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fuck yes, and other declarations

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A list. Should I list? I will.

  1. Current 2020 book read count: 58. Books currently in progress: 2. Can I make it to 60 before the year is out? Fuck yes.
  1. Re: most recent books read and reading. Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Friends and Family; Living a Jewish Life; and Genesis: The Book of Beginnings.

  2. Re: the theme of my most recent reads.
    When I was 14, I decided I wanted to be Jewish. Do you know how you know something about yourself, deep down, without question? That’s how I felt the first time I learned about Judaism. I was probably 8 or 9. I was reading a book, maybe Number the Stars. I immediately thought about reincarnation. Was I Jewish in another life? That’s how strongly I knew this about myself. By the time I was 14, I had purchased a Magen David necklace and had read many books, fiction and not, about all things related to Judaism. But then my upbringing got in the way. Isn’t that the case for everyone? As I got older, I decided that all religion was stupid. So I gave up.

    In college, things changed a bit for me. I took anthropology classes, I took philosophy and classes on comparative spiritual traditions. I studied the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Upanishads. The Koran. Sufism. Rumi. Shintoism. Buddhism. The Bible. Contemplative practices like meditation and vows of silence. Thomas Merton. Confucius.

    I read a book called Choosing Your Religion by the head of Harvard Divinity School. I saw the connections and digressions and obsessions and wondered how my own spirituality could express itself. It lead me to a Unitarian Universalist church for while. But that still didn’t fit.

    But the past several months, Judaism showed up again. I don’t even know what drew my attention again. Maybe it was Cantor Fine, who comes to school and does a Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur presentation for the kids. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been following Mayim Bialik for years on the IG. She’s been an influence on me, as a woman with her PhD and a very strong spiritual practice. She posts videos for My Jewish Learning and Partners and Torah. Maybe it’s been hearing her talk about her experiences and her explanations of Jewish things (High Holidays, Shabbot, Torah, Hebrew, etc.) for so long that everything came together for me again. She did a video back in September on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and I literally got goosebumps listening to her. It was beautiful and everything she was saying felt like something I had been needing to hear.

    So I started reading about Judaism again. I have a list of about 10 books I want to read soon. I’ve read one and am almost done with a second. A third I’ll be reading as a read the Torah. I downloaded a Torah Parshah app to be able to see the weekly parashiyot and haftarot and read them in English. We’re currently in B’reishit (Genesis), since the new year was only back at the end of September (Rosh Hashanah). I have an app that lets me read Torah commentary. I have another app for learning to read basic Hebrew. I have downloaded a Siddur to follow along with the liturgical calendar and prayers. I’ve taught myself two prayers in Hebrew, the Shema and Mi Shebeirach. I’ve started listening to Jewish music, both religious and secular. I bought myself a small menorah; Hannukah begins Dec 10. I’ve attended two temple services virtually. I’m following tons of Jewish IG accounts, individual people as well as educational, cultural, and religious accounts. I have a Google Calendar plugin that lets me see the Hebrew calendar dates concurrently with the Gregorian calendar. I’ve researched local synagogues, JCCs, and even local mikvaot. I want to start observing Shabbat myself, though I’m not really ready to bring this part of my life out in the open yet. But the most important thing I’ve been doing is writing down the things about Judaism that appeal to me, the reasons why I am considering formally converting. I’ll share it when I feel ready.

    I feel like most people in my life will be shocked to hear how far in I’m getting with this. I routinely feel like who I am on the inside is surprising to people, who only really know me or see me from my outside. But this path feel right to me right now. Jewish people are often referred to as “the people of the book,” a reference to how integral learning and study is to the Jewish way of life. Studying Jewish history, religion, or culture is actually a mitzvah, a good deed, a way of fulfilling one of the commandments. The Talmud says, “if you forsake study for one day, it will forsake you for two.” I’m not going to make this decision lightly and I definitely won’t make this decision without learning as much as I possibly can and fully immersing myself in everything that Judaism can offer.

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