Posted in Jewish Life, Judaism

Elul and the passing of time

It’s common knowledge that as we get older, we become more aware of time. It seems to pass more quickly than in our youth, with the months and years marching past so fast that we feel dizzy.

When my father died, I initially counted his absence in days. It was important to do so because for the first 30 days, I wore a torn ribbon over my heart as an outward sign of my inward grief.  Once those 30 days passed, I still counted in days, ensuring that I recited the Mourner’s Kaddish each evening before saying the Sh’ma. As time passed, I began marking the loss of him in weeks.  Every Friday, I’d say to myself, “It’s been X weeks since Dad died.”

Continue reading “Elul and the passing of time”

Posted in About me, Jewish Life, Judaism

A very personal Shabbat Nachamu

Friday night, I sat around a beautifully prepared Shabbos table with five other women. My dear friend Elizabeth had invited us all, and then spent massive amounts of time making sure everything was perfect. And it was. The food was fantastic – I’m still drooling over the hummus and mushrooms she served – and the company was… well… it’s almost hard for me to put into words how I felt, and still feel, about the women around that table. Continue reading “A very personal Shabbat Nachamu”

Posted in Family, Judaism

Waiting

My dad believed in visitors from the afterlife. He was also a man of stories, and one of his frequent stories was a memory from when his younger brother, John, died as a teenager in the early 70s. The story goes like this: John was in his hospital bed, comatose in the very last minutes of life. My dad had rushed to his bedside from several hours north, barely making it in time. Right before John succumbed to cancer and died, my dad looked up and saw, floating near the ceiling in the corner of that hospital room,  ethereal versions of his grandmother, grandfather, and an aunt. Dad said it was as if they were there to greet John’s spirit on the other side. Continue reading “Waiting”

Posted in Holidays, Judaism

It’s hard to say goodbye to the High Holy Days

I love the Jewish High Holy Days. While we have a lot of holidays on the calendar, I’ve been practicing Judaism long enough to know that Yom Kippur is my favorite holiday. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is joyful and celebratory, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is serious, somber, and breathtakingly powerful. This year was especially poignant because I attended the Yizkor service, which honors those who have died during the previous year and comforts those who are mourning.

Yom Kippur is about ensuring that we have righted our wrongs so that our names are inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.  Continue reading “It’s hard to say goodbye to the High Holy Days”

Posted in faith, Judaism

Essay: Why I want to become Jewish

Note: As part of my conversion process, my rabbi requires that I write my religious autobiography, which is made up of a series of essays. I’m posting these essays here, as well, to share my journey. I’m nearing the end of this process and will soon meet the beit din (rabbinical court) who will decide my Jewish “fate.” If my request for conversion is approved, I’ll then enter the mikveh and, when I emerge, I do so as a Jew.

Here is my first essay in the series, which is all about what compelled me to make this decision.

When starting out on my faith journey in my early twenties, I carried with me the God of my youth. This God was one that, if my prayers were sincere enough, my heart true enough, and my deeds good enough, would grant whatever it was that I wanted. If my prayers weren’t answered, it was because I had sinned or had fallen short of God’s plan for me. God was like a magical ATM in the sky, dispensing money, happiness, and an occasional new car to those that were worthy and devout.

Continue reading “Essay: Why I want to become Jewish”