Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

Different Hats

on November 3, 2014

It’s getting cold outside, and that means sweaters and hot chocolate and HATS. I’m really in love with and especially particular about my hats. They have to fit just so. And if it doesn’t frame my face just right, I won’t buy it. Please don’t ever try and buy one for me. I own a grand total of 5 hats, and no, you can not try them on. MINE.

I’ve considered wearing a lot of hats throughout the years. The jobs I’ve thought about settling on my head are as varied as any hat fanatic’s collection. Astronaut. English teacher. Lawyer. Scientist. Violist in a Broadway orchestra. Nature center worker. Cantor. When I finally get to try one on, I’ll know for sure if I’ve found the perfect match or not.

There are also a lot of different “Jewish” hats out there: types of Judaism that people practice, the main ones being reform, conservative, and orthodox. I’d argue each Jew wears a hat unique to himself, an interesting blend of upbringing, family history, and synagogue influence. Someone asked me today how I decided I wanted to convert to conservative Judaism. Different hats. It has to fit just right, I tell them. It’s a lifestyle, a culture, and a community. While I quite enjoy attending the services at reform temples and meeting Jewish people from all backgrounds, I settle most comfortably into the conservative mold. It frames my soul just right. The melodies of the prayers, the feeling of being bound to the law, the traditional community… It all makes a lot of sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried on the reform and orthodox hats as well. Even the reconstructionist hat with its colorful wool edges and bouncing pom pom took a trial run atop my head for a weekend. And I don’t dislike the spiritual reflection I see in the mirror as I try each one. I stand there scrutinizing my soul, striking different poses, looking at each hat from different angles. I’m just happy to have found one that fits better than all the rest. And who knows? I’ll probably be making some alterations as I go.

This past month, I’ve been trying to get my life under control. As a writing tutor, office assistant, musical director, and undergraduate student, I’ve been juggling a lot of hats. I’m so bundled that you can barely see my face. You’ll catch a glimpse of my conservative kippah under all those hats, if you look closely.

So, I tip my hat(s) to you and wish you all a lovely day. It’s good to be back.


2 responses to “Different Hats

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