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Rated: 13+ · Book · Cultural · #2299971
My journal about my conversion to Judaism.
I started writing my conversion story in June 2023, even though it started before then. It will not be in chronological order as I remember things from the past that brought me to this point in my life. My decision to convert was not an easy one. I grew up Pentecostal. I watched my grandma speak in tongues. My aunt played keyboard in the church band. I used to attend church (a member of a Baptist church for many years) 3 to 4 times a week. I did not start my journey of healing after my divorce and expect to end up here. However, my desire and work to grow closer to G-d has left me no doubt or question about where I am now. I have no hesitation in my conversion to Judaism. This is my story of leaving Christianity and becoming a part of a people that I will be able to, one day, proudly say that I am also. A Jew.
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June 20, 2024 at 6:44pm
June 20, 2024 at 6:44pm
#1072953
I think my stress level has hit a new high. I love that I am moving onto the next step, but doing this is hard. I couldn't move to the community without a job first. Now that I have a job, I need housing quick. However, I am still under contract with my apartment until the end of September. I am now frantically trying to find a place to live, doing entry paperwork for my new job, registering for workshops that are weeks before I was told my start date would be, and wondering how I am going to move once I find a place and be able to afford rent on both places on top of a down payment.

I had to turn down the second job offer, which I have never done before, turn down another job interview, which I have never done before, and tell my boss that I am going to resign my position for a new job.

I am emotionally spent by hurting others because I am abandoning them. I don't want to do anything. I just want to lay in my bed and cry.

I know I need to do this. When I am all set up and the school year has started, and when I am settled in a new place, I know I will be okay. That day, however, is not today.

Today I am not okay. I do not like this step of conversion at all.

I love you Hashem. I trust you Hashem.
June 17, 2024 at 10:53pm
June 17, 2024 at 10:53pm
#1072831
I think one of my favorite holidays so far is Shavuot. I love everything about it: the reading of the Ten Commandments, the gatherings, the dairy food, the two days of prayers, the Priestly Blessing, no work, no electronics, and still the ability to take hot showers. It was comfortable, and it was spiritual (which was very uplifting). I spent Tuesday night until Sunday afternoon in the community with friends. It was just what I needed for the world to feel right for a while.

Over the holiday, I did have a panic attack for the first time in a while though. I was staying with friends and they were invited to lunch for the holiday, so I went with them. I had never met the family that we had lunch with. There were five tables set up and people there that I had never met. At first, I admit, I panicked. But the family was amazing, the food was amazing, and all the guests were wonderful. I received a blessing for the first time ever in my life. It was an experience that I will never forget.

I have been working on moving to the community for my conversion. The day after Shavuot, I had two interviews. Within two hours of completing both interviews, I had two job offers. Today, I accepted one. They made me an offer I could not refuse ($8000 more didn't hurt either).

Now, I just need a place to live. And to tell my boss that I accepted another job. I'm excited about the first thing. Not the second.
June 10, 2024 at 8:03pm
June 10, 2024 at 8:03pm
#1072450
I have a couple of things with this conversion that I am really struggling with today.

I am still working on moving to the community. I have to have a job to be able to apply for an apartment. I have had two phone interviews. One today. Friday, I have a follow up in person interview from my first phone interview. I should have another in person interview scheduled by next week Tuesday.

Many of my coworkers and students (current as well as previous) asked me if I was leaving. I was honest. I had students tell me that I am abandoning them. I had parents upset because I wouldn't be teaching their children next year. Parents, coworkers, and students said they were going to pray that I didn't get hired. Leaving my current job really is hard. I love them even more than they seem to like me. However, I need to go.

I received my lease renewal last Friday. I haven't even opened it yet.

Shavuot is this week. I will be going down and staying in the community with wonderful people. Leaving there to come back here will be hard. It is always hard. I can't keep living two lives, and I've chosen because I know where I need to be.

I have to admit that some parts of this conversion are really hard. Leaving my job for another one is hard. Having one foot in the community and one foot out is hard.

Then there is all the antisemitism that is ramping up.

I go the same gas station every Saturday on my way home. The guy that was there was always so nice, the gas was the cheapest around, and for a bonus, they have my sweet tea in cans. That guy hasn't been there the past few times I have been there. His brother has who looks at me with such hatred that I try not to visibly shake.

Then there is my Muslim friend from Morocco that posted on one of the videos that show the hostages being reunited with their families. He said, "So you admire Israel Genocide in phalastine ??"

Then I have other friends that tell me conversion shouldn't be this hard. Then an argument ensues.

Do I enjoy more tension with friends? Do I enjoy hearing comments and wondering if I am safe because of the jewelry that I am wearing or because of my beliefs?

This isn't fun. This is hard. This scary sometimes.

Asking me to stop my conversion is like asking me to stop breathing. I just want to worship G-d the way he wants me to worship him. This is what he has shown me he wants, and I can't go back. I can't go back to a life of one toe in and surface level preaching with manipulative narratives that serve only the purpose of the preacher. I can't go back to a life without thinking of G-d the very moment I am conscious, and praying, and thanking him, and understanding him better, and growing closer than I ever thought was possible. I can't go back. I don't want to go back. This is the relationship with G-d that I have been looking for my entire life. Even in the hard and scary moments, how could I give that up?


June 3, 2024 at 9:45pm
June 3, 2024 at 9:45pm
#1072117
This past Shabbat we said a blessing for the new month. It was the second month that I did not know what month was next. I had gotten behind on my whiteboard because of work. Sometimes when I don't know things like that: days of the week, the month, etc., I feel like a little child. I'm learning everything all over again. Not just how to pronounce Monday in another language, but an entire different calendar system. I don't have it down yet, and it makes me feel so inadequate. It's been a year that I have been studying the holidays and going through the Hebrew calendar, but I still feel behind. I know that with work, and Hebrew classes, and Chabad Academy classes, and the Ark online, and books I'm reading, and anything else I can get my hands on, I'm being way to hard on myself. The problem is that the more I know, the more I can do. I want nothing more than to worship Hashem the way he wants me to worship him. I can't do what I don't know to do. G-d has been so good to me. I just want everything I do to make him happy. I know that is not always going to happen, but the more I know, the better person I can be, and the better I am able to follow his will for my life.

