Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

Where Am I Coming From?

on September 24, 2014

When I think back on Rosh Hashanah last year, the rabbi’s sermon comes to mind. He focused on the questions “Where are we coming from?” and “Where are we going?” Every time Rosh Hashanah rolls around, these are good questions to ask ourselves. A year ago, I was celebrating the high holidays for the first time. I was a college sophomore taking my first music classes. I was a young woman who essentially had no idea what she was doing. And I still am, so that’s a good thing, right? Gotta be consistent.

Luckily, I kept a journal on my experience last year, and I am so glad I did. I like having that reminder of where I am coming from. I can open to a page and see exactly where I was a year ago. Normally, I don’t share my journal entries online. It would be a frightening experience for everyone. But just this once, I’ll tell you openly and unabashedly what was going through my mind last year. No editing either. Just you, me, and my past self. Don’t judge her too harshly. After all, present self is baring her soul to you right now…

 

9/4/13 Erev Rosh Hashanah: Right now, I am grateful, renewed, and refreshed. Ready to start out the new year right. Above all, tonight leaves me with a feeling of peace. Peace within my community, peace in the safety of G-d’s arms, peace within the rhythm of the Hebrew prayers, peace between every person, every smile, every shana tova. 

9/5/13 Morning before shul: G-d, you are everywhere. You fill everything. It’s so easy for me to get distracted with the cares and worries of the world. But when I sit with you and put my fears to the side, you put your arm around me like a best friend. I’m just happy to sit here quietly with you. This morning, nature was my shul. There, in the sun dappled shade beneath a dancing tree, I was happy to live. To be. To breathe huge lungfuls of fresh morning air. Nature oozed beauty out of every pore, and I felt G-d’s smile on a world and woman reborn. 

9/5/13 Afternoon: Then, shul itself. A musty red book filled with page after page of dark hebrew letters. A room full of chairs that filled as the day went on. A lot of chanting, standing, and sitting. Most times, I had trouble keeping up. I felt a little out of place and lost. It helped to not focus on the individual words and just get lost in the booming voice of the hazan. Later, the rabbi and cantor brought the Torah into the congregation. I stretched out my worn prayerbook to its golden plate, then brought the cover back to my lips. That was one of my favorite moments.

9/5/13 Night: Tonight was beyond beautiful. Abby and I went to a friend’s house to join her family for dinner. I have never met a more loving funny, kind, Jewish family in my whole life. I immediately felt like a part of their family the way they welcomed me to their table. The food was so good. Homemade, warm challah, matzoh ball soup, fish, chicken, brisket, apple pie… Everything was delicious. Her entire family was just so warm and welcoming. I hope more than anything my future family will be like that some day. Out of everything I’ve experienced this holiday, a meal with these 14 people has by far been the best. So much warmth in their eyes. I couldn’t get enough. G-d, I am so blessed. Thank you. Thank you so much.

9/6/13 Afternoon: Returning to shul was like returning home.Already, it felt less strange, and I felt more comfortable with the people and the prayers. Listened to Torah, prayed, kissed book/Torah, and then left. My life is starting to feel like the cycle Jay talked about yesterday, “I go to shul, come home and eat, go to sleep, get up and go to shul, eat, sleep, and then do it all over again.” It’s such a natural, peaceful life. I can’t believe the holiday is over and my life resumes tomorrow. I feel like a richer, fuller person after two days of renewal.

My heart, soul, and being are content.

 

It’s easy to see where I’m coming from. It’s a good place. Where I am going… That’s a little bit harder to answer. I plan on going in a direction that allows me to continue to grow as a Jew, as a young adult, and as a scholar. I think I’m on the right track. Here’s hoping.

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One response to “Where Am I Coming From?

  1. Adam says:

    I don’t know if the answer needs to be absolute (a set of steps to check off) so much as intentional (I intend to get better at X, Y and Z this year). Adonai does not demand perfection. He just demands improvement.

    Shanah Tovah!

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