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Rated: 13+ · Book · Cultural · #2299971
My journal about my conversion to Judaism.
I started writing my conversion story in June 2023, even though it started before then. It will not be in chronological order as I remember things from the past that brought me to this point in my life. My decision to convert was not an easy one. I grew up pentecostal. I watched my grandma speak in tongues. My aunt played keyboard in the church band. I used to attend church (a member of a Baptist church for many years) 3 to 4 times a week. I did not start my journey of healing after my divorce and expect to end up here. However, my desire and work to grow closer to G-d has left me no doubt or question about where I am now. I have no hesitation in my conversion to Judaism. This is my story of leaving Christianity and becoming a part of a people that I will be able to, one day, proudly say that I am also. A Jew.
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April 12, 2024 at 6:56pm
April 12, 2024 at 6:56pm
#1068624
Shabbat begins soon and instead of preparing - which I need to - I am looking at job postings and submitting applications again. I had to stop though before I became frustrated or depressed.

It's hard at work when my boss and others are asking if I am leaving next year or staying. All I can say is that I don't know. I know my boss doesn't want me to move, and students and coworkers don't want me to move. Not being able to give a definitive answer is difficult. I need to move for my conversion (which is not shared knowledge at work), but certain things have to happen before I can say that I am moving.

I can't move until I have a job because I can't pay rent until I have an income. I can't even get a place to rent until I have income in the area. So the very first step is getting a job and I seem to be an utter failure at securing a job in the area I need to move.

What's bothering me besides not securing a job position is that I am going to have to say if I am staying in my apartment for another year or not very soon. Once I commit to staying, it will be even more expensive to move and break the lease.

I'm trying not be down or frustrated. It has been a long week, and I want to go to bed, but I can't until I light my Shabbat candles. I baked challah for tonight, but I'm so tired that I don't even want to make dinner, make kiddush, or do anything tonight except sleep. However, I know once I light the candles and usher in the Shabbat Queen, all of that will change and I will be my normal happy self and feeling blessed.

Time to let go and let G-d.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
April 10, 2024 at 10:13pm
April 10, 2024 at 10:13pm
#1068479
Some vocabulary in this entry (if needed):
Pesach: The eight days of the Jewish Passover, not to be confused with Easter or the one night of Passover in the Christian religion.
chametz: the five grains raw - wheat, oats, rye, barley, and spelt - or anything made from them that has come into contact with water and become "leavened."
traif: not kosher

As Pesach approaches, I think more about what my kosher kitchen will look like. At least in my mind. My youngest daughter, A2, moved back home (thankfully), which makes me think more about how I will navigate my two worlds. I will need meat and dairy dishes, but I also need traif dishes for my children to use. They do not separate meat and dairy, and I can't expect them to follow everything with Judaism like me. I also think about dishes and how I can keep a functional kosher kitchen with non-kosher living companions (including the cat).

Not only are pans and dishes on my mind, but food itself. While every Jewish woman is searching for chametz in their home to burn it or sell it, I'm wondering how I can manage a kitchen and household where different rules and expectations apply to the people who live there. How is it possible? How can I clean for Pesach when half of the house is not in need of following that law? What do I get rid of since we eat some things together? What exactly should be considered as "hers" and what is considered as "mine?" I have to feed her, and she is not required to eat matzah during this time. How is that going to work?

Again, all of this is questions for the future because I do not have a kosher kitchen at the present time. Anything I do now would be for building habits. I am determined to learn as much as I can this Pesach. I know that a year ago, I was just learning about the basics of what Pesach was and had very little understanding of Jewish beliefs and traditions. Well, at least compared to now.

I'm trying to remember that I am not stuck. I am right where Hashem wants me to be and when that changes is up to him. I am still planning for the future and giving Hashem as many vessels as it takes to get me to where he wants me to be and to show him that I trust him and believe that he wants what is best for me in my life.

I look forward to the day that I am no longer straddling two different worlds, but instead be a part of my new world and bring that world to my old world and say, "I know who I used to be, but this is who I am now." Though the day is not today, I know that I have passed surface level and am digging deeper into the details.. When details are studied with purpose, those beliefs become part of your life and your identity. I am not stuck. I am making vessels in the core of my being for Hashem to fill and I know that he is filling them.

Thank you Hashem for loving me.
April 8, 2024 at 8:34pm
April 8, 2024 at 8:34pm
#1068101
Today was the solar eclipse. I heard a lot of Jewish wisdom about the eclipse. Including a video that a friend sent me about the eclipse. In a solar eclipse, the moon crosses in front of the sun. The sun shines by day and the moon by night. The night is associated with romance. Sometimes when things are at their darkest during the day, a little bit of love can help us get through. Things have been very difficult recently all around the world. One way for Hashem to show us that he is still here and that everything will be all right is by giving us a little bit more love. Therefore, when the moon covered the sun, all the bad things that are happening all around the world, just for a moment, was covered under the vail of G-d's love. We don't always need to hear someone tell us that they love us, we need to see it through their actions, including a hug. The eclipse is one way for Hashem to tell us, "I love you, and everything will be okay." Thank you for the extra love today, Hashem. There were a lot of people who needed it today.
March 30, 2024 at 10:06pm
March 30, 2024 at 10:06pm
#1067205
Spring break is almost over, and I go back to work on Monday. April Fool's Day. I think back to where I was one year ago today. What was I doing ending my spring break last year. A lot has changed in a year. I have changed a lot in a year. I don't ever want to go back.

This path that Hashem has asked me to walk is not easy, but my life has never been easy. Why would I expect this to be any different? However, the truth is that it has been different. With all my hardships that I have faced in my life, I never in a million years would have thought that I greatest heartbreak is not praying in synagogue on Shabbat. I feel blessed beyond belief that with all my struggles in life, even those that are current, this is my biggest heartbreak.