I know I have come so far. I am not having to hide in a stranger's bathroom and having a panic attack. I don't have to google every other word to understand a sentence. I have good prayer habits. I study Torah every week. I want more than ever to be a Jew. I don't ever want to go back to just being.
June 2, 2024 at 11:00pm
June 2, 2024 at 11:00pm
#1072066
Shabbat was perfect. It's not often that anyone can say that a day was perfect. I ran late (like always), but there was an energy in the air and in the singing that I had missed for a while. For a whole day, the balance between light and dark seemed to be restored. I didn't feel the pressure of darkness. I felt the light that I have been missing. It wasn't one particular person. It wasn't even a group of people. It was the entire day. It was the prayers, the people, the singing, the Torah, the message, the food, the nap, the everything. There was a deep feeling that even though the world was not at peace, my soul was at peace.

I was where I belonged, and I could feel it.

I left the community very late. I didn't get to do Havdalah. I ended the Shabbat driving home. Never have I ever felt the separation of Shabbat and the weekday like I did this time. I could feel the great light leave, and it was sad. I felt like I lost something, but the Shabbat just ended and the weekday began. It was almost midnight when I made it home.

When work gets exhausting, life gets overwhelming, and people let me down, for one special day, none of that matters. Shabbat.

Best Shabbat yet.
May 31, 2024 at 9:06pm
May 31, 2024 at 9:06pm
#1071953
It is the end of the school year, so my days are extra long. If I don't have time to do the Schema before I leave for work because I need to be there extra early, I take my Siddur so I can do it during my prep hour. My days have been so long that I have repeatedly been falling asleep while praying the bedtime prayer. It breaks my heart, because that is my favorite prayer. I passed on a Hebrew lesson last night so I could get to bed a little earlier and make it through the entire prayer.

It's not just the length of my days that are throwing off my studying. I was at an awards ceremony to present awards for a few departments. The group of students who received a 3.9 to 4.0 were getting onto the stage and the guy behind me said, "Good thing there are no Jews here." I was floored. I did not know how to take that statement.

I have so much more to say, but Shabbat is starting soon. Good Shabbos.
May 23, 2024 at 10:57pm
May 23, 2024 at 10:57pm
#1071610
I think everyone has heard of Passover when the blood of a lamb was put on the doorposts and the firstborn was killed. What not everyone knows is that the night that they killed the lamb, there were some that could not participate because they were in charge of taking care of Jacob's bones. Those people were ritually impure and could not participate in the sacrifice to G-d. They, however, wanted to be able to serve also and thought it wasn't fair that they missed out. G-d agreed to give them a second chance. Thirty days later is Pesach Sheni, the second (or little) Passover.

Though there are traditions that come with the holiday, like eating matzah, but Pesach Sheni has so much more meaning than the few traditions that accompany it. Pesach Sheni comes with an amazing and inspiring message of hope and second chances. The idea is that no matter what you have done in your life, there is always the chance to change and to come back to Hashem. The idea of second chances and repentance is a common and recurring theme in Judaism. G-d forgives. All that matters is that you come back to G-d.

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed with work on Pesach Sheni and didn't even think about it. However, I had a hankering for matzah (and my daughter did too) so we ate it with dinner. It was during my Hebrew class a little bit later when I said, "אני אוכלת מצה" or, in English, "I am eating matzah" that my teacher GZ reminded me that it was the holiday.

Only in Judaism is there an entire holiday dedicated to second chances to get right with G-d. What a G-d we have!
May 19, 2024 at 7:55pm
May 19, 2024 at 7:55pm
#1071386
So many things have hit my heart this past weekend. Not in a bad way, but in a way that made me think about my responsibilities to G-d because I love him.

I didn't go to shul because I needed to find the missing spark of life and see the world as more than just a dark place. I won't lie, there is still a darkness that wasn't there before, and I don't know when that darkness will become hidden again by the overwhelming presence of light. However, there are so many lessons that I learned over the past year that took root in my heart this weekend and reinforced that this journey of converting to Judaism is anchored in the desire to follow the will of G-d. Sometimes it take a culmination of multiple lessons to bring one out of darkness and back into the light.

On my way to work Friday, I ran over a bird in the middle of the road. I thought it was dead when I ran over it, because it just sat there without moving. However, when I looked into my rearview mirror, I saw it hopping to the side of the road. It was alive when I ran it over, and it lived after my car passed over its head. I thought about a part of lesson that one of the rabbi's had taught that G-d took care of every bird, knew the number of feathers it had and lost, and knew the very moment that bird would die. I have always had a sense of comfort by birds and felt that a bird close to me was G-d's way of telling me that he will take of me. I have definitely been run over with grief these past couple of weeks, and every moment G-d has been there to take care of me. I have no doubts that he will continue in every aspect of my life.

I ran over a snake slithering across the road on my way home (there is always a lot of wildlife where I live so this is actually a normal day). I was afraid for a moment that my back tire would have gotten part of its body or head, but when I looked in my rearview mirror, and it was raising it head to bite (I assume my car). The part of a prayer (from Tehillim 91) for bedtime that says, "He will command his angles for you, to protect you in all your ways. They will carry you on palms, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the viper; you will trample the young lion and the serpent. For he has yearned for me and I will deliver him." I felt safe and protected, and not just because I was in a metal car.

