Take the F train to Avenue P. That was our trip for one year - give or take. Tuesday nights after work. But first, there was the initial meeting with the Rabbi we were to study with for that coming year. Adrian and I. One of my brothers took to calling me "Little Yentl - on the train to Brooklyn" and he did mean it lovingly. But after that first meeting, which was after a disaster of a missed real first meeting (oy vey), I was not feeling the love. Well, you know that the end result was and is that I eventually convinced a Bet Din (Jewish Court of Law) that I was a sincere convert (the fact that one of the "rabbis" seemed to be sleeping, well if nobody's asking, I'm not telling). It was a cold day in November. I don't remember the date on the American calendar exactly - the 19th perhaps? But I remember it on the Hebrew calendar as the 25th of Chesvan. Jewish Calendar. We celebrated by going out for pizza at a Kosher Pizzeria and taking the F train back home. To celebrate further, we bought a Kiddish cup to use for Friday night Shabbat blessing of the wine and Shabbat candlesticks to use when welcoming in the Sabbath. Devil in the details, funny I remember them all. It was a grayish sort of cold late fall day - those really short days of November.
Oddly, any giving birth for me - to myself as a Jew and to both of my beautiful children, has taken place at this time of year; always a magical time for us.
I was the one who sprung the question to Adrian - no, not that one. The I want to convert, what do you think question. It meant so much to him. It meant so much to me. You see, here's the thing about being Jewish (and I speak from both sides of the coin) it ain't easy. No, not in the every day sense, it's part of my fiber now, but in the societal sense. You see, Adrian did not know he was Jewish for maybe the first ten years of his life. He grew up in communist Romania and practicing one's religion wasn't high on the list of Things To Do. His father told him at that time and explained what some of the repercussions of being Jewish had been. A lot to take in for a boy not yet bar mitzvah. This was before Adrian was going to begin a journey to a new land - America via Italy first. He envisioned the streets to have cowboys roaming them and landed at JFK in March to a blizzard. Welcome.
That's just a little background. He has lost much of his family to the Holocaust - grandparents, uncles, many others - gone. His mother survived along with her sister and a cousin. Their parents and brother didn't fare as well. So for me, it was never a question of what our identity as a family would be - Jewish. I feel it deep within me.
It became even more poignant and important when years later as Tali (my daughter and then about three years old) was being bathed by her grandmother and she tried scrubbing her arm, asking "Grandma, why won't this come off your arm?". The numbers from Auschwitz. Luckily I had made my mind up long before this occurred. My children are Jews, we are a Jewish family. We are extremely proud of the heritage implied by that.
I may not be as observant a Jew as my Rabbi would have liked, but I'm as sincere a Jew as you'll meet.
Oh, now before I forget, head on over to that kvetch, Doug's place, and see, coincidentally who his Wednesday guest is...Waking Ambrose