I didn't make it to the synagogue today. My break light came on again as I was pulling out onto the road. G-d already used the event from earlier this week to let me know that my break lines were fine and my breaks were fine. I know it is just air in the break line and it will be fixed with just a little bit of break fluid, but I'll be honest. I'm a girl. A real girl that believes there are men on this earth for a reason. Fixing cars for girls is one of those reasons. At least for me, it is. A kind voice on the other end of the phone talked me out of stressing and reminded me not to worry or to give up. I thank him for that. It's great to be blessed with people in my life with such good hearts.

I will make it back to synagogue next week, or the next, or the next. I don't know why G-d does what he does, but I trust in G-d's timing. Who knows what could have happened on the road in the rain as people head home from spring break. Air in my break lines may have saved my life. Who knows.

I had plenty of leftovers from dinner last night, so I didn't go hungry today even though I couldn't cook. I had a challah in the freezer that I had taken out and used last night, so I was able to eat a bit more of that today, though I didn't do kiddush today.

I'm sorry for those that were expecting me and I wasn't there. I will see you soon. G-d willing.

I watched videos today to break Shabbat since I couldn't drive. Never have there been so many Jewish videos on my feed. One in particular was certainly meant for me. It was a Rabbi who answered a question, "Can a Jew be reincarnated as a non-Jew?" I already knew the answer to the question, but it was nice to hear it again, especially now. His answer was yes. A convert who goes through the proper conversion, i.e. a convert who converts, is a person who was born with a Jewish soul. He didn't get into the reasons why a person would be born with a Jewish soul and need to go through the conversion process. What is the point? What kind of person was I that I needed to go through everything that I have gone through just to worship G-d the way he wants me to? What is it that I need to learn that I haven't yet that is making this conversion so hard or forcing me to wait?

All I know is that I love you Hashem with all that I am.

https://youtu.be/yHF1RbbfB5U?si=2v6X6N1H05NqvRfY

Shavua tov everyone.


March 28, 2024 at 4:21pm
March 28, 2024 at 4:21pm
#1067095
Let me tell you a story of how Hashem answers the prayers of someone who is unable to take hints and needs obvious and blunt answers. This is a true story.

I have been extremely discouraged and life has seemed to big for me lately. As life has been throwing me curve balls, I have wondered why Hashem would have me go through all of this and then as my first year of studying is near it's end, he leaves me here. I started this with Hashem's leading and prodding. I have taken every step regardless of my level of understanding of where he is leading if I had any understanding at all. But I've done this will full faith in him that he wants this for my life. Lately, I have wondered if this was it. Am I at the end? Do I need to step back and take a break or continue at all? What has made me feel this way?

Why was I wondering if Hashem wanted me to give up on conversion? It certainly is not the community that I have been visiting. Purim was just another example of how wonderful those people are. I had no idea what to expect for the holiday and there was not a single second that I felt lost because there was always someone there to explain what was happening and what was going to happen next. The amount of Purim gifts that I received was surprising since I don't live there, but they were delivered to the house that I was staying. They are so welcoming and loving and amazing.

Even with all the learning that I have been doing with the community, with the Rabbis, with The Ark Online, with my Torah classes, with my Hebrew classes, and with my prayers, I have been feeling stuck. I can't continue my conversion without moving to the community. I can't move to the community without a place to live. I can't get a place to live without a job in the area. I've been working to create my vessels for Hashem to use to fulfill the needs I have, but it hasn't happened. So I've felt stuck, and I've wondered if I am needing to be patient for Hashem's perfect blessing, or if I should even continue trying.

I have worried. I have cried. I have prayed. It is always when I give in to Hashem's will and resign to accept his will regardless of his decision that my prayers are answered. If I don't willingly do it on my own, Hashem will put me in the situation to for me to have no choice but to do just that, resign to accept his will regardless of his decision.

The conclusion to the story starts during the Purim dinner Sunday night. I thought it was just a fun dinner with great friends, funny costumes, and great memories. I, and everyone at my table, wrote a letter to the IDF soldiers with markers. There was a spot that said, "The mitzvah I will do.." and gave space to write something. I wanted to give to a Jewish charity with the soldiers in mind.

It is not a secret that previous abuse has caused me to be very mistrustful of men. Because of this, there is no place that leaves me feeling more vulnerable then a place that involves cars. As I sat in a Target parking lot in strange city with my daughter in the car and a red break light glaring at me, I cried. All I could do was think about the possible outcomes.

1 - it would be nothing and I would continue with my trip to my daughter's (A1) like nothing had changed.
2 - it would cost a lot and I would not be able to give much charity or continue to go to synagogue for a while because I would have to figure out to pay off my newly maxed out credit card balance with an empty bank account.
3 - I would have to get a new car and not be able to continue my conversion because I would have to put all my extra money used for gas into a new car payment.

So I cried in the bathroom where my daughter wouldn't see and avoided her gaze. It was an hour before my appointment, so I walked around Target half looking at things. I had a notification come across my Facebook page to follow a page of someone's whose post I had liked. Emotionally tired, I sat in the cafe scrolling through the stranger's page. I immediately saw the post I had liked. It was children's book of Esther that I had seen and had thought of buying. As I scrolled through their page, I didn't know why that one post would have come across my feed. I was not friends with this person and had never seen any other post by this person. There were a couple good posts about Torah and a couple questionable posts, but then there was a post for a fundraiser for his son to attend a camp that he had attended the previous year. I looked at it briefly and headed to the garage that was going to decide my future.