As I held that baby girl in my arms and watched the big sister of the baby, whose 2nd birthday party I was attending, run around and play, I felt the potential of light shining through this darkness that overwhelmed my view of the world. It reminded me of the Jewish philosophy that you were born at a specific moment in time because G-d thought the world would not be complete without you. I have lost three people to suicide in the past 6 years. But instead of focusing on the loss, while I held that smiling, slobbering, baby, I thought I about the light that those three people gave the world the time I did have with them. I could feel the love and the light they shared, and it was still there inside me. Then a friend's voice came to mind and what he told me about honoring those who have passed by doing a good deed for them since they can't do it themselves anymore. Though he is not Jewish, his words of comfort resonated a Jewish idea of doing a mitzvah (good deed) to elevate the soul of a loved one who had passed. Then I had come to mind the quote, "When the world is at it's darkest, we must shine our light even brighter."

I was able to light candles, which was the last of my tears for Shabbat. I easily prayed the Shabbat service. I easily said the Wayfarer's prayer (Tefilat Haderech) as I drove to my cousin's. I prayed for the counting of the Omer. Then, I fell asleep during the bedtime prayer, but it was after 1am, so I think I get a little grace on that one. Prayers this morning were easy and fulfilling. I'm happy that I can pray again without breaking down and pray with purpose.

I know my world will get bright again, and I will continue to let G-d show his light through me as long as I have breath. Thank you G-d for everything. I love you.
May 15, 2024 at 8:06pm
May 15, 2024 at 8:06pm
#1071168
I finally updated my wall calendar last night. It was not happening the past two weeks. I need to add a couple things to it, and there is one week that I didn't write down the candle lighting and end of Shabbat times. I don't remember them and would have to look them up. It doesn't seem necessary.

I've been able to start listening to The Ark videos again.

I have been able to pray part of the bedtime prayer. I start crying and fall asleep before completing past the Shema. I can make it through the morning blessings again in Hebrew. On my way to work, I have decided to read the Wayfarer's Prayer in Hebrew. I have had to look it up anyway, so if I'm going to be reading it, I might as well do it with a more powerful language. Crying during that prayer is normal. I always do.

I wonder when I will be able to pray and just talk to G-d without crying out in pain to him. The world still feels so dark. Everything feels dark. Even the way the light shines on the leaves of the trees outside my window is different, darker. I miss the feeling of the room as I pray and I can feel G-d's presence and attention to my words, and his patience as I read slowly in Hebrew, and his happiness as I add my own words of love for him and then keep going, I miss his presence so full of light and warmth and hope.

I know that G-d is still with me and comforting me when I need it. He reminds me of the little things that bring hope just enough to keep going and make it through the day. He continues to show me that my conversion journey is not over. I said a brucha over a bagel while at my desk at work and heard a voice in my ear say, "You should have washed your hands first." I laughed and said, "Yes, I should have." I don't think any students heard me talking to myself, but it made me feel a bit more like myself.

I'm looking forward to the day when my prayer are again full of substance instead of my cry, "I need you my king."



May 13, 2024 at 12:03am
May 13, 2024 at 12:03am
#1070998
My heart is broken. Functioning this past week as almost impossible. I didn't talk to some people I loved, because I couldn't. I didn't attend some Hebrew classes, because I couldn't. I know what Judaism believes about death, but I spend days researching it anyway. I never expected grief to be a subject of one of my conversion entries, but Hashem has his own road map of my life.

I had a friend who died by gunshot wound last week. His story was in the papers. He was a teacher that I had gone to college with, tutored with in college, and worked at the same school with (both of our first teaching jobs). I had gone to college with his mother, his wife, and his brother. I remember him proposing to his wife. His smile was contagious, and he was willing to help anyone and gave his all to teaching others. He was a bright light that lit the fires of so many others.

He was also a light to me.

Grief has rules in Judaism. You are permitted to grieve for a week, then again in 30 days, a year, and every anniversary of their death. This is how the grieving process has gone for me.

Day 1 was shock. I was added to a group chat of college classmates with the same reaction of shock.

Day 2 shock and sadness and watched as the group chat talked good things about him, because he was all good. I started having private conversations with Hashem during my prayers. I never made it through any of them.

Day 3 I could not function. I went to work and informed a college who went to college with me and the person who died. Then, I broke. I put a blooket game on for students for them to play on material that we hadn't even covered yet just for something for them to do and still feel as though I was contributing to their learning or exposure of content. I cried repeatedly without the ability to stop. I called the school social worker and broke down in front of her. I have no idea how I conducted class after class. Even though I was there, I wasn't there. It was teacher appreciation week, and the lunch that was delivered was full of dairy and meat mixed. I gave mine away. I messaged my American Rabbi. I just wanted to get through the day. His response helped me to do that. I went home and went to bed. I never made it through a prayer all day. I tried, but the name of G-d, Adonai, Hashem, or any name for G-d made me stop and cry. My heart ached too much. I couldn't pray. My heart just called out to G-d in pain. In bed, while crying, I talked with my Hebrew tutor, GZ, on the phone. I talked with my prayer tutor, L, on the phone. Somehow, I slept.

Day 4 I cried out of the blue. I made plans with classmates to meet them at the funeral home for the showing. I had a responsibility to be there for his wife, his mother, and his brother. I taught content somehow between my breakdowns. The teacher appreciation lunch that was delivered had ham and cheese. I didn't eat. I made challah dough. A double batch. It rose a little long and I had a small mess to clean up. I checked in with multiple people this day: the school councilor, GZ, L, and messaged all my children to tell them I loved them. Again, praying was hard. I didn't make it through a prayer. My heart was still crying out in pain to Hashem.

