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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Next steps.

This afternoon I am meeting with my Rabbi for the first time since before Pesach. Why? Well, in between Passover and now I was in my 101 classes, so I saw him every week and my Jewish education was marching forward. Now I’m back on my own and need to figure out what happens over the next few months as I draw near to my actual conversion.

But, knowing my Rabbi, I need to be prepared for the meeting. I can’t just walk in and say, “What next?” because he’ll just answer with a question. Maybe, “What are you struggling with? What do you have questions about? Why do you want Judaism and what does it mean to you? How are things different than they were in December or in March?”

So I’m going to take a couple minutes, try to figure out what I’m going to say to my Rabbi this afternoon.

“Um, well, you know… like… jews are cool and stuff. I like it and well, you know, I don’t know… cool.”

Maybe I should say something better than that? Where am I at along my path to Judaism? I was thinking the other day about how much this is like studying or living abroad. How much harder would this be if I hadn’t spent 5 months in London and 4 month in Argentina or even 10 days in Japan? I see the same peaks, plateaus and valleys that I experienced abroad. Only this time, I don’t plan on leaving or going back home, but instead, making this new country my home.

So what challenges am I facing lately.

  1. Hebrew. In a couple weeks, Hebrew classes will start and I’ll start moving up the language ladder again. I forget to recognize that in 8 months I have learned a new alphabet and can now follow along with prayers. Not only can I follow along, but when paragraphs are dropped—I can search a page of Hebrew text and catch up with the congregation. It doesn’t mean I know what I’m saying when I get there, but I can find it and even point it out to other people.

  2. God. I suppose God should be first on the list and not second, but honestly, I worry more about the Hebrew some days. I’m still trying to adjust to having God in my life—or recognizing God in my life. Trying to have God in my life every day, not just on Shabbat and not just for 45 seconds while I mangle a prayer before I go to sleep. I’m trying to do morning pages, but have some fear about them. Morning pages are a door to a stronger relationship with God, making it a two way street and I know how powerful that can be and it scares me. Some mornings I leap out of bed, “ready to do God’s will” and write my morning pages… More often, I hit the snooze button and say I’ll do it tomorrow.

  3. Community. After Sunday, I started thinking more about community. Suddenly I realized that this is the first community I’ve been involved with since I left Colorado. And that I missed it. People commented that I’d gone above and beyond, helping with two events on one day. But if you knew me in college or at Fort Lewis—where I was in communities, you would know better. I have been thirsty for community and the synagogue brings me into the folds of a community. So while it might seem odd to new friends, old friends know that I stick my calendar into every event possible.

  4. Reading. I am nearing the end of “Searching for God at Harvard.” Even though it was written by an Orthodox Jew, I relate to much of his journey learning about his own faith, religions, and intellectual struggles. He comes to Harvard with an Orthodox upbringing and finds he can question Judaism without losing who he is and in fact, growing in who he is. I come to Judaism and am finding that I’m not losing myself—the person I became in a secular world—but growing into a new self. I’m trying to find balance between my own religion and the world. There are descriptions of finding balance between two people of different Jewish outlooks—a powerful lesson. Also have the Art of Amazement and The Artist’s Way on my nightstand. And The Days of Awe in my reading queue.

  5. High Holidays. I have The Days Of Awe next in my reading list so I can prepare in some way for my first set of High Holidays. Last year I sort of was there on the edge of things—by arranging for my roommate to attend services with a former co-worker. I was peeking in on his Jewish life, same as I did at Chanukah. I’m not sure at all what to expect, but want to do some prep before they roll around.

Now we are ready to ask, What Next?

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