Well, I did it! I had my Beit Din a couple weeks ago. I’ve been slammed since with these High Holy Days and all the work that entails with Nefesh, my buoyant, vibrant, supportive eastside Los Angeles community.
After being slightly anxious way back in March to do this thing only to have it delayed 6 months, guess what? It was painless, it was beautiful, and it was super meaningful. I got emotional—pride, immense joy, humility—reading the statement of affirmation of Judaism and all that it means to be a part of the Jewish people. Spoiler alert: they let me in!
Rabbi Adam Greenwald at AJU had this amazing response about the highly unusual situation of not going immediately from the Beit Din—the rabbinical court—to immerse in the mikvah, the symbolic rebirth as a Jew. I’d be in the stew, simmering on low, waiting, legally Jewish but also not, for 3 solid weeks! Schrödinger’s Jew even more so than I previously thought (and that was a solid year ago! Remember 5780? Plagues and fires?!).
What an interesting thing to spend the High Holy Days in a state of liminality – with one half of the conversion ceremony done and the other half waiting for you in 5781. I hope that in-between-ness provides you a particularly interesting perch to observe these days, and to make commitments for a new future.Rabbi Adam Greenwald, my teacher and guide
It sure did provide me an interesting perch. The Days of Awe are all about self-reflection, looking forward, designing a new year and molding yourself more toward the person you want to be. Teshuvah—returning—toward our true, original selves. In this time we try to right our wrongs, and for me I always think of ways I’ve wronged the world and people I don’t even know; such as not doing enough work on racial injustice and poverty for one.
These are among the many reasons I became (realized I was) Jewish: a firm desire to Tikkun Olam—heal the world and be a part of a community of doers and changers. This time of year is about striving to be your best self, creating a better world, and in doing so, entering the holy.
I’m still in shock about this journey, still not entirely sure that it happened and is happening, and feeling for sure in a strange limbo—a Holy Daze—about doing so much of this by Zoom, so far away, and sitting here on the morning before Yom Kippur starts, 100 miles away from my community. In a way it feels like everything else this year: unreal, a sort of black-and-white dream, not quite rejoined with reality. In this time when we are supposed to look in the mirror, it’s largely fogged up, or covered for mourning.
Rosh Hashanah last weekend was amazing; we DID get to gather. I went to LA for our in-person, outdoor walking meditation service and for Rosh Hashanah morning, memories of my first holy days with Nefesh in tow. I had not seen these people in six months and so much had changed in the world and in me.
On Tuesday, October 6 I go into the mikvah for that final step on this journey and it, too will be not what I envisioned: no one is allowed to go. There will be no party or welcome ceremony after, and there was a long back-and-forth about how and when it would be including a brief look at doing it in the ocean. I may still take that salt water dip, symbolically!
I can’t wait for that day and I know 5781 will not be what I imagined, either.