Day 5 I took a half day so I could get in a short nap before driving across the state to make it to the funeral home. I taught content again during the hours I was there between my breakdowns. When I walked out of class in tears, the kids worried. I don't remember the teacher appreciation lunch or if I ate anything. I don't remember the drive to the funeral home. I stood in the funeral home outside the entrance and watched the video of my friend. In every picture throughout his childhood and adulthood, he had a big amazing smile on his face. I stood there for an hour. A friend showed up from college and walked in first. I somehow followed. I couldn't look at the open casket. It wasn't my friend. He was gone. I made his wife laugh, I hugged her tightly a couple times. I held his mother and father's hands. When his mother spoke, that's when I was informed, suicide. He died by suicide. I continued through the line hugging his sister and making his brother laugh. I was numb and broken. I can't imagine how they felt. I walked to a pizza place with my friend and his wife, caught up, and somehow drove home. I checked in with the same people and two of my daughters. I made it through the traveler's prayer in English on my way to work. That was the only prayer I made it through. I just held my siddur and kissed it, both in the morning and at night. Again, I couldn't get any words to come from my lips. My heart spoke to Hashem.

Day 6 I functioned most of the day at school and only broke down during class a few times. I have no idea what I did this day, but I remember that there was cheese pizza at lunch. My boss talked to me in the lunch room about the reference letter he sent. I hadn't looked at it yet. He said he hoped it helped, but at the same time that it doesn't. I knew what he meant. I made up a Hebrew class I missed, I think, or did I make my classes? I don't even remember. At crochet club, we played a card game. I watched everyone else laugh. If I laughed, I I don't remember. There was no joy in anything. I shared with my coworker what was going on before going home. I baked challah because it was Thursday. I have no idea how I did it. I made 8 loaves and a couple dozen rolls. I spent time researching death on Chabad. I attended a few Hebrew classes, and I private tutored a student in another state over Zoom at no charge. I chatted with random people about random things. I tried to attend a class with a Rabbi. I cried. A lot. I realized that I hadn't said Modeh Ani when I woke. I said it while saying part of the morning blessings. That is all I made it through.

Day 7 I tried to be okay. I still cried, but I was able to answer questions of students. I thought that the 7 day mourning rule was stupid. I cried without warning and had no control over the strength or length of my tears. My students ate bread every hour. Not a single person made a mess. How did 150 kids eat bread in my classroom and not make a mess? I taught a lesson and kids listened. I made it through the traveler's prayer in Hebrew. I said the Modeh Ani when I woke. I said the blessings and tried to make it through more prayer, but couldn't. After work, I packed a suitcase and headed to my daughter D house. She and her husband drove me down to a hotel within walking distance of my shul. I cried multiple times, but I said the traveler's prayer again in Hebrew. I didn't make it though anything else.

Day 8 I walked to shul. I tried to be okay. I put on make up (which broke Shabbat) so I wouldn't cry. My son-in-law pushed the elevator buttons for me. I wondered if I should have even been in an elevator. I caught myself every time I broke Shabbat. I shouldn't have pushed that button, or that button. I shouldn't have used my cell phone as an alarm. I shouldn't have used the GPS to make it until I knew where I was. I shouldn't have turned off my phone. I couldn't pray at shul though I tried. I couldn't follow along with the Torah or the Rabbi's message. I've never left shul having no idea what the message was about. I kept crying and tried hard to hold it in. It didn't work, and everyone was concerned. I was given a wad of tissues. I didn't want to tell anyone what happened, because it was Shabbat. Being sad is not permitted on Shabbat. I took an invitation (actually 2 separate ones by the same family) to go to lunch. I was thankful they asked, so I didn't have to go downstairs and cry in front of a large amount of people. It felt as though part of the light of Shabbat was missing. Part of the light of the sun was missing. Part of the light of my soul was missing. Two small babies (and their parents) joined us for lunch. I couldn't react much with the babies, but I watched them. I tried to feel their smiles and enjoy their giggles and noises. My soul felt as though there was a hole in it. They were a nice distraction and small spark of light. All I could think was that they were alive. That was all that mattered. Those two babies were alive. I went back to the hotel to take a nap. I slept through Women's Tehillim. I went to the lobby and read for two hours making it through 10 chapters. I ate delivery and went back to bed.

Day 9 It's mother's day. I said the Modeh Ani after my shower. I said my morning blessings and prayers. It took over an hour and three breaks, but I did it. I had a wonderful afternoon with my children and a friend. I listened to friendly council, ate good food, and went to stores to shop. I bought a bottle of water. I functioned all day. I attended three Hebrew classes and smiled and laughed at my mistakes. Multiple people from shul reached out to me. I told them what happened. I apologized for crying on Shabbat and thanked them for caring. Never this week did I feel alone. I was never alone. Hashem was with me and made sure there was someone every moment of the day to let me know that Hashem loves me. I still think the 7 day mourning rule is stupid because it is not possible to shut off mourning. However, I can function now. I can pray now, even though my heart cries out to G-d in pain throughout the day. I still feel an overwhelming sense of darkness and imbalance between good and bad in the world. I still feel a light missing from my soul that was there before. My sense of hope is 100% faith and no feeling. I'm still broken. I will try to pray before bed. Even if it is just a paragraph.
May 7, 2024 at 6:13pm
May 7, 2024 at 6:13pm
#1070675
I have been feeling quite worn out, but still feeling like I could be doing more and spend more time studying, learning, and feeling like I'm not making any progress. Feeling stuck is hard. I decided to make sure I recorded more of what I do on my calendar this past month. After just what I recorded, I feel a bit better. There is no way I can do more than what I am currently doing. Sometimes a step back and gaining perspective really helps.

Key to the picture:

Green - Green is dedicated to all videos I watch through the Ark online, Zoom classes with any Rabbi (including the ones at my shul)
Purple - Purple is all of my Hebrew classes with GZ
Blue - Torah readings of the week and Jewish holidays
Red - Candle lighting times and Havdalah times (beginning and ending of Shabbat)
Black - days of the week for both secular and Jewish calendars as well as the month(s) in the secular and Jewish calendars.

What this does not include:
Work schedule (till 4 or 5 every day)
Lesson planning
Working on my other businesses
Driving to shul and back
Time with friends and family
Videos watched on YouTube
Articles and books read
Time studying

In the photo:
The fabric bracelet is a bracelet from the Nova Festival where hundreds of people were murdered
The quote is just a really good quote.




