Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Convertsation

You're going to what?

Convert to Judaism. We're sitting in traffic on the Skuylkill Expressway outside of Philadelphia enroute to my sister's house when I decide to have this conversation with my Mom. For those not familiar with this particular Expressway, it seems there is never a time that cars actually drive on it. You just sit and sit and sit. Admittedly, not the best timing on my part. I was certainly old enough to make this decision on my own being in my 30's, but just decided to have the little what's new in my life conversation with her.

I was brought up Catholic - Irish Catholic to be exact. That translates into many siblings, in my case nine and issues with alcohol, in my case, weeell, let's protect anonymity here. I was a long lapsed Catholic and had faith issues in general. The sudden interest in Judaism wasn't so sudden as it turned out. I had been dating my husband for some time and we had begun the "convertsation". Actually, I began it - "Mr. Scissorhands, I am thinking of converting." Hello Rabbi. Very long story short, after a year studing with a Rabbi in Brooklyn with my future hubby, it was official. To give credit to both Moms involved - mine, after she got out of the car that day, (no she did not throw herself underneath) was subsequently never anything but supportive and respectful of my decision, even if she did not fully undertand it. And Mr. Scissorhand's, well, she is nothing if not practical and any hard time she gave me never had anything to do with my religion. Through some difficult times, we have come to have a good understanding of each other, particularly as one Jewish mother to another.

I often hesitate to tell people I converted only because some people's reaction is to doubt the sincerity or authenticity of me as a Jew - the oh come on, you still eat lobster dontcha? I don't. I still grapple with faith issues in general and feel I could be doing more for myself on a spiritual level, but that seems to be a common thread for me.

Anyway, just a little teeny glimpse into G's life. You know some may think I converted for the jokes, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Did I tell you the one about the Irish girl...some other time.


Doug The Una said...

Anyone with faith grapples with faith issues. Thanks for the fresh insight. I didn't realize scissorhands was a Jewish name. Not that I'm surprised, really.

Anonymous said...

i agree with Doug, i'm not sure you can actually have faith in anything without questioning that which you do and/or should believe in.

my oldest son converted to catholicism a few years ago, our joke was that he did it as a form of rebellion (he was also a "conservative republican"... aieee!). a few months ago, he had an "epiphany" and decided the foundations upon which that faith is based are most decidedly not for him (he also realized he's actually... a "liberal").

my husband was raised pentecostal... i was raised episcopalian. these days we believe in all powers greater than ourselves... including, the power of love, joy, kindness and respect. not very religious, and yet, we feel at peace, spiritually.

i admire your convictions & courage, clearly you're comfortable and happy with your decision, and, in the end, that's the only thing that matters!lovely post, thank you for sharing! : D

G said...

Thank you both - the truth is I have never felt more "at home" in my skin than recent years. For me being Jewish is not just religion, but who we are as a family. Really what I didn't touch upon was that Hiltler failed as I witness everyday when I look at my beautiful children. The traditions are so much a part of everyday life and as such, they sort of elevate some of the basic everything activities to more of a spiritual level. Hard to explain but I think you know what I mean.

As we all know religious isn't always synonymous with spirituality and peace. Good and evil come in all packages.

G said...

Well, I was up late last night, woke up with two children in the bed talking over me - "Tali switch sides" says Julian, as they climb over me. I actually had a thunder of a headache and then woke up too early. That said, my previous post was posted without preview - so no edits. Still feeling the weight of my tiredness, I think I'll just leave it at that. Hope you're all enjoying the beautiful day.

Puppytoes, My hubby and daughter are headed to your neck of the woods for a USA/Latvia pre World Cup soccer game at Renschler (?) Stadium in CT. Please keep a look out for them.

Kyahgirl said...

Hi G-that's an interesting bit of knowledge about you.
I was raised Irish Catholic too :-)

I, like Doug said, "have faith and grapple with faith issues". I feel a great spiritual depth in myself but haven't tried very hard to find a home for it.

I could blither on for ages I suppose about my questions on faith, religion, spirituality but have two kids tugging at my sleeve and a knee length lawn to 'grapple' with. It will have to wait.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting, and I'm glad neither family made it traumatic. If I were any religion it would be Jewish. My husband is not Jewish or of Jewish origin, but because of his prominent nose, thick curly black hair, glasses, intellectual occupation, and German last name he fits the stereotypes, and many people, especially Jewish ones, have assumed he was. They ask me how we manage the Hannukka/Çhristmas thing and all that. I made this even more likely by giving my daughter a name many Jewish women had about 25 years ago. I don't particularly care for the local Unitarian Church, and have considered going to the reformed synagogue--but I would feel as if we were "passing."