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Moving On Up To The Shul Side...


So the Ritual Committee at my synagogue (the folks who help put together programs, events, holiday things, and welcome new members to the synagogue) has asked me to become a member of their group!

YES!!!

I am FINALLY going to be on an active path at my shul :) I was so honored that they would even think of me! I still don't know Hebrew yet (planning on trying to change that once I have the funds) and I hate feeling useless and not helpful there.

 I really wanted to be a more active part of things and this is a way to do it. They meet once, sometimes twice a month and help get things grooving in terms of things like Pesach seders, New Member Celebrations, special Onegs, Purim festivals, etc. This is TOTALLY up my alley: it's spirtiually grounded, it's tikkun olam for the shul, it's working with other congregants on doing Jewish...I'll learn more, I'll meet more people, and I'll start being a more active Jew.

This could not have surprised me more, nor gotten me so happy :) I really, really NEEDED this pick-me-up. I've been feeling kind of down, sluggish, and dead-ended lately in terms of extracurricular life stuff. I need to get out of the house more, I need to socialize more, and I need to be a more active Jew.

Praise to you Hashem! You always know what I need! :)

Pretty Fly For A Rabbi...


I've been thinking long and hard about eventually studying Hebrew and going to Rabbinical school. My spiritual path has been elevating more and more and I feel very strongly about it. Even my husband, while we have very different Jewish ideals and preferences, has told me he has a feeling it is my spiritual path. I know it seems crazy. I've been really resistant to talking about it publicly or to many people. I've been afraid to admit this dream out loud, for fear of seeming foolish.

I know too many folks out there who will laugh, who HAVE in fact laughed at the idea. Most will probably think I'm nowhere near capable, or kidding myself; delusional even. I think that myself sometimes. Yet I keep feeling the pull. I've felt the urge to be in a clerical position since I was young, but I had never found my religious footing until I converted to Judaism. I know it's the home G-d wanted for me, my spiritual Ground Zero so to speak. And I need to stop worrying about what other people think. I've allowed people's doubts of me to not only damage my own self-image, but also I have allowed it to damage my willingness to put myself out there and genuinely try because I was so convinced I'd fail and prove all those doubters right. I have got to stop allowing other people's views of me to chart my course. I need to chart my own course, and I need to have more confidence in my ability to do so. This is a small step in that direction: talking about a seemingly crazy ambition and talking about it it to more than just my husband, mother, and Hashem.

I certainly can't do it anytime soon. It's very discipline-intensive, takes years and years of study, and requires a great deal of a person emotionally, spiritually, and physically. But one of the things my Mom complains I do is put myself down all the time and assume I can't do things. She thinks sometimes I do that subconsciously so that I don't have to try. I am afraid of failure, that's a fact. I'm so very good at it that taking a chance on new things isn't my strong suite. I tend to suck at a lot of things.I've never really been very successful at much of anything in my life. But if I  never try, I'll never know and that's probably worse than failing. Someday I think I will do Rabbinical school after I've studied Hebrew for...a long time.

I'm not very astute at studying languages. It's a real challenge for me. But both my husband and my mother have told me that I am more than intelligent enough and capable enough to learn, even if it takes a longer amount of time than normal to do it. I also have to learn to become a more disciplined and motivated individual. I have a proclivity for laziness and procrastination. I am perfectly capable of NOT being those things, it's just a matter of pushing myself. And I can do it when I'm passionate about something. I'm passionate baout writing, a bout acting, about literature and politics. And I'm very passionate about G-d and Judaism. Increidbly so. It's like a cleansing for my soul every time I go to services, every time I do a mitzvah, every time I light my Sabbath candles, every time I don my yarmukle.

So perhaps that is in the cards, someday. It's definitely something to ponder, because I can't shake the idea. The idea of being able to serve G-d, to work with people, and to have Judaism as my way of life really fills my heart with a joy I can't describe. It won't be all sweetness and light. it will be unbelievably hard, and it will require more of me than anything else. Working for G-d should require nothing less in my opinion. But while this is not the time, it may not happen until middle age when I've had kids and have saved up money and time, I have this niggling suspicion that it WILL happen. We all have some purpose in life. I have a feeling that Judaism and having children are mine.