As I sat there in the garage, in this foreign city, with men all around me, I watched my car go up and down multiple times. I heard the tools that used to work on my car. I scrolled through Facebook, talked to the old men sitting in the waiting room, and looked again at the fundraiser for that boy. When the nice old guy left, I stared out the window talking to Hashem. There was nothing I could do. So I said, My life is in your hands Hashem. I have resigned to give you everything because everything is yours. I am here because I am following your will. If you want my conversion to continue, you will make a way. If you let these men take advantage of me, whatever I have left from a payment of $100 on my credit card bill from this repair, I will give to the boy for camp, and stay home from synagogue for a while. If I have to get a new car, I will stop my conversion and know you want me to go a different way. I will not be angry at you regardless of what you choose, though you know I will miss the community greatly. Like always before Hashem answers my prayer and tells me what to do, I was at peace with his decision. I would either give up conversion and worship G-d a different way, or not give up conversion and continue to worship him this way.

As they finished working on my car, I tested my daughter's Spanish skills with posts from Yaakov Medina that always inspire me. The guy behind the counter said that they were putting everything back together and that I needed to make sure I checked the front breaks. He tried to explain something else to me, and I was honest that I had no idea what he was saying. Finally, they took my van for a test drive. The guy came in and gave the guy behind the counter the keys to my van and sat down and started typing at the computer. I collected my keys and waited for my fate with my wallet in my hand. These men had no idea what their decision would mean for my life. Then he lied. I know he lied. My daughter knows he lied. He said that they only put break fluid in and that I didn't have to pay anything. Let me repeat that. I didn't have to pay anything. Nothing. Not a cent. I paid nothing. I said that I would leave a good review and quickly left before I started crying again.

We never know how our lives and decisions impact others. Their decision no matter what they decided was going to be the answer to my prayer. I did not expect such a blatant answer of, "No, don't give up." Message received, G-d. I will not give up. I will understand that I am not stuck, and that I am just waiting for your perfect timing.

The gave the boy the full $100.

I have done everything I can to keep this blog anonymous, as well as anyone mentioned in the blog. If you would like to donate to the same cause, the link to the donation page is below. Again, I do not know the family that posted the fundraiser or any family that is receiving funds. I gave to the Yess family.

If you are ever in the area, the link to the business that blessed me is also below. Again, I do not live there, my daughter does not live there, and I know no one who does live in that town. However, my breaks do work great, so they are good at what they do. Even if I had paid, I would still recommend them.

Thank you Hashem for loving me. I love you with all that I am.

https://www.aamufflerandbrakes.com/

https://givebutter.com/pioneers2024?fbclid=IwAR3dJdUWYJkbnjeYhscn7OGg03M7x77erzY...

https://youtu.be/ROKrM6K1_w4

March 21, 2024 at 7:24pm
March 21, 2024 at 7:24pm
#1066693
Today is the Fast of Esther. The fast is done the day before Purim except when Purim is on a Sunday (like this year) and then it is on the Thursday before (so as not to interfere with Shabbat). Tomorrow I will be trying to leave before the snow hits and make it down state to a friend's house from the community, where I am going to spend the entire weekend to be able to attend all events for Purim. I am very excited about Purim for many reasons.

Reason 1: It sounds like a lot of fun!
Reason 2: This is the last holiday that I studied alone before studying with Chabad Academy and my American Rabbi.
Reason 3: This is the holiday that made be really begin to question Christianity.

I remember talking with my pastor after church one day about the book of Ester that I was studying. I asked why we don't celebrate it when the book clearly says that it will be celebrated forever. He said that we would celebrate it in the world to come. I did not accept that answer as a good reason. Why wouldn't we do it now? There was nothing in the bible that says to stop celebrating the holiday of Purim. I have always wanted to know what it was like to celebrate the holiday, and I finally get my chance!

March 12, 2024 at 7:44pm
March 12, 2024 at 7:44pm
#1066183
My current questions:

1. What does it mean when we pray "grant us our portion in your Torah?"

2. What should I expect for Purim?

3. Food as gifts for Purim? Can I even do that? If I can, how do I and to whom do I give that to?
March 10, 2024 at 10:15pm
March 10, 2024 at 10:15pm
#1066028
****Disclaimer***** This post does not have anything to do with anyone in my shul or anyone that whomever is reading this would probably know.

"And you call yourself a Jew!"

Why then did these words hurt so much and cause me to question everything that I am? The words cut deep, because I know I can't call myself a Jew. I'm not one. If anyone asks what my faith is, sometimes I say Jewish, because it's easier to than a long explanation. If someone makes a comment about me being a Jew, I correct them and tell them that I am converting. If someone asks if I'm Jewish, I say no. I'm nothing.

I feel as though I am at a standstill. There is no moving forward until I move to the community. I know this. I understand this. However, after hearing the remark that most likely was made as a joke, I understand why people take a break from conversion. It is a very discouraging process. I understand the reasoning behind it, but it is hard.

I know I can't go back. I can never go back, but I can't go forwards at the moment either. Hence, a standstill.

My mind wonders if it even matters that I can't go forward yet. I'm not being asked to stop practicing Judaism. I'm still able to pray. I'm still able to attend The Ark online learning program with the Rabbi who Sparkles. I'm still able to attend Chabad classes with the Rabbi who glows, the Rabbi who is adorable, and the American Rabbi. I'm still able to pray every day in the morning, afternoon, and evening. I'm still able to observe most of Shabbat. I'm still able to attend shul. I'm still able to attend women's events. I'm still able to read Tehillim by myself and with others. I'm still able to learn and grow. So does it matter that I'm at a standstill?

No, and yes.

No, because I understand the process, and waiting and practicing is part of the process. I am still able to practice and learn and grow. I learn more every week, and it has not stopped. I have grown in my faith and that has not stopped. I know that this is what G-d wants for my life that it will happen in his time. So, no, it doesn't matter. I'm where I'm supposed to be.