 
 ~
May 1, 2024 at 10:29pm
May 1, 2024 at 10:29pm
#1070383
Pesach was unforgettable. I didn't eat anything made of flour except kosher for Passover matzah. Actually, the only thing I ate was matzah, vegetables and fruit when I was home. Not knowing how to prepare, not having a kosher kitchen, and still wanting to observe as much as I could left me little food options. I honestly say that I never went hungry though. Matzah is very filling and I'm a good enough cook that I can make food with fruit and vegetables and still not eat the same thing every day. Well, except matzah. It was a good experience and I have a better understanding of what I need to do for next year to prepare better.

I did not go to shul this past weekend because of traveling to take care of my dad. I did not pout about it this time though. I did imagine the sight of the Torah scroll being removed from the ark and carried around the room. I heard the voices of the singing as it was returned. I smiled at hearing the Torah read in my mind. I may may have been alone on Shabbat, but I certainly did not feel alone. Familiar voices, faces, and glowing spirits were there with me in my heart as I prayed.

Since I normally drive to break Shabbat, I had to do it another way, so I finished cooking dinner after candle lighting Friday night. Then I answered a phone call on Saturday. I stayed after work to volunteer to work a middle school activity night, so cooking late was an easy way to break Shabbat. I was offered pizza while I was volunteering, but I turned it down because of Pesach. If anyone ever questions if I am serious about conversion, the fact that I turned down pizza to eat matzah is enough to show how serious I am. I mean, it's pizza.

When I went to my dad's, I took my own food so I could still keep Pesach. My dad liked the food I cooked and even liked the matzah. I left him a box. I was nice that he didn't yell at me for a day about my conversion, though he did voice his concern, again. Small victories.

I had a couple of students tell me that they had never tasted matzah before, so today I brought in my two extra boxes. My students at almost both boxes. It was nice watching them break a piece and share it with others. Not nice for the janitor who had to clean up all the crumbs, but brownies will make him forget the mess. I hope.

My students and other staff have mentioned about me leaving next year. The word has spread quite quickly. A staff member did her best to make me feel bad, which I did, about leaving and not being here next year to teach her son. Her walking away to cry out of sight was what got me the most. I'm not just leaving a job, I'm leaving people's lives and futures.

Mixed with these feelings of sadness for this time next year is reflection on the past year. It was during the counting of the Omer that I met my American Rabbi. It's been over year on the secular calendar and a full year of holidays that I have studied. It have only been a year that I have studying with a Rabbi, but it has taken a lifetime to get me to this moment. I can honestly say that I am not the same person that I was a year ago, and I never want to go back.
April 24, 2024 at 11:36pm
April 24, 2024 at 11:36pm
#1069616
The expectation of the Passover Seder: I expected Passover to be a rigid occasion with so much focus on strict rules, readings, and movements. I expected everyone to be tense and serious. This expectation made me nervous. Very nervous.

The challenge: I packed the night before and waited until the cat got out of the suitcase the next morning to close it up. I didn't mind waiting for the cat, because I needed to put my siddur in the suitcase after morning prayers anyway. I pulled into the parking lot at work and heard something break and start grinding. I was sure I had a flat. I got out and didn't see any flat tire. I crawled on the ground in my dress and saw a metal piece of something above the back tire that was making the noise. If I had tried to drive a distance on it, it would have given me a flat. I taught for a couple of hours, then, on my prep, drove my car a block away to the closest shop to the school. They said it was the heat shield and it was "something that happens all the time" and "no big deal". Honestly, I don't know how something can fall off a car and it be fine without it, but I also have no idea what a heat shield is and what function it would serve. They kept the car to look at the fluids and check out a noise just to be safe since I was driving a long way.

I walked the block back to school. I made it right as lunch was starting and students were ready to come into my room to hang out. I continued on with the day (4:00) and expected to pick up my car at the end of my work day with full fluids and to be told that it is really rusty underneath (which I already know). The garage knew I had to leave around 4 to make it to where I needed to go on time. I received a call at 3:00 that my starter went out. They had just tightened a belt and fixed the hole in the exhaust. They took it for a test drive and parked it in front of the garage. They decided they wanted to check the fluids for me, and the car wouldn't start. The starter had gone out.

They told me that they would work hard and fast to get it done on time so I could make it to my Passover Seder. They did get it done just in time for me to drive with one very short bathroom break on the way.

This was not the end. As I was driving, smoke and lights were filling the road in the distance. I did not know if it was a controlled burn for construction or an accident.

The reaction to the challenge: When I heard something break, I had he option to cry (which is usually my first reaction to bad news). I had the option to give up and not try to even make it (it would have been understandable if I did). My heart, instead, went immediately to call upon G-d, so I did. "G-d, you are directing this journey. If you want me to be there, you need to guide me and make it so I can be there. If you don't want me there, then I won't be."

What are the chances that my car breaks down with something major as it is sitting in the hands of a mechanic parked in front of his garage? I know if they had not wanted to give it a good look over, I would have been at a rest area and stranded. I wouldn't have made it to the Seder. I might not have made it down there at all to either of the Seders.

As far as the fire on the highway: It turns out the grass was on fire in multiple places for about a mile of the road. Luckily, it was was on the other side of the highway which was separated by a cement barrier due to construction. I passed everyone that slowed down to stare.

The reality of the Passover Seder: I made it to the house where I was staying with maybe ten minutes to spare before candle lighting. It was a night (long night) full of laughter, joy, tradition, stories, food, great company, and acceptance of my abundance of questions. Going through the Haggadah (the Passover Seder instructions and the story of the exodus from Egypt), was an experience that was fun, magical, and holy. It gave me the chills every time we went through the list of what G-d had done. He did a lot of miracles in such a short amount of time. It was an uplifting experience that I am so grateful to have had the chance to experience.

