Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

Happy New Year

on September 13, 2015

The new year starts tonight, and I couldn’t be more excited! I am welcoming this new year as a Jew for the first time. It feels absolutely stunningly wonderful.

My simple resolution: to be joyful. I resolve to be messier, haphazard, abundant, and beautiful loving proud HAPPY.

To let my feet dangle off the edges of oblivion and proclaim


This is me.

Jews are pretty good at hospitality, if I say so myself. I think it’s in our nature. I can think of no better example than the welcome I had at camp this summer.

On July 12th, I casually mentioned to a close friend of mine, an Israeli and fellow staff member, that yesterday was my Jewniversary. She looks at me.

“Your what?”

“My Jewniversary. It’s been exactly one month since I converted to Judaism.”

“You’re WHAT??!”

So that prompted my long explanation and her presentation of two slices of cake at lunch. She got the entire table to sing with her in loud, racuous voices, “Siman tov and mazel tov AND SIMAN TOV” until they finally paused to catch their breaths and gasp, “Why are we singing?”

Lea shouted, “It’s Jenn’s Jewniversary!!!”

They glanced at me with shining eyes and gathered lungfuls of fresh air and began the chorus anew- SIMAN TOV AND MAZEL TOV.

When the singing subsided, they asked more seriously, “Why are we singing?” and I shared my story to an incredibly captivated audience. This prompted my Rosh (boss) to organize a party, which I insisted that I didn’t need.

Nevertheless, after a Shabbat dinner in August, I was led into a room filled with rabbis, friends, colleagues, bunk mates, and people who had somehow come to know and love me within the past two months. Before anyone could say anything, the cantor led the entire group in a song. Avinu Shaaaaalom Aleichem… The first sweet notes of welcome were not spoken but sung, and I couldn’t help but think how fitting.

A few people spoke warmly and passionately about my journey. I received the most precious gifts that night- kind words, hugs, silly anecdotes, and even an acorn from Israel to plant at my own home someday. I fought back the tears that I felt at all of this sudden warmth and love and affection. Then we cut the cake, and a friend of mine shoved piece after piece into my hands, faking a German accident and harkening back to the bubbes we all know and love, “Eat, eat, put some meat on your bones, have another, my darling…” We dissolved into laughter as everyone circled me to offer their warm wishes and congratulations.

So tonight, I welcome the year 5776 in the same way- with laughter and singing, good food and family warmth, emotion and nostalgia. It’s now just past my three month Jewniversary- I look forward to many more in the year to come.

Shanah Tova! May your coming year be a sweet one.


2 responses to “Happy New Year

  1. zebracourage says:

    I am so glad I found your blog. I hope you have a sweet year!

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