Yes, it does matter. Who am I? What am I? What do I call myself and my faith? Where do I belong?

With these questions running through my mind and the pressure from family and friends to not convert, I am struggling. Though I still plan to convert, because I can't at the present moment, should I take a break from even thinking about it? Should I stop making this my focus in life and just practice for a while?

There is no doubt that Saturdays are my favorite day of the week. It's an entire day focused on G-d and prayer. After going to shul yesterday, I thanked G-d, like I always do and always will, that I was able to have another Shabbat day, to attend shul, to pray, to learn, and grow closer to him. Is there anything better in life?

"And you call yourself a Jew!"

I don't think I can call myself anything except confused.



February 19, 2024 at 12:20am
February 19, 2024 at 12:20am
#1064425
I went to shul for the first time in three weeks. All I can say is that it was pure joy. I missed my friends and my community. They seemed to miss me too. There's just something about praying in the synagogue that fills a part of my soul with joy. The people sometimes fade away and all I see is the prayer in front of me and hear the cantor chanting and the hums of the men behind the wall. Then, for a moment, it is just me and G-d. Then all the other people come back into view and I feel at home in my spirit and in my body. There is no place I would rather be on Shabbat than in shul.

The Rabbi who glows gave the message. I always had though that the part of the Torah (when I had read it previously) about the specifics of the building of the temple was boring. I didn't understand all of the details and had no one who could explain it in a way that I understood. I never understood what I was supposed to learn or apply to my own life when I read about the specs. I know that I keep saying that I love Judaism, but I do even more with each day that passes. There were so many things that I learned from a passage that I once thought was mundane and didn't apply to me. I, of course, was wrong.

The windows of the inner sanctuary were backwards. They were not made for the light to reflect inward, but rather the light was to reflect outward. Because the Jewish people are to be a light to the world, the windows were made so that the light could shine outward to the world. We know that the temple was destroyed by the Romans. The lessons of the temple still apply today. We are to shine the light of G-d out to the world.

He talked about the three pillars of Judaism (Torah, prayer, and tzedakah). As long as the three pillars of Judaism were present, G-d promised to dwell in "those places". We know that the temple was destroyed, but if the synagogue still has the three pillars. Not only should the synagogue have the pillars, but every room in our homes should as well and G-d will dwell in our homes and our light can shine out of our homes to the world. He, of course, said it so much better.

I ended my Shabbat at my dad's house. I was drilled about my beliefs, but I think for the first time, I was confident in answering every question he threw at me and countered his snide remarks with facts that he could not argue with. He drilled me with questions and my aunt drilled me with questions. I don't think the day will come that I don't get questioned, but I am getting more confident in answering the questions and standing up for my beliefs when challenged.

Thank you Hashem for this entire weekend.


February 15, 2024 at 10:37pm
February 15, 2024 at 10:37pm
#1064252
Today was a snow day at work, so I had the entire day to spend however I pleased. I spent the day studying Torah. I attended a couple of classes with the Rabbi who glows, a Tanya class with Rabbi F from Canada who is associated with the JLI (Jewish Learning Institute), and watched many videos with Rabbi P-T.

I joined The Ark program that is based in Florida. Rabbi P-T teaches a Torah class every day. The Ark is a program that discusses Torah and Jewish wisdom. It is a surprisingly well presented program for only $18 a month. Over a year ago, what I have learned so far would have been all new thought. I love the way the Rabbi explains things that I already know, so I don't feel like like any time spent watching the videos is wasted time. Most of the videos are between 20 and 40 minutes. The first unit was on describing G-d. I am on the second unit which talks about man and his purpose. There are a total of 97 units with the largest unit (Unit 2) having 18 videos and the shortest unit having 1 video (unit 97 which I am sure he is still creating the videos for). I can be busy for a very long time and have no worries about running out of Torah to study. I love Jewish wisdom and this program is an endless supply.

I love Torah learning. I need days like today to focus on Torah and grow my own relationship with the creator so I can spread the joy, light, and love that I try to give every day to my students and friends.

Thank you Hashem for the time to learn about you and grow closer to you.



February 12, 2024 at 9:39pm
February 12, 2024 at 9:39pm
#1064088
Today is a day of answered prayers. Yes, plural. Thank you G-d for hearing my prayers and answering them.
February 11, 2024 at 9:47pm
February 11, 2024 at 9:47pm
#1064035
I was home for another Shabbat. I spent a lot of time reading. I seem to have an endless supply of books to read and less and less time to read them. I kept my phone off and upstairs easily not even thinking about it. I've gotten into a routine for Shabbat and the day seemed to fly by. I had a good nap. One so good that I was able to wake up and attend a Chabad class this morning. I'm very thankful for the rest and still having the ability to learn and pray. However, I really miss going to Shul. I do not enjoy the three hour drive, but I love attending Shul and praying there, seeing the Torah scrolls, and hearing them read. I don't get that at home alone.

We are now in the month of Adar 1. There are two months of Adar this year, because this is a leap year. Instead of just adding one day, an entire month is added to keep the prayers and holidays lined up with their original seasons as is required by by the Torah. It is supposed to be a month of happiness and success. If you have prayer requests, this is the month to make them. If you go to court for any reason, this is the month that judgement will be in your favor. The month of Adar is a month of happiness and blessings. The more I learn about Judaism, the more I love it.

I also miss attending Tehillim prayer. I learned from The Lubavitcher Rebbe that King David requested of G-d that the recitation of Tehillim be counted as special and count as both a prayer and the study of Torah. When I first started praying the Psalms (Tehillim), I didn't know that it was a normal thing. I just loved the words and the connection with Hashem. As with Judaism, there is an explanation, and it just makes me love it that much more.

