and he’s moving to THAILAND and my life is SO HARD, YOU GUYS. It was a bit embarassing. So this really just set me off more, especially when he started trying to comfort me by talking about how unimportant titles and labels are when you’re talking about faith and how my relationship with God is between me and God, not anyone else. Which, again, would normally be permissible and even welcome, except for the extenuating circumstances of arrrrrrrrghCold of Death, as in these circumstances it mostly caused me to go into a death spiral of angst about how I’ll never really be Jewish so why am I even trying and I should just go back to Christianity even though I have a problem with their theology and textual analysis and historicity blah.
So once he was gone and I had taken some deep breaths and played a bit of Skyrim and petted a kitty to soothe my nerves, I started thinking about why I was even doing this in the first place, given what a hostile place Judaism can be for converts and how, as the boy said, labels are in general not all that important.
I wrote a paper on this as my Jewish-American Lit final–as the lone undergrad taking the graduate course I was allowed one personal paper instead of an academic essay. I’ll summarize it later, since it was super long-winded, like eight pages long. But the important part is what happened right then as I was passive-aggressively watching the Big Bang Theory while ignoring the book that the Reconstructionist rabbi gave me about how Judaism is a civilization, not a religion, which of course was SO HELPFUL to my alienated convert mind at that point.
What happened was that my friend Max from high school called me, to invite me (in his words, “in light of your recent transformation”) on a “classic Jewish tradition”–going to dim sum Christmas Eve morning with his family.
Secular as that may be, I remembered what Jewish community feels like.
I’m doing a lot better now.