Thank you Hashem for guiding me, loving me, and giving me so much more than I deserve.

April 21, 2024 at 11:00pm
April 21, 2024 at 11:00pm
#1069361
This was the worst Shabbat that I have had, but I don't really want to focus on what went wrong. I have so many things to look forward to this week, that one bad Shabbat can't be my focus.

I do not have a kosher kitchen (which I have talked about repeatedly), so cleaning to prepare for Pesach doesn't really make sense. However, I wanted to try out a few things and learn what foods I can and cannot eat. I tried to use up all of my flour. I used up everything that I normally had, except the special flour that I bought for Grandma Ditza's Semolina Cookies. Grandma Ditza was one of the hostages kidnapped on October 7th. She was also one that was released in the first round of negotiations. I don't remember how I came across her recipe and the website with her information on it, but I'm glad I did. Not only will I think about the hostages every time I make the cookies in the future (which I will because they are surprisingly delicious and easy to make), but I will think about what I can do to give to someone in need and be thankful for for the chance to do so. My life has repeatedly touched by people that I have never met and these cookies (as weird as it may sound) is a small reminder of the impact that I can have one others, even if it's just giving some cookies that I make.

Recipe to Grandma Ditza's Semolina Cookies: https://www.oogio.net/ditzas_cookies/

Tomorrow, after work, I am going to a friend's house to stay for a couple of nights and experience my first Seder. As I have been going through my kitchen and taking inventory of what would be considered no kosher for Passover, I also have had to think about what I am packing for my stay in the community. I do not want to bring in anything to the house I will be staying that is not kosher for Passover. It wasn't until my prayer tutor L mentioned toothpaste that I asked about it. I already had planned to buy a new toothbrush, but I didn't think about toothpaste. I never thought about toothpaste as needing to be kosher at all. Colgate is kosher for Passover. I bought a tube and set it aside with the new toothbrush. I usually use Aim, which apparently is kosher for Passover. What makes toothpaste kosher or not kosher? I understand corn starch or other grain in toothpaste would make it not kosher for Passover, but is there kosher toothpaste for daily use? Is there toothpaste that I shouldn't be using?

With the wars going on right now and the hostages still in captivity, it seems ridiculous to worry about what kind of toothpaste I should be using. At least it does on the surface. It only takes me a moment to switch my thinking though. Everything I do at every moment impacts the lives of others. Just like at Grandma Ditza's cookies. Everything I do, from the moment I wake in the morning until the moment sleep takes over me at night, should be done with a focus on honoring Hashem. If Hashem cares about what toothpaste I use and when I use it, than it has to matter to me as well. Do I think that buying a tube of Colgate will have a lasting impact on anyone? No, I don't. But that is not why we do things. If G-d says to do it, we do. Did Grandma Ditza know that when she made her family semolina cookies that a strange woman on the other side of the earth would be using her recipe and thinking about her when she did it? No, doubtful that she did.

As work has become overwhelming, and learning has become overwhelming, and these feelings and emotions and experiences of conversion have become overwhelming, it has been a nice to take a step back and remember that every moment of every day has a purpose and an impact one someone's life. Even when we think we are living our most insignificant moments, as long as we are serving and loving G-d, we are changing the world for the better.

Have a great Pesach.
April 12, 2024 at 6:56pm
April 12, 2024 at 6:56pm
#1068624
Shabbat begins soon and instead of preparing - which I need to - I am looking at job postings and submitting applications again. I had to stop though before I became frustrated or depressed.

It's hard at work when my boss and others are asking if I am leaving next year or staying. All I can say is that I don't know. I know my boss doesn't want me to move, and students and coworkers don't want me to move. Not being able to give a definitive answer is difficult. I need to move for my conversion (which is not shared knowledge at work), but certain things have to happen before I can say that I am moving.

I can't move until I have a job because I can't pay rent until I have an income. I can't even get a place to rent until I have income in the area. So the very first step is getting a job and I seem to be an utter failure at securing a job in the area I need to move.

What's bothering me besides not securing a job position is that I am going to have to say if I am staying in my apartment for another year or not very soon. Once I commit to staying, it will be even more expensive to move and break the lease.

I'm trying not be down or frustrated. It has been a long week, and I want to go to bed, but I can't until I light my Shabbat candles. I baked challah for tonight, but I'm so tired that I don't even want to make dinner, make kiddush, or do anything tonight except sleep. However, I know once I light the candles and usher in the Shabbat Queen, all of that will change and I will be my normal happy self and feeling blessed.

Time to let go and let G-d.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
April 10, 2024 at 10:13pm
April 10, 2024 at 10:13pm
#1068479
Some vocabulary in this entry (if needed):
Pesach: The eight days of the Jewish Passover, not to be confused with Easter or the one night of Passover in the Christian religion.
chametz: the five grains raw - wheat, oats, rye, barley, and spelt - or anything made from them that has come into contact with water and become "leavened."
traif: not kosher

As Pesach approaches, I think more about what my kosher kitchen will look like. At least in my mind. My youngest daughter, A2, moved back home (thankfully), which makes me think more about how I will navigate my two worlds. I will need meat and dairy dishes, but I also need traif dishes for my children to use. They do not separate meat and dairy, and I can't expect them to follow everything with Judaism like me. I also think about dishes and how I can keep a functional kosher kitchen with non-kosher living companions (including the cat).

Not only are pans and dishes on my mind, but food itself. While every Jewish woman is searching for chametz in their home to burn it or sell it, I'm wondering how I can manage a kitchen and household where different rules and expectations apply to the people who live there. How is it possible? How can I clean for Pesach when half of the house is not in need of following that law? What do I get rid of since we eat some things together? What exactly should be considered as "hers" and what is considered as "mine?" I have to feed her, and she is not required to eat matzah during this time. How is that going to work?

