Religion & Beliefs

Becoming Jewish: The Path Of Most Resistance

In times of hardship, it isn’t always easy to focus on your soon-to-be new religion. Maybe read some Marc Maron to help out? Read More

By / June 22, 2011
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

I’m sad to say that life has gotten in the way of my journey of becoming Jewish. Now I’m beginning to see why it takes so long.

In between my Joan Didion-esque struggle against New York City (oy vey, it sure is unbearable sometimes), quitting my job, and transitioning to a life of freelance work (for all you non-writers, that means being broke), it’s been hard to focus on Judaism. But, this is a time when I need to turn to it, and so I resolve, once this period of adjustment is completed, to jump back in.

Not only has life gotten in the way of my learning about the religion, but so have my sleeping habits. I’ve been making up for months of sleep depravation, which caused me to miss going to Shul on Shavuot both to study and to pray. When I showed up with my boyfriend Danny and his brothers to their Synagogue, Kiddush had just begun. I’m not going to complain about the awesome pizza served, but I felt like all I did on this holiday was eat. Whereas with Purim and Hanukkah I ate, prayed, and lov–no, no, I ate, prayed, and celebrated, these past two holidays, Shavuot and Passover, I felt like I was missing out. But that was my own fault.

As I’ve said before, it’s been a struggle for me throughout this process to put Judaism above everything else, even when I know it’s what I should be doing. I never work on Shabbot, but I do go out, and with Passover and Shavuot, I had to go back to the city for work. It’s difficult for me to put celebrating a holiday ahead of making rent money. Whether I celebrate it the whole way through or don’t, I feel guilty either way. So maybe I am becoming more Jewish.

At least I’ve greatly reduced my intake of pork (only once in the last month!) and I’m trying to be more kosher. I’m reading “Living Judaism” by Rabbi Wayne Dosick, “A Book of Life” by Michael Strassfeld, and “The Jerusalem Syndrome (My Life as a Reluctant Messiah)” by Marc Maron. In Maron’s book, he describes a scene in which he feels good and whole – the same feeling that Judaism has given me at least a handful of occasions. I can just forget everything and feel serene, which is something that I very rarely experience. Never before had a book I read so wonderfully conveyed that warmth you feel in your heart when everything just seems like it’ll be okay.

Even if I haven’t been practicing the religion as much as I should, I think that having positive social experiences with the Jewish community, Jewish friends, and Danny’s family is the most important aspect of all of this. I feel like I’ve gained a second family and I’ve joined an exciting new part of society. It’s a wonderful feeling to find people that accept me for all my wackiness and are comfortable enough to be themselves around me as well. Judaism also forces shy people like me to open up and talk about, well, everything. It’s an honest religion full of truthful dialogue and conversation, whether it’s about serious topics like marriage and sex or funny little complaints about daily living. That’s why I feel like it’s important I’m honest with myself, and in this column, even when I’ve gotten off track. Nobody’s conversion process is perfect, and I shouldn’t beat myself up over a few missteps. I have a lifetime to be fully immersed in Judaism. The most crucial part of this is that I try my best to become the person I’ve always imagined.