But it's too early to say at this point. I'm not even 30 yet, after all ;) But it's good to have ambition, I think. Goals help us move with life rather than just moving through it and that is a great gift. I need to do more of that in my life. I've been stagnant and afraid of losing what little is left of my dignity for far too long.

Bootstraps up!

Forever and a day...

So I haven't written in this journal in ages. I'm actually debating creating an entirely new Jewish Journal to reflect the fact that I am now a Jew, an official Member of The Tribe. I've been one since April when I dipped into the beautiful, healing mikveh on a cold morning with my mother-in-law, my Rabbi (Rabbi Debora Gordon), and the rebbetzin of the Rabbi who officially oversaw my conversion (Rabbi Silton, and his lovely wife Faye). My husband waited outside. It was such an amazing day. I still think about it. I sometimes wish I could do it all over again just to relive the joy I felt. I was nearly in tears when I held the littlest Torah they had at Temple Israel in Albany where I had taken my Intro To Judaism classes (I am only 5'1 so I couldn't hold a really BIG Torah) and sang the Sh'ma. It was just an electrifying incredible moment. I will never forget it.

But this journal was the exploring section of my Jewish Journey. It started out humble and intellectually curious. I started out just a curious observer after getting my heart broken by yet another Jewish boy while volunteering to do Hurricane Katrina work in Jackson, MS. Those of you who read this journal know what happened after I got a taste of the Torah, and the singing, and the praying, and the...JEWISHNESS that has inhabited me since who knows when?

But now the journey leading up to conversion has finished, and I am left to ponder creating a new journal, one to reflect my NEW Jewish journey: That of living life as a Jew, not as a potential Jew. I have lots I still want to say, and hopefully I will say them in less shamefully sporadic entries. I now write a regular Op-Ed column for my synagogue bi-monthly bulletin. I am starting to take more of a stand on what I feel about israel, and how strongly I feel it. I am making friends in my Jewish community, although I still feel a little bit outcast within it. I read Jewish-themed books voraciously and want to write what I think of them. I have seen Jewish-themed movies and have had interesting conversations with fellow Jews about a whole range of issues. I have been living and experiencing a fascinating Jewish life and there is still so much more to say.

But I don't think it should be in this journal anymore. I am no longer a Shiksa and this journey was for her. I not the same person now, I am Tzipporah bat Avraham v'Sarah. It is time to fly like the little bird Tzipporah was and grow new wings.

Just thought, for now ;)

A Make-shift Sukkot!


Chag Sameach to you all! :)


My Reform Fella and I weren't planning on being able to do much for the Sukkah festivities this year. We're heading to Cancun, Mexico for our Honeymoon this year on the tail-end of this week, and just have not had time
to put together the Sukkah. We were invited by my super-duper Rabbi to go her Sukkah that she and her wife are hosting at their farm, but it's behind held the day we fly out to Mexico. So we figured we would just have to do it next year.

Low and behold, my Mom calls me  on Sunday morning and asks if we wanted to do Sukkah in her and my dad's giant wooden gazebo in their yard! Now there are several things that are odd and random about this:

#1-My mom isn't Jewish

#2-her gazebo does not really techincally count as a sukkah on ALL counts

#3-How did she even know when Sukkah was?!!

She knew because she grew up in a very Jewish neighborhood in Jersey and had been to many Sukkot gatherings. She loves the holiday! :)

So tonight we ate ate wonderful food, said prayers and blessings with the willow, the citrus, and etc, we talked about Jewish history and enjoyed just being a family together. My husband's father was there, my parents were there and we had a lovely, cool Autumn Sukkot evening.

