The New Girl at PunkTorah

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I’m stupid new to Judaism. Stupid new. Like I’m still getting around to telling some random people I’m converting, baby-stepping my way into Kosher living, and met my first Rabbi yesterday kind of new. And unlike most people I’m reading about on the interwebs, I’m more than super proud of this. I’m beyond happy to tell someone that I’m converting, and I’m pretty excited that you know too.

Why? Well mostly because like I just told you. I’m new. I’m just about to start conversion classes, and I’m learning everything without any family or close friend-like help. I know all of two Jewish people in my whole life, and though I’ve already come to them with some pretty dumb questions, I’m mostly reading and re-reading things in my room at night.

So when I tell someone, hey I’m converting, I’m mostly saying HEY SLOW DOWN BRO, I’M NEW AT THIS. I’m not one of the lucky ones who woke up knowing Hebrew, and I’ll have to spend many days and weeks perfecting my latkes. I came here, to PunkTorah, to grow as a person with faith, and learn about myself and religion and anything else I can get my little hands on.

The biggest thing I’ve found so far, is that people don’t want to be labeled as someone who has converted. And though I’m trying to allow myself to have this thought change in the future, right now dudes, I don’t care that you ask me about it. Yeah I’m “choosing to be chosen”, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less awesome, right? If anything, I think that means my ideas and willing-ness to change for my beliefs speak volumes. I mean I’m a little biased here, clearly, but I think it’s easy to say you believe in something because it’s what you were raised to, and not as easy to change your life into it.

I think so far, the only thing that really grinds my gears about talking to people, and saying the c word, is that everyone just assumes it’s for my Husband. I mean, yeah, I’m married, and have an awesome little geek spawn. Naturally you just assume that the girl with no religious background is going to jump on the first ship she’s married to, right? Well, I’ll have you know, dear sir or madam, that no. My Hubs is in fact not Jewish, and I’m sure he was baptized as a Christian of some sort. This is all me folks. All my own decision.

I’ve always been a little more than weirded out by people who just sit around and talk about religion all day. Which is basically hilarious because now it’s really all I seem to do. A little after having my son, I realized how much more I felt there was in this world than just me and my thoughts just really didn’t believe or feel even think, that the way I was being explained before how this was truth. I mean, everything has it’s good points, and I’m not here to discredit, but it just wasn’t clicking for me.

While I won’t bore you too much with my ways of finding Judaism as my choice in practice of G-d and all, I will tell you that had more to do with my son than anything. Like most of my real life decisions do I guess.

I volunteered to blog, but really more just talk, to you, as a friend and a person about my conversion. I wanted to show you all the lighter side of a journey that is weird and scary at times, but so far has been really great. I’m not really all that great or profound when it comes to writing or speaking about religion, and in all sorts of honesty, I’m beyond new at even thinking about it with much thought. I never really felt comfortable talking about religion, and yet here I am, blogging to you about my converting, and how it’s making me a better person and such. So the big question in this becomes, well why then? And wouldn’t that be the best question to ask someone right now? I mean, I’d ask it, if it weren’t me writing and stalling about answering it.

Writing has been and always will be a really good way to express one’s self. To invite others into their head and to provoke others to think about their own lives, and also to get feedback. I don’t know everything, maybe you do? Maybe you could read this and feel better about yourself in some weird way, maybe it’ll just make you feel less embarrassed about being the new kid too. I mean, the sence of community, the feeling that you’re not alone, isn’t that the whole reason you’re here right now? Isn’t that a big part of Judaism in the first place?

So here I go. Hi. I’m the new kid. The girl who’s converting. The weird and sometimes socially awkward one. The one who just realized she had a need and want for religion in her life. Maybe I’m a little like you, maybe you couldn’t be farther from my story. Either way, I hope you go along with me on my journey, and help me find my place in the great circle of life….er….whatever.

Jacqueline D. is a 20something stupid new converting noob, who likes comic books, nail polish, and will be your best friend if you buy her a slushy. Most of her life is spent over at Mother Mopher where she blogs sometimes.


 

  • josh

    Welcome to the club/tribe/group. Some of my very favorite people at our synagogue out here in Long Beach CA are women who have gone through a similar journey. If we didn’t make them wear huge name tags that say “CONVERT” and sit in a corner, you’d never know they were Jews by choice. Well, that and having them make kishke and cholent (from scratch) before they are allowed to join the service.

    The really cool part is that most congregants have no idea who has converted and who was born Jewish. Nobody really cares–other than being supportive and answering questions and being welcoming.

    I’ll go out on a limb and predict that, over time, your Hebrew knowledge will be better than half of the Jewish adults who were forced to learn Hebrew “old school” in Hebrew school when they were kids. Many of us struggle with the language and have forgotten much of what we learned.

    One suggestion: as you learn, check out different types of congregations and organizations. I have the pleasure of weaving in and out of Reform, Conservative, Orthodox (Chabad) communities and families. I have learned so much just from having a Shabbat dinner with a family with practices different than mine.