Hanukkah

By now many of you know that I am in the process of converting to Judaism. Its actually been a journey of years. I am not Jewish at least yet. I am a conversion candidate, but I have every hope, desire, dream that one day I will be a Jew. Judaism is the only belief system that has ever made any sense to me and it began with a Hanukkah party for a co-worker a long time ago. Since that time, I have dabbled and for the past several years I have had both a Menorah and a Christmas tree even though Christmas never meant that much to me. I always loved the lights.

Last year I had no tree, only a Menorah. I began to be filled with wonder as I had the last few years why lighting those candles in that specific order and saying such a simple blessing would give me such a stunning sense of peace. As Hanukkah continued, I made the decision that it was time to figure out why. I bought two books, one on Judaism and one terrific book on conversion because I wanted to understand Judaism and also to understand what would happen in the conversion process which is a long process and worth every second.  I also had a powerful conversation with a trusted friend over lunch and a few beers and he asked me a lot of questions all of which I had already asked myself. He didn’t judge me. It was one of the most powerful and supportive conversations I had ever had.

I found a rabbi, and a Reform Synagogue close to me and I reached out and that has been the best decision I have ever made.  I try not to get too excited, try to keep it all in perspective even though my nature is to go full bore as fast as I can. I have laughed a lot. I have cried a lot. I have faced personal demons. I have had an amazing conversation with my father. I have also faced Anti-Semitism from an unlikely source, but I knew eventually I would.

Now Hanukkah approaches again and I have been reflecting on what is really a minor holiday. I still am looking forward to lighting those candles and to say those beautiful blessings, this time in Hebrew. Oddly enough I am also really aware of Christmas. I don’t miss it, that’s not it but this time around its pretty different. I am sure next year it won’t be. I don’t really know how to manage some things. A friend asked in a group text what the 5 best Christmas songs were and the 5 worst and I stumbled. Of course, I don’t really know a lot of Christmas songs anyway but it was just whether I should answer or not. Seems silly right? It is silly as all of the friends on that text message know that I am converting and those friends are as special to me as anything in the world. That’s really how its been for me as the days creep along. Hanukkah will be over by the time Christmas comes along. Someone is going to say to me Merry Christmas. So I reflect on all of this and I wait for those candles to be lit. For the record lighting Shabbat candles does this same thing only it’s a wonderful combination of pure joy and peace.

So whatever holiday you are celebrating that’s what I wish.

Peace, Health, Love, Understanding

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