It may not have been EXACTLY what is required of Sukkot, but it was what is necessary in the heart and and for the spirit. We had dinner by candlelight (no electricity!), we had kosher food, and we had multicultural bonds to be made :)

I love being a Jew :)



L'Shana Tovah!!!

Happy Jew Year! :)

Long Overdue Jewpdate :-P

It has been forever since I have posted in here, and I feel shamed for it. Rosh Hashanah is coming up, as well as Yom Kippur. I have been asked to give a reading for my synagogue on Yom Kippur on Sin. That will be interesting, but I am so proud I was asked by my congregation to read :)
I was a little bitter about the fact the Jewish Writing Circle I had tried so hard to promote and get into action sort of didn't happen. I tried having a meeting and only 3 people came, and no one else seemed interested. I tried getting involved in the younger Jewish community in the Capital region and felt kind of rejected. I've found them very uncooperative and snobby to be honest. It hurts, because while I love my shul, my husband and I aren't even 30 yet an d haven't started a family yet either. Our shul is mostly families and older folks. I love my shul and I will never leave it, but it gets a little lonely there from time to time. I also wanted badly to be more involved in things like the Bulletin which is our bi-monthly newsletter, and work has just about swallowed me up whole in my time and energy to be able to do that. I'm afraid to even talk to my Rabbi anymore because I feel like I've been just a really bad Jew lately. I haven't amounted to much in my community and I take the blame for some of that.

Be that as it may...

Things have been sort of low-key in my Jewish life as of late. All facets of life have their ebbs and flows. I am always Jewish, but some months I am more active in living a Jewish life than others. I am always thinking about it though, and every Friday even if I'm not at Shul, I am reflecting on Shabbat, I wear my kippa with pride, and I pray.

I want to take another Jewish-related class, I always feel more intellectually stimulated when I am surrounded by other people exploring this spiritual and emotional journal that I am on. I really miss Faye and the Introduction To Judaism class I took about this time last year. I cannot believe it's been an entire year! I miss my classmates and seeing them each week and talking about our studies. When I am doing something academic I am forced to really immerse myself in things better. Don't get me wrong, I still read and study and pray and all of that. But I felt like I was moving FORWARD more when I was studying. If ONLY I could go to Rabbinical school now :(

Tonight as I soaked up the Judaica section of Barnes & Noble, wishing I could make myself more Jewish through osmosis, and knowing it doesn't work that way, I kept thinking this thought over and over: I have a thirst for G-d.

It is intangible and it is overwhelming. I have always had such an incredible thirst for G-d once I made a connection with my higher self to a Higher Power, to Adonai. My friends have chastised me for exploring so many different roads of faith. They think sometimes I am fickle and can't make up my mind, and that I don't treat religion seriously. But that's absolutely not the case. It's quite the opposite. I take religion and spirituality (which are not the same thing, and that distinction is important here) very seriously. I love all roads that lead to a deeper understanding, or at least, a better relationship with G-d. But when you are raised to religiously find your own way (as long as you find a way, not become an atheist, which I was for quite some time), it is very hard to find a religion you feel grounded to, that takes roots. My Mom rejected Catholicism early on and instead did not raise her children as any specific religion, she let us find our own paths. That made us both very open-minded to religion in general, but it made it very hard to find the right paths for ourselves. It's hard when you weren't raised with any fundemental beliefs in G-d. It is one of the reasons I so strongly want to make sure my children when I have them have a substantial religious and spiritual Jewish upbringing. It is important to me that they have a foundation to start on when their relationship with G-d is just starting. I don't blame my Mother, I admire her ambition to not saddle her kids with beliefs they might not want. But I wish I had been schooled in SOMETHING more solid, more grounding when I was young. Then I might not have been such a spiritual nomad when I was growing up and into my early college years.
I have written extensively about my Jewish journey and how I have always felt it pulling me closer, since I was 5 years old. I know Judaism was meant for me and I for Judaism. It is my link to Hashem, my theological b'asharet. But what of my other religious roots?