Please let me return to the synagogue so I can kiss your Torah and learn your word.
February 6, 2024 at 11:05pm
February 6, 2024 at 11:05pm
#1063672
On Saturday morning as I was reading through the morning service in my living room, I came across a note that I had left in my Siddur. I had previously gone over the meaning and words of the prayer with my prayer tutor L. The words

הרופא לשבורי לב

which is part of a prayer, was written on the paper. The translation of each word was under the words in Hebrew, "The doctor/ fixes broken/ heart." Then the following sentence under that.

Only God can fix a broken heart.


An overwhelming feeling of gratitude flooded me and I broke down crying.

I thank Hashem so often for all that I know he has done for me. I thanked him then and I thank him today for healing parts of me I never thought would heal.

Thank you Hashem.
February 4, 2024 at 3:57pm
February 4, 2024 at 3:57pm
#1063463
This is the second week in a row that I have not been to shul or seen anyone in the community. A few have reached out to me and checked in to see that everything was okay. My weeks are different when I am able to go. Everything is different down the very air I breathe into my lungs and how the world appears before me. Those that have reached out, I let know that I will be back down as soon as G-d allows.

G-d knew that my children would be struggling and need help financially. He knew that I would not hesitate to give all that I have to take care of them, visit them, and support them. So why would he choose now for my car to break down when he knows I cannot do anything about it for a couple of weeks? I can think of many reasons, and I'll go through them below.

1. Perhaps, to answer the question, Would I get angry at G-d and blame him? Surly, G-d could have kept my car going until it was a more convenient time when I wouldn't have struggled with getting it fixed, had to ask for rides to work, and miss so much shul (like spring break). The answer is no. Though I know I would be there if he wanted me there, I also know that everything has a purpose and a lesson.

2. Perhaps, because of a decision. I could have taken a job offered and moved already. Instead, I chose to renew my vow to my students (relinquished at Yom Kipper by the Kol Nideri prayer) and stay until the end of the school year. Every choice we make, whether we make it for ourselves or for others, has consequences.

3. Perhaps, because I didn't think ahead. I could have done better saving money for this time and spent less on things that were only wants (like dresses, skirts, and shoes). I would then have had the money to put into my car (or get a new one) and not had to wait.

4. Perhaps as a lesson. I know I am still working on my patience. There are two important things that I have been waiting for, and amazingly, they have been become intertwined.

5. Perhaps to see what I would do with my time. I have spent months driving downstate to go to shul, and it has helped me grow in my devotion and observance. With a couple of weeks at home, would I revert back to my old ways (It has only been 4 and a half months after all) or would I make a point of staying observant?

What did I do? I kept observance and made a point to do it more mindful than the past 4 and half months. I observed Shabbat. I did not have to be on technology because I did not need Google Maps for driving, so I didn't use my phone on Shabbat. I did not turn on my computer, laptop, tv, or stove on Shabbat. I did not leave home on Shabbat. I prayed on Shabbat at the time that all the other women would have been there and pictured their faces as I prayed. Since I had to break Shabbat (since I am not fully converted yet), how did I break Shabbat? I turned on my closet light (this part was an accident) and turned it back off (on purpose just to break Shabbat). I have been observant for the past two weeks, and I plan to keep observance. I observed what I learned before going to shul and will continue to observe what I have learned since. As I learn more, I will observe more.

6. Perhaps as time to rest and reflect? I admit that Shabbat has been very restful. I have taken naps (a very rare thing for me) and reflected on all that has changed over the past year. I also know that I never want to go back to life before this. I am more thankful each day that passes for the opportunity to grow closer to G-d in observance, spiritually, and with purpose. I never expected this level of spiritual growth and closeness with Hashem.

7. Perhaps because absence makes the heart grow fonder? I had a difficult time eating lunch yesterday. I knew what I was missing. I don't understand how anyone could join a community like that and want to leave it. I watched a movie late last night (after Shabbat had ended and after going to visit a friend) about an ultra orthodox woman that wanted to leave the community and get a divorce. There was so much about why less than 2% decide to leave the community that missed the mark completely. I would not want to be ultra orthodox, and I believe that the ultra orthodox community is missing a great deal of compassion and are also misguided about want makes members want to stay (and the community was wrong on some other aspects as well). The community that I visit has genuine care, compassion, and love for people, even if they are not Jews. That is the reason why when someone leaves, they come back. I miss my friends. I miss the smiling faces of the people whose names that I don't even remember. I miss seeing them care for one another and show love and compassion for one another. I miss the gathering of just plain good people.

Whether this is one of the trials that come with convers that is warned about in every conversion book I read, I don't know. I just know that I still love G-d. I thank him for spending Shabbat with me, for being with me every day, and for listening to my prayers. I want to serve him the way he wants me to serve him, and I know that my desire to convert has not changed. If G-d wants me there next week, my car will either be fixed, or I will have a new car. Either way, I am trusting him and will be in the doors of the shul as soon as he permits.

Nehemiah 8:10 And he said to them, "Go, eat fat foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our Lord, and do not be sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength."

I still had joy on Shabbat and will have joy throughout the week, because even without time in my community, I still have the Lord.

May this week be a blessing to you.
January 30, 2024 at 11:12pm
January 30, 2024 at 11:12pm
#1063207
What do you do on your darkest days?

Friday, I rushed home from work to make it home in time to make dinner and prepare the house for Shabbat. As I got out of my car, I smelled something burning. There was little streams of smoke coming out from under my car like something was dripping onto a hot surface and burning away. That meant I couldn't go to shul on Saturday. My daughter D was staying with me for the week and was going to experience her first Shabbat with me, so I ignored my car, rushed into the house, and prepared for Shabbat.

She had no idea what had just happened. Like a child, she watched my every move. She asked questions to make sure she understood what was happening. She listened when I explained to her what I was going to do, why I was going to do it, and what I needed her to do since she was staying the night. It was a wonderful dinner and a wonderful night.

