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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Let the baking begin.

After measuring and kneading and questioning whether or not this goopy brown stuff will really be bread tomorrow, I have set my first batch of challah bread in the warmth of my oven to rise for two hours.

Challah is served on holidays and on Shabbat. It is a basic braided bread, but considering it has been YEARS since I attempted anything with yeast and eggs–it is a risky venture. But as I stood at the counter kneading the dough, I thought about a hundred thousand future thursday nights making challah dough. Always in preparation for shabbat. I hope to serve challah to my own family someday, but for now will just force my roommate to be the royal tester.

Yesterday I told two of my closest jewish friends of my decision to pursue the jewish way of life. It was after attempts to get them both on the phone or make plans. I couldn’t get Liane on the phone and Ronnie is, as always, booked solid for two weeks. So I wrote Liane and told her expressly–this is why I keep calling and this is what is going on. She wrote back and accused me of following in Madonna’s footsteps. I corrected her and wrote that I was following in Charlotte’s footsteps.

I wanted to tell Ronnie in person, but couldn’t wait. It was different than with Liane, I wanted him to notice instead of being forthright. In an email about new years, I mentioned I’d gone to shul. He didn’t reply. In an email yesterday, inviting him out for chicken pot pie (which may not even be kosher and I’ll have to get something else, damn.), I mentioned I was studying with a rabbi, but buried it deep within the email. That he picked up and immediately wrote back, “What are you studying with a rabbi?” I was able to ramble on and on about conversion and picking a synogogue and why I was doing a reform conversion over conservative or orthodox.

It matters a lot to me what both of them have to say about it. Mainly I’m looking to expand my umbrella of support this year. The main reason I didn’t tell either of them I was considering it, was I didn’t want to make this decision by committee. I wanted this to be all me. Maybe that is selfish, but it is the truth. I also began reading the Idiots Guide in order to decide, outside of the context of dating a jewish man (and by extension his family), was judaism right for me. When the crush on the nice jewish boy faded, judaism stuck. Even without the external excuse of relationship, I still wanted to be jewish.

I still can’t put my figure on what made me pick up the phone and call-a-rabbi the week before Christmas, but I think it had something to do with my grandmother passing away. She was faithful her whole life, but not terribly demonstrative about it. Maybe she nudged me? Maybe it was god.

Whatever it was, I’m looking forward to my third shabbat tomorrow. When I come home from work, maybe I’ll light a couple candles. Is it okay if they are of St. Francis and the Virgin Mary? Bake my first loaf of Challah and head to shul.

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