My pagan roots, which I am not ashamed of. I still look back on my Celtic wanderings with fondness and love. I still listen to Gwydion (a long-dead pagan folksinger) with love. I will always feel a kinship with Wicca and the Old Religion, always. I never felt grounded with it, which is why I did not stay with it, but I always had a love for it. It has deep roots with my genetic makeup: I am a Celt at heart, and pagan doings were the ways of the original Celts. I could never get into the multiple G-ds and G-ddess thing, but I still strongly respect its system. It is a loving belief structure with great respect for the earth and all that dwells within the earth's walls.

With my parents religion; Ifa, I thought I had found the perfect religion for me. It is an amazing belief system, highly inclusive and egalitarian, and I have a high respect for it still. It is monotheistic, it believes in Oldumare, the One G-d, and then there are Orishas, spiritts that do G-d's work on earth, kind of like Angels or Saints. But like the Native Americans believed in everything having a spirit, Orishas embodied many earthly energies. It combined a sort of paganistic worship with a monotheistic mindset. The problem with Ifa for me was never its belief system, but its form of worship.
The ceremonies are very long, very emotionally draining, and intense. It became almost a dread for me to attend them because I just couldn't handle the dramatic and sometimes overwhelming ceremonies. I wanted something more calm, more down-to-earth, and frankly, not to sound mean, but a little more NORMAL. At least normal for me. I am not knocking Ifa, I still have a love for it and my family both blood and non-blood who practice it. But it wasn't making me feel good when I had to devote entire weekends to this energy-draining form of worship, and I began to resent it, and resent the responsibility that came with being obligated because my family was a part of it. I feel more comfortable being a part of something I chose for myself, not followed because my parents were a part of it.
I chose Judaism just as much as it chose me. I went into Ifa because my parents practiced it, and while I loved it, I also felt handcuffed to it, trapped in a way that wasn't healthy for me. And I don't blame the religion, I blame myself for being such an introspective person that I couldn't handle something so very intense. But that is what was meant to happen, and that is why I parted ways with Ifa. I still go to the house meetings (just informal gatherings to see each other, it's primarily a social function, not a religious ceremony) to see the people there because I still love them. I will never not be a part of their lives simply because my religious path has changed. But I had to do something different with my heart in terms of how I wanted to let it beat to a Hashem-based rhythm that didn't make me sweat and make me anxious.

When I briefly dipped my toes into Christianity, primarily Catholicism and Episcopalianism, I gained a greater insight into what makes Christians tick, and how sincere their love for Jesus Christ is. I used to be incredibly anti-Christian, I was downright prejudiced against them. I grew up in a small podunk town that looked at someone who dressed like a Hippie and rejected monotheism altogether as some kind of freak. I don't know what bothered them more, when I believed in multiple Gods, or none at all. While I loved the ritual of Catholicism, and the relative liberalness (within a Christian mindframe) of Episcopalians, I did not enjoy the judgmental atmosphere I almost always reached whenever stepping into a Christian dwelling. I personally found it very hypocritical that many of the Christians I met only wanted to "save" me, instead of just let me find my own way.
I began to reject and resent the patriarchal theology surrounding all branches of the religion and realized quickly that while I think there are some lovely concepts in Christianity, it is one thing to appreciate it, it is another thing to wholly embrace it as a way of life. I chose to remove myself from that field. But even having left it, I still have an appreciation and a fondness for Catholic ritual, and I do now respect the Christian people I know for their honest devotion and sincere desires to be good people in the way they were taught how.
One of my very best friends; SarahBeth is a devout, lifelong Episcopalian. I admire her faith, it is a beautiful thing in her. She is everything that is GOOD about Christianity. She represents to me, what the religion strives to accomplish, but to me oftentimes fails to become altogether. She is incredibly open-minded about religion, and she has ALWAYS been supportive to me no matter what path I walked along in my constant search for G-d that I could feel at home with in connecting to Hashem the way I wanted to.