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 5am. I wanted to go back to sleep, but thoughts of my car and what I was going to miss that day kept running through my head. I cried. I cried because of what I was going to miss that day and who I was going to miss. What I say to Hashem every Saturday before I leave shul for the 3 hour drive home ran through my mind. "As long as I am able to come and worship you here and experience this, I will thank you. Thank you Hashem for every moment of this day." I cried again.

My car will get fixed eventually. I know that. It's just a car. My heart didn't ache for my car. My heart ached for the shul to pray in and the people I pray with. It is my favorite part of every week. At the time I normally leave, I looked out into the darkness. I thought about what I'd be seeing as I drove, how I'd be dreading the 3 hour drive but anxious to get there, because there was no where else I'd rather be. By the light of my bedside lamp, I cried. I watched the sun rise out of my bedroom window and I cried.

When I knew that service would have started, I stopped crying. I laid and stared out the window for a little while. "I need to get up and pray," I thought. "I might not be there with them, but I can still pray with them." As I pictured the shul in my mind and pictured myself there with them, I thanked Hashem. "I'm going to thank you anyway, G-d," I said. "Even if you don't let me go this week, thank you for being able to worship you anyway. Thank you for all of the times that I have gotten to go and will get to go in the future."

I got up and got dressed as if I was going to shul. I did my hair as if I was going to shul. Then, I prayed. As I prayed through the morning service, I pictured what was happening during shul and smiled. I could feel the atmosphere of the shul even though I wasn't there. I could see the smiles of the faces of my friends. I focused on the words of the prayers more than I normally did at shul and stopped to say, "That's beautiful, L-rd," or "You are a great G-d."

I ate a little lunch and a wave of sadness came over me. I laid down and I cried and I slept. I got up to tell my daughter D goodbye and give a little love to her husband T. After they left, I cried again and slept some more.

When I awoke, I got up and read Tehillim. I prepared for Havdalah and almost started when my youngest daughter A2 came home. We talked for some time (with me standing in the kitchen in front of my Havdalah things). With raised spirits, I did Havdalah. A2 and I talked some more as I sat in front of my Tehillim. As my daughter went up to her room, I stared out into the darkness and talked with G-d.

I don't know if you ever sit there and talk to G-d, but I do all the time. Weekday mode of "I NEED TO GET THINGS DONE" closed in on me and my sadness turned into motivation. As I talked, I thought about what I could possibly do about my situation that I haven't already done. I felt a nagging that I already knew the answer. After 25 hours of not creating anything (other than red eyes), I knew I had to create something. So I did. I created a few things. Then I set up an Etsy store to sell them. I stayed up until after 2am Sunday morning working on creating and setting up a store.

I started the day with a saddened spirit and ended it with a new business.

I read a post that said that G-d is ready to give blessings. He only needs a vessel prepared to send them down.

I don't know if my store will ever be anything much. I do know that whatever I am going through, the good moments and the tough ones, that G-d is always there with me, and I'm thankful.

It will be a couple of weeks before I make it back to shul. My heart aches at that thought, but my emunah (faith) is still stronger than it ever has been. Whether I'm shouting from the mountain top or crawling in the valley, I will trust you L-rd and thank you and praise you. Because you are good. Always.

My new store
https://jjsimcha.etsy.com
January 24, 2024 at 11:06pm
January 24, 2024 at 11:06pm
#1062928
I remember learning about the month of Elul this past year - 2023. This is the month of repentance and turning back to G-d. It was during that time in 2022 that I felt the presence of G-d close, so I cried out to him. I asked to know him better, to follow him closer, to know his statutes and decrees (and the difference between the two), and to worship him the way he wanted me to. At the time of my calling on G-d, I knew nothing of Elul. I knew nothing of Rosh Hashanah. I only knew that G-d was closer than I had ever felt him before, and I needed him to tell me what to do next to grow my relationship with him because that is all that I wanted.

This week has reminded me repeatedly of that night and the decision it led to. It has also reminded me of what I said no to so I could travel this path. That daily reminder this week has left me frustrated all week. Though I know my decision was correct, and I don't regret starting my conversion instead, I couldn't shake the nagging reminder of what could have been. I was greatly discouraged until today when I heard a message about this week's Torah portion.

This week's Torah portion is Beshalach. It is the part of the Exodus that the Egyptian army was coming after the Hebrews that they had just let leave. The Hebrews were wanting to pray, go back to Egypt, throw themselves into the water to die by drowning rather than the Egyptians, or fight. The Rabbi Who Glows said that there are times that none of these are appropriate. There is a time to just keep going. You don't need to pray about it, because G-d is already fighting the battle for you. Don't look back to Egypt (or your past). Don't fight what is happening. Don't give up. Keep going.

This is another Rabbi (I don't know him) telling the story. https://youtu.be/BOUmnmTsEZQ?si=DYrQiAZsysRACUwG

I need to stop looking back. I need to stop focusing on my Egypt and my troubles and my fears, and instead, keep going and let G-d part my sea. He put me on this path already (I have no doubts about that because this path is not for everyone), so he will provide. I need to keep going and let him. I need to stop looking back. I need to stop focusing on my obstacles and let G-d make a way when I can't.

January 21, 2024 at 6:00pm
January 21, 2024 at 6:00pm
#1062762
Lashon Hara is negative talk about someone. It includes gossip, which I have been dealing with at work for two years now. I'm sorry to my friend that these rumors are centered around. Why is this significant to my conversion? One word:

Shabbat.

One thing I love about Shabbat is that I don't have to deal with rumors. The ladies (and gentlemen) I get to see every week don't spend Shabbat gossiping. They share inspiring stories, pray together and for one another. They do everything they can to lift one another up and spread joy.

