If you were expecting my music blog well you are at the right place but its just not that particular blog but you are most welcome to read it anyway. Its just been a weird bizarre week full of good things and full of strange occurrences. If you are one of the people close to me then it is likely you know that I am in the process of converting to Judaism. It is something I have wanted for a really long time, and the funny (not ha ha) thing about my journey is that for the first time it does not feel like I am fighting God, like I am swimming upstream all of the time. For most of my 57 years I have felt disconnected from God and for the last 20 years I have felt punished by God. I have railed against him angrily, fallen to my knees crying asking for forgiveness for being born. Its been painful and I have felt like I am walking on a knife edge for a long time. I could go on, there is more but honestly you don’t need to know all this and I would hope that you would at least respect that before you read this and share it with someone else or talk about it.
My journey to Judaism began a long time ago and it began because I recognized that our office wasn’t as neutral about the holiday season as they claimed. Oh sure it was mandated that we say Happy Holidays but all of the decorations were about Christmas. They put little Christmas trees on all the cubicles and each unit had holiday parties and Secret Santa only I had a Jewish girl who worked on my team and I just felt it certainly wasn’t fair to her and wondered how she felt about it all so I asked. She blew me off, said it was no big deal as she wasn’t really religious but I got that bit in my teeth and if you know me then you know time to look out. So I threw her a Hanukkah party. She loved it and we surprised her and I woke up at 4 am and made enough latkes to feed the entire office with seconds.
From that point on every year I started to recognize Hanukkah and last year I began to wonder what would happen if I decided to explore why lighting those candles gave me so much peace more peace than I have ever known. So I bought two books one on Judaism and one on conversion and after reading those books I contacted a Rabbi and every day since that day has been filled with wonder, and excitement and a connection to God that I have never ever had. If I thought lighting a Menorah gave me peace lighting Friday evening Shabbat candles is like lighting a flame inside of me. I have had multiple spiritual moments along the way and I have not completed the process maybe not even be close but every day I feel a little more fulfilled a little more blessed than the day before.
The worst part is that Covid has impacted services so that we do them on Zoom, I meet with the Rabbi on Zoom. I cannot imagine how much more amazing it would be if I could be with so many kindred spirits as one in person. The biggest issue for me is of course sight. The format that was used in services was impossible for me to see. They were working on this though and they moved to a sort of power point style with the colorful backgrounds and larger print and I announced I could see it which excited a lot of people. The Rabbi calls on people to read so this was a big deal but almost as soon as we switched to that format my vision has slipped away as it does and I just have not been able to see it without getting really close which would probably scare people. A few weeks ago though on a Saturday morning the Rabbi called on me to read and I put on my stronger glasses which have not been enough and suddenly it was enough. I can’t tell you how much joy that gave me. When I took my dog to the park this story started coming fast and furious in my head. I have long wanted to write a story with a character who is blind and suddenly I had it. Now we have also been in the month of Elul which is the month before Rosh Ha-Shanah and then just 10 days to Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement. The month of Elul is spent reflecting on your past year your screw ups your good moments and your worst moments but for me having never gone through naturally I think of my entire life. So I wrestle daily with this idea of laying myself bare to God and the horrible things I have done. I am not an evil person but I have done some bad things at least to me they are bad, mostly having to do with relationships. Let’s just say its been a rough month like scouring your soul clean. I talked to the Rabbi about some of these things but really this is between me and God but just re-telling how that reading made me feel made him smile and he said its powerful stuff. So my character is Jewish and because of all the reflection a lot of the story is personal wrapped up in a fictional tale.
So this week I have been preparing for Rosh Ha-Shanah. I have posted a couple of times the shofar blowing. Just hearing it gives me goosebumps and that’s from youtube. I also outlined this story which is going to be in six parts. I don’t think it will be a super long book. I am going to tell the story and let it fly but I have gone old school because I don’t usually write to an outline but this time I am. I started writing part one this week. Its slow going but it feels good and the writing is what I want. One thing Judaism has really instilled in me is honoring my parents. I have let go of a lof of guilt around my mom’s death and on Yom Kippur it will be good to go through a Yizkor service and light a Yarzheit candle for her. I have one ready to light. I have also I think grown closer to my dad. I talk to him a lot more often and I am not letting our differences get in the way of just enjoying hearing his voice. He had made me laugh a lot lately. Early in the week my dad sent me steaks from Omaha. It was so nice of him. Now I can’t talk to him about any of this because he isn’t going to understand and he is going to be horribly upset. In fact I have no family support for what I am doing. I am doing this all alone.
A few days ago a friend of mine who helps me from time to time and checks on me and I were texting and she asked if we could talk on the phone. I said sure. We didn’t really even talk she asked me right off the bat why Judaism. So I started to answer and before I could even get a sentence out she interrupted me and said you want to know what my belief is. I said you asked me a question that you won’t listen to my answer. She said we would get back to it. She then proceeded to tell me that everyone needs to have a personal relationship with God. I said I didn’t disagree with the statement and then started to explain why Judaism is working for me and she interrupts and says you told me a long time ago and then tells me what I told her ten years ago which wqs everyone can believe or not believe in God and having a relationship with God was important. Then she goes off on a preaching rant where she keeps saying YOU Need to find the religion that works best for you. I said I had and then she goes off again and said there were many religions out there and I needed again using that YOU need to find the one that works for me. So now I was bordering on a little anger and I forcefully interrupted her and said that I was not a stupid person I was aware of other religions and that Judaism is what worked for me. Then she told me she just didn’t want me to blow something up, that she loved her country too much to see me especially me blowing things up. She meant this as physically making bombs. I asked her who the hell she was talking to and when had I ever threatened to do anything like that and how did Judaism connect. She didn’t answer just said goodnight and then sent me a text message saying it wasn’t her best night. Its hard to even call the comments Anti-Semitic. Maybe it was me posting the shofar being blown that confused her. Clearly she thinks that being Jewish is some radical religion, maybe she confuses it with radical Islam but it will still be wrong to lump all of Islam with outright terrorism. Later I talked to my friend Wayne who put in perspective to not let it bother me and laugh it off but still. I told you it was weird. Now I also had my dear friend Genia add my fruit request to her grocery list and my friend Scott her husband dropped it by which was incredibly kind of both of them. Then more weirdness this morning Rosco my dog and I got up pretty early so we made some coffee. He likes his strong. We walked to the trash bin and threw some boxes away and then he did his business and I cleaned it up and we start walking around the neighborhood. I call it the quick loop. We get to the street and this guy runs out of his gate, with a gun waving. Thankfully he recognized me but it made me a little nervous. Turns out he had caught someone under his truck with a cordless saw I guess trying to maybe to steal the Cadillac converter and had chased him away. He asked if I had seen anyone and I said no. We chatted a few minutes and then Rosco and I finished our walk in a hurry.
I told you it was a weird week.