Judaism for me has a wonderful multitude of things I was so desperately looking for in my spiritually nomadic road trip. It interwove a way of life, a way of seeing the world, a sense of humor, an open-mindedness, and a gift for arguing with not just each other but our Creator, as well as a straight-forward method of connecting to G-d, talking to G-d, joining together as a community, and in asserting a responsibility as a people to the world in which we live. Judaism teaches compassion, forgiveness, love, kindness, respect, questioning everything, and a lifelong thirst for knowledge and change. It does not center around the worship of a person, or people. It does not center on having to only devote yourself in your religious center, and it does not focus on assimilation of any kind.
In fact, Jews argue with other Jews about how to be a Jew in the first place. And while that can be frustrating since it creates an insular prejudice against each other which hurts our community and people, it also allows for different concepts and methods in which to live a Jewish life. There are Jewish agnostics and atheist. There are traditional Jews who live Conservative and Orthodox, and Conservadox lives. There are the more progressive and left-leaning Jews who like Reform. There are the out-there Reconstructionalists who refuse to assimilate even within the unassimIlated. But we are ALL Jews and we all share a common bond: we are The Chosen, and that means choosing for ourselves as well as for G-d.
I love this. I feel like even though my lifelong thirst for G-d will never be quenched (I don't believe it is meant to be in this life), that it has found a solid home, a foundation, an olive branch if you will from which to really talk to G-d on an intimate and joyous way.

There are some days where I feel I am just not Jewish enough to be a real Jew. There are days when I sometimes still feel like an impostor/intruder. There are days when I feel my Rabbi doesn't think I'm good enough to represent my community in a Jewish way, that she doesn't even like me. I feel that sometimes I just am not educated enough to be a real Jew.
And I know those are falsities. I know deep down in my heart I am a daughter of Israel forever. The day I went in that mikvah was a core-shaking, life-altering event that stays in my heart wherever I go. I am a Jew. I wander for G-d like we did in the desert. And G-d is the compass Moses had, Miriam had, Rivkah had, Zipporah had.
This Zipporah bat Avraham v'Sarah knows where she belongs now: in a Jewish home, in shul, in the Judaica section of the bookstore, in a Jewish class. I may not ever become a Rabbi (though I still hold on to that someday dream), but I will strive always to be a more learned Jewish woman.

G-d calls me to it, and there are days I falter, and days I am not up to that task.
But there are more days to be had, more books to be read, more candles to be lit.

Hineni Adonai. I am here.

Ok so it's been FOREVER since I posted...

...but I bear fun news!

June 17th, 7pm, at the social hall of BERITH SHOLOM in TROY NY at 167 THIRD ST I am hosting my shul's first ever

JEWISH WRITER'S CIRCLE!!!

I'm so excited I'm doing this!

Come one, come all, bring pens, paper, and your preferred muse :)

I promsie I have more Jewey stuff to write, tons of it in fact. I feel bad I've been so remiss in terms of writing lately...but ah, this will surely help amend THAT little problem eh?

Todah! :)

---Tzippy

Today I am a Jew :)

Met with the Bet Din. I was then dunked 3 times in the mikvah. And I got to hold the Torah and sing the Sh'ma.

I AM JEW TODAY!!!

Now and forever!

My heart sings with Israel as a daughter.


I cannot tell you how incredibly grateful I am to all the rabbis, the fellow congregants at Berith Sholom, my family, my Reform fella sweetie pie, my friends both Jewish and Non-Jewish, my fellow Introduction to Judaism class...EVERYBODY who has helped support me in this incredible journey that has not ended, but simply created a new path for me. It's just amazing.

I'll tell the whole story about my morning after I've had a much-needed NAP. It was a frightfully early morning for me (not a morning person, especially not on the weekends), and of course my adrenaline has been pumping since Friday.

More to follow :)

L'Chaim!!! :)

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My Mikvah...

...is March 16th. I meet with the Bet Din in Albany near Temple Israel at 9am, and then I head to get dunked in the mikvah!!! :)

I AM SO EXCITED!!!