Again, all of this is questions for the future because I do not have a kosher kitchen at the present time. Anything I do now would be for building habits. I am determined to learn as much as I can this Pesach. I know that a year ago, I was just learning about the basics of what Pesach was and had very little understanding of Jewish beliefs and traditions. Well, at least compared to now.

I'm trying to remember that I am not stuck. I am right where Hashem wants me to be and when that changes is up to him. I am still planning for the future and giving Hashem as many vessels as it takes to get me to where he wants me to be and to show him that I trust him and believe that he wants what is best for me in my life.

I look forward to the day that I am no longer straddling two different worlds, but instead be a part of my new world and bring that world to my old world and say, "I know who I used to be, but this is who I am now." Though the day is not today, I know that I have passed surface level and am digging deeper into the details.. When details are studied with purpose, those beliefs become part of your life and your identity. I am not stuck. I am making vessels in the core of my being for Hashem to fill and I know that he is filling them.

Thank you Hashem for loving me.
April 8, 2024 at 8:34pm
April 8, 2024 at 8:34pm
#1068101
Today was the solar eclipse. I heard a lot of Jewish wisdom about the eclipse. Including a video that a friend sent me about the eclipse. In a solar eclipse, the moon crosses in front of the sun. The sun shines by day and the moon by night. The night is associated with romance. Sometimes when things are at their darkest during the day, a little bit of love can help us get through. Things have been very difficult recently all around the world. One way for Hashem to show us that he is still here and that everything will be all right is by giving us a little bit more love. Therefore, when the moon covered the sun, all the bad things that are happening all around the world, just for a moment, was covered under the vail of G-d's love. We don't always need to hear someone tell us that they love us, we need to see it through their actions, including a hug. The eclipse is one way for Hashem to tell us, "I love you, and everything will be okay." Thank you for the extra love today, Hashem. There were a lot of people who needed it today.
March 30, 2024 at 10:06pm
March 30, 2024 at 10:06pm
#1067205
Spring break is almost over, and I go back to work on Monday. April Fool's Day. I think back to where I was one year ago today. What was I doing ending my spring break last year. A lot has changed in a year. I have changed a lot in a year. I don't ever want to go back.

This path that Hashem has asked me to walk is not easy, but my life has never been easy. Why would I expect this to be any different? However, the truth is that it has been different. With all my hardships that I have faced in my life, I never in a million years would have thought that I greatest heartbreak is not praying in synagogue on Shabbat. I feel blessed beyond belief that with all my struggles in life, even those that are current, this is my biggest heartbreak.

I didn't make it to the synagogue today. My break light came on again as I was pulling out onto the road. G-d already used the event from earlier this week to let me know that my break lines were fine and my breaks were fine. I know it is just air in the break line and it will be fixed with just a little bit of break fluid, but I'll be honest. I'm a girl. A real girl that believes there are men on this earth for a reason. Fixing cars for girls is one of those reasons. At least for me, it is. A kind voice on the other end of the phone talked me out of stressing and reminded me not to worry or to give up. I thank him for that. It's great to be blessed with people in my life with such good hearts.

I will make it back to synagogue next week, or the next, or the next. I don't know why G-d does what he does, but I trust in G-d's timing. Who knows what could have happened on the road in the rain as people head home from spring break. Air in my break lines may have saved my life. Who knows.

I had plenty of leftovers from dinner last night, so I didn't go hungry today even though I couldn't cook. I had a challah in the freezer that I had taken out and used last night, so I was able to eat a bit more of that today, though I didn't do kiddush today.

I'm sorry for those that were expecting me and I wasn't there. I will see you soon. G-d willing.

I watched videos today to break Shabbat since I couldn't drive. Never have there been so many Jewish videos on my feed. One in particular was certainly meant for me. It was a Rabbi who answered a question, "Can a Jew be reincarnated as a non-Jew?" I already knew the answer to the question, but it was nice to hear it again, especially now. His answer was yes. A convert who goes through the proper conversion, i.e. a convert who converts, is a person who was born with a Jewish soul. He didn't get into the reasons why a person would be born with a Jewish soul and need to go through the conversion process. What is the point? What kind of person was I that I needed to go through everything that I have gone through just to worship G-d the way he wants me to? What is it that I need to learn that I haven't yet that is making this conversion so hard or forcing me to wait?

All I know is that I love you Hashem with all that I am.

https://youtu.be/yHF1RbbfB5U?si=2v6X6N1H05NqvRfY

Shavua tov everyone.


March 28, 2024 at 4:21pm
March 28, 2024 at 4:21pm
#1067095
Let me tell you a story of how Hashem answers the prayers of someone who is unable to take hints and needs obvious and blunt answers. This is a true story.

I have been extremely discouraged and life has seemed to big for me lately. As life has been throwing me curve balls, I have wondered why Hashem would have me go through all of this and then as my first year of studying is near it's end, he leaves me here. I started this with Hashem's leading and prodding. I have taken every step regardless of my level of understanding of where he is leading if I had any understanding at all. But I've done this will full faith in him that he wants this for my life. Lately, I have wondered if this was it. Am I at the end? Do I need to step back and take a break or continue at all? What has made me feel this way?

Why was I wondering if Hashem wanted me to give up on conversion? It certainly is not the community that I have been visiting. Purim was just another example of how wonderful those people are. I had no idea what to expect for the holiday and there was not a single second that I felt lost because there was always someone there to explain what was happening and what was going to happen next. The amount of Purim gifts that I received was surprising since I don't live there, but they were delivered to the house that I was staying. They are so welcoming and loving and amazing.

Even with all the learning that I have been doing with the community, with the Rabbis, with The Ark Online, with my Torah classes, with my Hebrew classes, and with my prayers, I have been feeling stuck. I can't continue my conversion without moving to the community. I can't move to the community without a place to live. I can't get a place to live without a job in the area. I've been working to create my vessels for Hashem to use to fulfill the needs I have, but it hasn't happened. So I've felt stuck, and I've wondered if I am needing to be patient for Hashem's perfect blessing, or if I should even continue trying.

