Surrogate Jewish mother

Things are kind of unhappy in my life right now, and I feel like because of that, I’ve let my religious life slip.

Ty moved to Thailand, completely and unequivocally. He’ll be back in the summer, but it won’t be the same. I’m taking six classes, practicing kung fu, belly dancing, and working on the intentional community. Kung fu and belly dance are both so political and full of drama, and the intentional community is so confusing, given that I’m the only non-Christian. I feel frustrated with virtually all of the people I interact with.

Judaism is really the only aspect of my life where interpersonal politics isn’t making me miserable.

I go to shul every week now. I feel decidedly welcome at the Conservative synagogue, so much so that I don’t feel the need to really look into any other denominations at the moment. I love how simple singing is without accompanying instruments. I love that we move through the prayers quickly enough that I don’t get bored, but slowly enough that I can still follow even with my extremely basic Hebrew. I love the combination of egalitarianism and tradition.

Also, every time I try to visit the Reconstructionist synagogue, God strikes me down with an illness. I can take a hint, bro.

Also, there’s my friend Jen. She’s one of the belly dancers, but probably the only one whose ego isn’t cramping my style at the moment. She converted when she was 30, and she likes to remind me that she’s old enough to be my mother. Which is technically true, but only if she was rather… precocious. But that’s beside the point.

She came with me to services last Shabbat, and it was a lot more awesome than I expected. Normally I feel really weird praying too close to other people, but somehow this was not true with her. And as we were leaving we started talking about the holidays, and what it means to be a convert with no Jewish family. This is something I’ve been worried about since Ty left–with him out of town, what will I do for Pesach? But then I talked to Jen.

“We could have a seder together!” She said. “I could be, like, your surrogate Jewish mother!”

And I said, “Yes.”


5 comments on “Surrogate Jewish mother

  1. Pesach is the absolute worst. At least with the Days of Awe, “everyone” goes to shul. Even if you’re there by yourself, you’re surrounded by hundreds of other people on the synagogue’s busiest day.

    Pesach is done in the home. You need an invite, or you… creatively do the seder by yourself. Meals are harder when you’re making all these accommodations for one and thus your dedication to kosher l’pesach wanes. People are so busy that they often overlook extending the invitation and you feel awkward dropping hints.

    Yep. Being a convert can totally suck at times.

    Also, glad to hear you’ve found a place that you’re happy with. I do love my Conservative home myself.

    • Probably the easiest choice as a college student would be to just go to Hillel for Pesach, but our Hillel here is kind of full of hostile people and I don’t like it and meh. I’m glad I made a friend who also has nowhere to go, though. Teamwork!

      And thanks! Conservatism is a lot cooler than stereotypes would have people believe, I think.

      • Never met a Hillel I did like, to be honest. It’s great to have Jews just hanging out and doing stuff together, but I’ve never found a happy religious-social balance at one that suited me.

        And yeah, I remember telling my Conservative beit din how/why I progressed from Reform to Conservative on my very, very long journey: “and then I was left thinking, but I can’t go to the scary.. dun dun dun… Conservatives, now could I?!” and it got a chuckle out of them.

  2. I second mikvahbound here – Pesach makes me want to bang my head against a wall – honestly, it’s stressful!

    Last year my shul hosted a community seder, which was lucky for me as I didn’t have to hunt for a place in someone’s home. This year will be very different – I am going to a fellow Jew’s home instead. If you are lucky, people will automatically ask if you have a place to go – if not, your rabbi should always be willing to find someone who will open up their home for you – that’s a mitzvah in itself, so they should be more than willing 😉

    Very pleased you’ve found the shul for you. That’s one major hurdle cleared!

    • I just wish my shul was a little smaller, around this time of year. I feel like the rabbi is too busy, really, to ask about that sort of thing. Even our conversation about conversion has been relegated to email, recently.

      Holidays are always stressful, I guess, but man. I never realized how confusing it could get until I got into this whole converting business.

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