I will be meeting with Rabbi Silton and the Bet Din he has put together. Then Rabbi Gordon and the Rebbestizin of Temple Israel Faye Silton (an amazing person!) will be there for when I am dunked.

I cannot believe it is finally happening!!! I am a little nervous too, but overall just incredibly excited :)

I will be having a "Jew Now!" party on a weekend later on this or next month to celebrate. More on that to follow. I'm thinking a gathering at The Cheesecake Factory on a Saturday or Sunday evening in the near future? If anyone has suggestions let me know :)

 I have so many things pouring through my head about this journey and what has been happening internally and externally.

I am currently trying to start a Jewish Creative Writers Circle at my synagogue (Berith Sholom in Troy NY) which will #1 get me more involved with people at synagogue, but also will help me get my creative juices flowing again and I will connect that passion of writing with my passion for Judaism. We are nothing if not a very verbal and literary-rich people :)
I am also attempting to get involved with the Temple Newsletter which is a bit of a daunting task, but I think I'm up to it. I need to get more involved, put more action into my faith/culture and use my creativity where I can't at my current job. I really miss writing.

I have been leaving work at around 4pm (an hour early) on Fridays now, and then I go home and light my Shabbat candles. It has become an overwhelmingly lovely and intense experience for me. I like having Shabbat usered in, and using it as a time for just me and Adonai to talk. My Reform Fella doesn't get home until about 6:30pm or so at night, so it's just me and Hashem. I light the candles, say the Sabbath Candlelighting prayer, and then I pray for a bit. Then I sing all the songs I have memorized in Hebrew now. I sing Hallelu, Haskiveinu, Shabbat Shalom, everything I can think of. It really feels like a CONNECTION, you know? I actually have started davening! It's just such a wonderful feeling. Then I turn out all the lights in the house for a while and just sit enjoying the glow of Shabbat light, G-d's light really, warming my house and filling it with love.
I also have started wearing a kippa on Fridays. It reminds me that Shabbat is coming, and I feel more solidarity and connection with being a Jew that way (well, an ALMOST Jew ;). When I walk down the street with my kippa I feel acutely AWARE of the family I am representing, and I like that I am being identified as one of The Chosen. I have people nervously asking me about why I am wearing one, I see people look at it. Most of them seem a tad confused as for a long time it used to be only men who wore them. I also appreciate the fact I am solidifying my Reform roots by wearing a yarmulke, when it used to be only men.

I am sort of in awe of how far I have come, and how far I have yet to go on this incredible journey I began in a tiny little shul in Jackson, Mississippi back in 2006. Back then I hadn't the faintest idea of what I was doing. When scottish_jew and I would go to a morning service I'd be so flustered. He'd be reading the prayers by memory, and I'd be struggling to even figure out what frigging PAGE we were on! But even then, that lovely Rabbi Cohen saw something in me that was ready to come out and daven. Even though I had no idea what I was in for at the time, I new it was something I belonged to. My soul was longing, and finally I get to do a big mitzvah for my soul come next week. I'm being reunited with my long, lost Tribe. My family reunion is almost here, and I am awash with intense, delighted, and sometimes slightly perplexing emotions. What a homecoming it will be!

Now when I come to shul, I can do a good chunk of the prayers by heart, but sometimes I still stumble. I can however even pick out what songs are on what pages before I turn to them :) I am beginning to make a network of friends from Temple.
When that atrocious terrorist attack in Israel happened this week, I felt my heart break for Jerusalem. I have always been trepiditious about aligning with Israel lock-step in everything it does. I still do no always agree with Israeli policy, and I think that both sides have legitimate and not-so-legitimate arguments. However, when innocent young people are killed, the youngest was 15, the oldest was 26, it shatters my faith in peace, and it enforces my love for Yisrael. I feel like it is a part of me, no matter what the politics. When most of the world did not want The Tribe, Israel was a home for us, and to see fanatics killing some of our youngest over exactly that: fanaticism, it's just enraging. I fly the blue & white in my heart now, and it took some doing to get to that point because the politics of Israel/Palestine are so incredibly complex and divisive. I may never be a dyed-in-the-wool Zionist. But I do understand now that they are a part of my extended family. And like family you may not always get along, or agree with each other, or even LIKE each other sometimes...but you still get behind family, you still love them, you still give them support when they need it. That's how I now feel about Israel.