I have worried. I have cried. I have prayed. It is always when I give in to Hashem's will and resign to accept his will regardless of his decision that my prayers are answered. If I don't willingly do it on my own, Hashem will put me in the situation to for me to have no choice but to do just that, resign to accept his will regardless of his decision.

The conclusion to the story starts during the Purim dinner Sunday night. I thought it was just a fun dinner with great friends, funny costumes, and great memories. I, and everyone at my table, wrote a letter to the IDF soldiers with markers. There was a spot that said, "The mitzvah I will do.." and gave space to write something. I wanted to give to a Jewish charity with the soldiers in mind.

It is not a secret that previous abuse has caused me to be very mistrustful of men. Because of this, there is no place that leaves me feeling more vulnerable then a place that involves cars. As I sat in a Target parking lot in strange city with my daughter in the car and a red break light glaring at me, I cried. All I could do was think about the possible outcomes.

1 - it would be nothing and I would continue with my trip to my daughter's (A1) like nothing had changed.
2 - it would cost a lot and I would not be able to give much charity or continue to go to synagogue for a while because I would have to figure out to pay off my newly maxed out credit card balance with an empty bank account.
3 - I would have to get a new car and not be able to continue my conversion because I would have to put all my extra money used for gas into a new car payment.

So I cried in the bathroom where my daughter wouldn't see and avoided her gaze. It was an hour before my appointment, so I walked around Target half looking at things. I had a notification come across my Facebook page to follow a page of someone's whose post I had liked. Emotionally tired, I sat in the cafe scrolling through the stranger's page. I immediately saw the post I had liked. It was children's book of Esther that I had seen and had thought of buying. As I scrolled through their page, I didn't know why that one post would have come across my feed. I was not friends with this person and had never seen any other post by this person. There were a couple good posts about Torah and a couple questionable posts, but then there was a post for a fundraiser for his son to attend a camp that he had attended the previous year. I looked at it briefly and headed to the garage that was going to decide my future.

As I sat there in the garage, in this foreign city, with men all around me, I watched my car go up and down multiple times. I heard the tools that used to work on my car. I scrolled through Facebook, talked to the old men sitting in the waiting room, and looked again at the fundraiser for that boy. When the nice old guy left, I stared out the window talking to Hashem. There was nothing I could do. So I said, My life is in your hands Hashem. I have resigned to give you everything because everything is yours. I am here because I am following your will. If you want my conversion to continue, you will make a way. If you let these men take advantage of me, whatever I have left from a payment of $100 on my credit card bill from this repair, I will give to the boy for camp, and stay home from synagogue for a while. If I have to get a new car, I will stop my conversion and know you want me to go a different way. I will not be angry at you regardless of what you choose, though you know I will miss the community greatly. Like always before Hashem answers my prayer and tells me what to do, I was at peace with his decision. I would either give up conversion and worship G-d a different way, or not give up conversion and continue to worship him this way.

As they finished working on my car, I tested my daughter's Spanish skills with posts from Yaakov Medina that always inspire me. The guy behind the counter said that they were putting everything back together and that I needed to make sure I checked the front breaks. He tried to explain something else to me, and I was honest that I had no idea what he was saying. Finally, they took my van for a test drive. The guy came in and gave the guy behind the counter the keys to my van and sat down and started typing at the computer. I collected my keys and waited for my fate with my wallet in my hand. These men had no idea what their decision would mean for my life. Then he lied. I know he lied. My daughter knows he lied. He said that they only put break fluid in and that I didn't have to pay anything. Let me repeat that. I didn't have to pay anything. Nothing. Not a cent. I paid nothing. I said that I would leave a good review and quickly left before I started crying again.

We never know how our lives and decisions impact others. Their decision no matter what they decided was going to be the answer to my prayer. I did not expect such a blatant answer of, "No, don't give up." Message received, G-d. I will not give up. I will understand that I am not stuck, and that I am just waiting for your perfect timing.

The gave the boy the full $100.

I have done everything I can to keep this blog anonymous, as well as anyone mentioned in the blog. If you would like to donate to the same cause, the link to the donation page is below. Again, I do not know the family that posted the fundraiser or any family that is receiving funds. I gave to the Yess family.

If you are ever in the area, the link to the business that blessed me is also below. Again, I do not live there, my daughter does not live there, and I know no one who does live in that town. However, my breaks do work great, so they are good at what they do. Even if I had paid, I would still recommend them.

Thank you Hashem for loving me. I love you with all that I am.

https://www.aamufflerandbrakes.com/

https://givebutter.com/pioneers2024?fbclid=IwAR3dJdUWYJkbnjeYhscn7OGg03M7x77erzY...

https://youtu.be/ROKrM6K1_w4

March 21, 2024 at 7:24pm
March 21, 2024 at 7:24pm
#1066693
Today is the Fast of Esther. The fast is done the day before Purim except when Purim is on a Sunday (like this year) and then it is on the Thursday before (so as not to interfere with Shabbat). Tomorrow I will be trying to leave before the snow hits and make it down state to a friend's house from the community, where I am going to spend the entire weekend to be able to attend all events for Purim. I am very excited about Purim for many reasons.

Reason 1: It sounds like a lot of fun!
Reason 2: This is the last holiday that I studied alone before studying with Chabad Academy and my American Rabbi.
Reason 3: This is the holiday that made be really begin to question Christianity.

I remember talking with my pastor after church one day about the book of Ester that I was studying. I asked why we don't celebrate it when the book clearly says that it will be celebrated forever. He said that we would celebrate it in the world to come. I did not accept that answer as a good reason. Why wouldn't we do it now? There was nothing in the bible that says to stop celebrating the holiday of Purim. I have always wanted to know what it was like to celebrate the holiday, and I finally get my chance!


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