At lunch today we talked about hanging around people that you want to emulate. Though lashon hara was not the topic of conversation (not even close) it still fits. If we want to gossip, we hang around people who gossip. If we want to be happy, we hang around people who make us happy.

I love to pray, to worship G-d, and to do things to make others happy. On Shabbat that is the type of people I get to hand around. People who love to pray. People who worship G-d. People who go out of their way (I've seen many times and feel so blessed to be able to witness this) to make others feel happy.

I am blessed every Shabbat with a story of encouragement, an example of faith in action, warm smiles, and real holiness. While I could go on about how wonderful these people are, I'll instead give examples of new habits that I have formed because of these people opening up their homes, their lives, and their hearts to me.

1. The moment I am conscious in the morning, I thank G-d.
2. I wash my hands when I get up.
3. I use the bathroom and thank G-d for the ability to use the bathroom.
4. I say my morning blessings, the Shema, and the Amidah before starting the day.
5. I pray the Wayfarer's Prayer as I leave town for work and every weekend when I go to shul.
6. I listen to music that blesses, thanks, and praises G-d on my way to work as well as throughout the day (though I did this before all this - just now it is in Hebrew).
7. I say a blessing before eating anything (even a peanut).
8. I say a blessing after eating (even after a snack).
9. If work is stressful, I say Tehillim during lunch. Regardless, I say it every day.
10. I listen to Hebrew videos while grading papers.
11. I pray in the afternoon and evening every chance I get.
12. I give of my time, money, and resources knowing (now) that I am not the only one doing this and it is normal and encouraged.
13. I say Kiddush and Havdalah.
14. I bake Challah (and share it!).
15. I light candles and say a blessing.
16. I drive to shul (though I would rather live there already and not have to drive).
17. I eat kosher and have even separated meat and dairy in my fridge and freezer (though I still don't have a kosher kitchen. How could I?).
18. I say a bedtime prayer (which I have always done).
19. I study - a lot! (not only Hebrew).
20. I study the Tanach with a study group

Though some of this I was already doing, it has been so helpful to see others practice as well.

On Shabbat, I get to focus on what others do, or what they don't do. I get to focus on their traditions and routines, their family bonds, their stories, their humor, their wisdom.

Then I have hours that I get to process what I've seen and heard and talk with G-d about it and about my future or just thank him for allowing me to have those experiences.

This season in my life is very hard. I understand why Judaism is not for everyone and G-d has to want a person converted for it to occur. Conversion is hard. On Shabbat though, it isn't. Nothing (except the six hours of driving and leaving everyone behind when I come home) is hard on Shabbat.

It's only been five months since I have attending shul and less than that since I started becoming part of the community there. Some friends it feels like I have known for years and others, I still don't remember their names.

Every day that I get to go to shul and pray, hear the Torah being read, and hear a message, I thank G-d that I was able to have that experience with him. On days that I don't make it (twice in the past five months), I tell him how much I missed it and how much I wish I could have been there.

Some days the world is cruel and people are cruel. Some days I am exhausted from work. Some days my brain feels like jelly and I am overwhelmed with learning and what I still need to learn. Some days the world is just too much. Then there is Shabbat.

Thank you G-d for Shabbat.




January 14, 2024 at 8:48pm
January 14, 2024 at 8:48pm
#1062399
I was downstate earlier this weekend than normal. For a few minutes, I focused on the mass amounts of traffic, the full parking lots, the ongoing construction (IN JANUARY!), and the millions of stop lights. It became overwhelming for a moment. I missed the trees, the open air and the sounds of animals over cars. I thought, "Is this where you really want me G-d?" The moment that thought came out of my mouth, my thoughts changed to my shul, my observance, the people I've met and have yet to meet, and how much I have already grown closer to G-d in only the past year. I said aloud - thankfully no one could hear me over the traffic and I was just a crazy person walking on the side of the road talking to herself - "I know you do, and I trust you L-rd." And I meant it.

It was one year ago almost to the date that I had started learning Hebrew (on my own at this point) and really diving into what it took to convert and what it meant to be a Jew. I celebrated this lone journey in the most amazing way!

I stopped at the Jewish part of town where all of the Jewish stores are located. I parked by a Jewish bookstore, walked across a couple of parking lots, and went into my first Dunkin Doughnuts. I got a dozen doughnuts for my daughter, her boyfriend, and her roommate. There were two boys in there wearing kippahs. That was the first time outside of my small circle at shul that I have seen anyone wear kippahs. It was an exciting feeling, and the events that followed made that excitement grow.

I walked back across the parking lots and entered the Jewish bookstore. It was a bit cramped for the space, but the moment I walked in, my heart was full of joy. I recognized a lot of the items from homes that I had either eaten lunch or dinner at: the challah covers, the challah boards, the kiddush sets, Shabbat lamps, etc. My next trip is going to be to buy a Shabbat lamp. This time I bought the book set "The Book of Our Heritage: The Jewish Year and Its Days of Significance" by Eliyahu Kitov. It is a 3 volume set that I was able to look through at a friend's house and have wanted since. It was a bit more expensive than if I had bought it online, but I'm sure the bookstore owner's rent is expensive for the area. Though I have heard that Moses spoke for 30 days before his passing, it didn't stick until I opened the book and read it. The book was in excellent condition, but it had obviously been read before, because there were lip prints on it that were not mine. I did wipe them off a bit because it is a weird thought to think that I will be kissing the book that someone else's lips (not knowing whose) touched. The bookstore clerk (owner?) joked that I would be quizzed over Shevat (the month we are currently in) next week. I just laughed and said, "ok."

There was a kosher bakery and pizza place right in the same complex, but I didn't stop at either of them (I had doughnuts!).