I also realized my standing within my own family when a friend of mine from synagogue were talking at Oneg this week. He was asking me if I get frustrated when trying to explain to gentiles  my  feelings about  Israel (because there are so many misconceptions by Gentiles about what exact allegiance/feelings Jews have towards it). It struck me as he was saying that that he automatically separated me from gentiles. He already THOUGHT of me as a Jew (and he knows I haven't converted yet). That was such a compliment to me...it truly made me realize I BELONG. 
And don't even get me STARTED about when my Rabbi (Rabbi Gordon) told me I am truly worthy of being a daughter of Israel...I was getting a little VERKLEMPT, let me tell ya! I still get a bit teary eyed thinking about
that moment. 

Whew! Had a lot to say eh? Well verbosity is a strong suit  in both my Tribes: Irish and Jewish ;)

And now...I gotta go meet with my Rabbi about wedding plans...

Todah! :)
So I meet with Rabbi Silton this week to discuss setting a date for the Bet Din, and for the mikvah. I can't believe the time is almost here! I'm both full of a spiritual ecstasy I hadn't known I could feel about this upcoming rebirth, as well as a teensy bit terrified :-P
What if I forget my bracha? What if I screw it up?!!!
What if the Bet Din decides I'm not committed enough to Judaism?
What if they think that in my heart of hearts I'm just a McShiksa?


I know some of this is silly, but from what I've read, most converts go through these worries as the date of their Jewish birth draws near.

All I know is I've been waiting for the moment when I make my commitment to living a Jewish life, and becoming a Jewish woman heart and soul. I've been thinking about it, planning it, pondering it ever since I first stepped foot in that tiny Jackson Shul not so very long ago.
 I was dripping Mississippi sweat in simmering summer heat. I was a lost Yankee in a red-clay world. And even though I was an Irish girl with a very VERY varied upbringing when it comes to religion, I arrived at the doorstep of that little Reform Synagogue (Beth Israel) totally unprepared for what would happen next: I'd fall head over heels for Judaism.
While there have been a few bumps and surprises along the way on my journey, I never looked back. This is it for me, this is a choice I am making solely for me and no one else. That I ended up with someone who is a Born Jew in the process was no coincidence, to me that's for certain! But I was stepping along this path long before I ever met him. And finally the destination from all those weary footsteps is making itself clear.

I just bought the book Being Jewish by Ari L. Goldman at the local bookstore. I love his approach to "modern Judaism". He talks about what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century, and explains carefully that his is not a "how to" book on being/living Jewish, but a "this is how Jewish people are doing Jewish here and now". It's a great embrace of the incredible diversity within the many different ways of exploring Judaism, particularly in the U.S. He said that people are becoming very creative in how they decided to live Jewishly.

To that aspect, I have started a new ritual just for me. I now wear a head-covering (until I get my own kippot, which I do not have) on Fridays as a reminder to my spirit that Shabbat is coming. It is in this small, special way that I am internally preparing for Shabbat, and by having a physical reminder of it's impending arrival, I can think about it all day. I love this new tradition I am starting. It makes me happy! I also have arranged with my job to leave at 4pm on Fridays so I can get home right before sunset, therefore enabling me to light my Sabbath candles ON TIME. I like that i am beginning to firmly incorporate Judaism into my every day life by setting rules for myself.

My Reform fella and I are meeting up with our beloved Rabbi Gordon this weekend to discuss wedding plans. I am so blessed to have her be officiating our wedding! It will be so much fun, and it's so important to me that it will be a real Jewish ceremony. Hava Nagila, Hava...

Okey dokey...that about does it for me for one night.

Todah! :)