Instead, I drove across the street (a very busy one) to the kosher grocery store. It was the first time I had ever walked into a kosher grocery store. I felt very much in the way as people rushed around buying their last minute supplies for the incoming storm and the start of Shabbat. Even though I felt in the way, I felt at home. I wanted to look at everything and tried to take as much time as possible. They had everything you ever wanted to be kosher - like chicken nuggets! I picked up some dry goods and supplies for the weekend since I there was a possibility to getting snowed in (which I was). I left other things I really wanted (like the chicken nuggets) for one of the special perks to look forward to when I moved there (and I really didn't have a place to keep it for the entire weekend or think it would make a three hour trip home so why get addicted now?).

I sat in the parking lot for a few minutes wishing I had a laptop with me and could write right then. I felt so at home instead of feeling out of place, which I expected to feel. I then saw someone from my shul in the parking lot as I was pulling away. I think out of everything, that was the most exciting part of the entire experience. In that huge city with hundreds of cars streaming past and strangers everywhere, I knew someone. Someone nice. Someone I wanted to know. Someone who I have danced with and eaten with and prayed with. She smiled and waved to me (as I did to her), and I pulled out.

The traffic jam followed shortly after the shopping trip as I was driving to my daughter's house. I prayed my car would not overheat in the traffic jam. I turned on my YouTube playlist and began rocking out to Beri Weber, Mordechai Shapiro, and Avraham Fried becoming that crazy lady in the traffic jam that everyone tries not to stare at but wants to know what they are listening to at the same time.

I made it to my daughter's. Got snowed in and missed shul.

One year ago, I sat in this same apartment by myself (my daughter probably here and hiding in her room as a normal teenager) learning the Alef Bet and Googling Jewish words and holidays like crazy not knowing what I was doing or where it would lead. Here I am one year later. I have an amazing Hebrew tutor that has taught me not only the Alef Bet (which I still did not have down months later), but also to speak in Hebrew, have conversations (very short ones at this point) in Hebrew, and read Hebrew (even if I don't know what all the words mean yet)! I have a community that I have become a part of (though I never expected it) and friends I have gained (and love very much because they are the most amazing people). I have a place to pray. I have classes that I get to attend with various Rabbis (American Rabbi, the Rabbi that glows, the main Rabbi, online Rabbis, etc.) for guidance in living an orthodox life as well as growing closer to G-d. I eat kosher and know what that means (Google is not as helpful as real humans). I've learned a small amount of Jewish recipes, follow Jewish cooks, bake challah, make matzah ball soup, and eat meat only on weekends. I pray in the morning, in the afternoon (sometimes), and in the evening. I say a blessing before I eat (which I've always done) and after I eat (though still working on this habit since I get distracted too easy). And I have openly come out as converting (to my friends and family - a few supportive, most not). My email inbox has gone through this transformation with me. I am not the same person I was a year ago, and I never want to go back.

Thank you Hashem for this entire weekend, for the safety in travel, for the firsts I experienced, for the community that has welcomed me, and for changing my life and brining me closer to you. I love you.

January 9, 2024 at 7:17pm
January 9, 2024 at 7:17pm
#1062129
I told my boss today that I applied for other jobs and plan on leaving at the end of the school year. He cried and said that he would need to break the news to the school before the end of the year to give them time to mourn also. My heart is breaking. *Sob*

Hashem, my trust is in you. You're leading. I'm following.
January 8, 2024 at 10:13pm
January 8, 2024 at 10:13pm
#1062089
I hate writing cover letters. I hate filling out applications. It has literally taken days to fill out this 29 section application for a few county school positions (one application for the entire county). I submitted that today along with another application for a community college. I am hoping between the two (or just one), that I will earn enough to not have to stress about making rent and utility and student loan payments.

Why is this information relevant to my conversion? Because the only reason that I am getting a new job is because I need to move within walking distance of my shul. My conversion is the reason I have spent days doing paperwork, finding addresses, and updating my resume and references.

Once I have a job secured, I will secure an apartment. I still have a few months before I need to worry about moving (about 8 at the most), so I am trusting that Hashem will provide when it is the right time.

I spent all day Sunday creating a table (in order of the alef bet - alphabet) of all of the words I know in Hebrew. There are well over 400 words but only one form of each word is on the table. I know multiple forms of many of the words, masculine and feminine and plural. I was so into creating my table that I missed a Hebrew lesson. GZ messaged me to see if I was okay because I never miss. He then reminded me of some words that I forgot to add. I will be adding those tonight.

Though I wish sometimes that I can just focus on one thing during this conversion, I know I can't. I get little bits and pieces of things done and things learned and do my best to apply them right away. It takes time and different aspects of my life require me to move at different paces. I'm sure this is true of everyone that converts. Either that or is just the way my brain works. I'm learning to trust G-d at a new level, and it's hard. Nothing about this journey has been easy. I've given up time that I spent on things that I loved doing, like writing poems and stories, to write cover letters and submit applications. I study all the time and there is always so much more to study. I have a large selection of new books and a large number waiting in my Amazon cart to be purchased. I'm not complaining (well except about writing cover letters). I wish I had more time to focus on learning and studying, but I know that is the impatient side of me trying to peek through.

I need to work, not only to pay my bills, but because I have a purpose there. Though I know my purpose there is coming to an end (or else I wouldn't be forced to write cover letters), I know I am giving up an amazing job. Though my sense of loss is eradicated one day a week (when I am at shul and Tehillim), I feel it the other six.

I did not enter this conversion process lightly. It took years to come to this decision. I do not have any doubts even now about this decision (even after being forced to write cover letters). I will be telling my boss tomorrow that I am submitting applications elsewhere (because I did use him as a reference). Like I said, I am trusting G-d on a new level, and it's hard.

I love you my king.



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