rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
Today, August 27, is the two-year anniversary of my first time attending services at the temple. In some ways, this day is more important to me than the anniversary of my conversion. I can't believe it's been two years already! For the first several services I attended there, I wrote detailed journal entries describing each one. Well, I reread those over the weekend, and I just about sat there with my mouth hanging open. I was amazed at how strange and unfamiliar so many parts of the services felt to me then, that have become comforting and familiar now.

After two years, I feel like the honeymoon is over, and what happened over the weekend kinda contributed to that. On Saturday morning, we had the first session of religious school for this school year, and it is not off to a great start. Rabbi W is a nice guy, but he can be so boring. I really think he has no memory of what it's like to be a kid, and no concept of what kids today find entertaining. I felt so bad for the kids, to the point that I'm thinking about e-mailing Rabbi W with more exciting lesson suggestions. I'm kinda paranoid about their faith becoming boring or burdensome to them. Maybe I'm taking this too seriously.

But after religious school, the grown-ups had Torah study, and that went even worse. We didn't talk about the torah portion for the week at all! Instead, Rabbi W passed out copies of an article about Iran trying to develop nuclear weapons, the threat it poses to Israel, and what America should do about it. I do think that's a topic we should care about, but I'm not sure Torah study is the right place to bring it up. We stayed off-topic from there, and things got very political and divisive. A sample of what was said:
  • "Well, Romney is very pro-Israel. Israel will have a friend in Romney." UGH! Don't even get me started on the whole idea of voting for an American president based on Israeli interests! Wtf?
  • "Obama has always been very pro-Muslim. I mean, just look at his middle name." Well, of course, if you're pro-Muslim, then you must hate Israel! The two are completely exclusive!
  • "But it says in Torah that all Jews are supposed to live in Israel." I was seriously tempted to get up in this woman's face and yell, "Well, I don't see you there!"
It got so bad I actually had to get up and leave. Ugh.

On Sunday afternoon, I played basketball with "Briana." (Sara said when I told her after, "But you don't play basketball!" Me: "Yes, we definitely established that.") During all of the previous stuff we've done together, Briana has been kinda shy and quiet, but I definitely saw another side of her come out playing basket ball. She was very competitive and even a little aggressive and braggy. She scored about 30 hoops to my 5. I couldn't have cared less about getting my butt kicked, but I could've done without her showing-off attitude. But she's just a kid, so I'm trying not to let it annoy me. We played basketball until we were sweaty and hot, then it stated raining right in time. The basketball court was covered, so we just got cool breezes and a little mist on our faces. It felt so good. Then we drove down the street to Burger King and got two 50-cent ice cream cones (yum!) and listened to the two girls behind the counter argue about the right way to dress a hamburger. They got so into it that we both cracked up. For the most part, it was a fun afternoon.

I guess I should a lesson about this from temple. It took several services there before it stopped feeling weird to me. And hopefully, I'll get better at religious school and doing stuff with Briana with time and practice, too. Fake it till you make it, Rebecca.

I wasn't planning on doing anything to celebrate this day, but, almost as if he knew it was my two-year templeversary, Sassy Jewish Grandfather #1 took me out for a drink at the coffee shop. (Cheryl & Maggie took me out on this day last year, which is back here.) He's also burning me a CD of songs our choir does at services. :) I might complain a lot, but deep down, I know I'm very blessed.

28 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS! Less than month to go, people!
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
Shabbat services at temple tonight marked a very special occasion for me (and for Rabbi W, who is finally back in Louisiana after a trip to visit family in Israel, where he fell ill, had to be hospitalized, and worried the crap out of all of us). Today, August 10, is the one-year anniversary of my conversion to Judaism. My entry on that day is back here. It's hard to believe it's been a year already! A year ago, I never would've thought that I'd get roped into teaching Jewish Sunday School, or that I'd spend a week at a Jewish summer camp.

While I'm grateful to be Jewish and it has enriched my life in many ways, there are certain things I didn't know before I converted that I now wish I had.


More complicated thoughts under the cut. )

As an aside, I rode my bike to services tonight, which I haven't done in a while, and I'm a little embarrassed by how quickly I felt out-of-breath and exhausted. I really hope I can start bike-riding in earnest again once the weather is cooler. I pushed two little kids in my congregation (who will both be new students in religious school in the fall) around on my bike after services tonight, and they loved it.

45 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)

Well, today was the day that I'd been both dreading and looking forward to. After a delicious breakfast of hot chocolate-chip scones in the dining hall this morning (I will miss having all of my meals prepared for me!), I finished packing, checked Muse Watson's tires, and went on my way. The trip back home was smooth, and I only had to make one stop outside Baton Rouge to eat, use a restroom, and buy gas. Muse Watson made good time, and I'm so proud of that cranky old car; I don't think either of us really believed he would make it safely there and back!

I am definitely happy to be home -- I missed Sara, Tovah, my hair straightener, my room, etc. -- but I was also sad to leave such a beautiful summer camp, even though my time there had some rough spots. I posted in my entry on the first day about how hard it was being there by myself, but really, it was hard the whole week through. I've always sucked at meeting people, and my week there was no exception. Still, there was a wonderful, welcoming, relaxed, safe atmosphere at camp that I can't really explain. I will miss the cool weather, the slow-paced summer days under the pine trees. I will miss the sense of a shared Jewish identity, which is something else I can't explain (and unless you're a minority, I don't think you can really understand). I'd never been in such a huge group of people who all knew how to sing the HaMotzi or the Birkat Hamazon. It blew my mind the first time everyone in the dining hall started singing it, and I hope I never forget that.

But what blows my mind more than anything else is knowing that at this time in 2010, just two years ago, I'd never even set foot in a Jewish house of worship. Seriously, never. I was still researching and learning about Judaism on my own, biking past the temple frequently, and trying to get up the nerve to walk through those doors. If you had told me then that in a year, I would officially convert, and within two years, I'd spend a week working at a Jewish summer camp -- would I have believed you? Probably not. Already, Judaism has become a bigger part of my life and my identity than I ever could've imagined. I hope I can remember to never totally lose faith in what might seem unlikely or even impossible.

I'll find my way home on the western wind
To a place that was once my world
Back from where I've been

And in the morning light, I'll remember
As the sun will rise
We are all the glowing embers of a distant fire

rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)
I can't believe it's the end of only my second full day at camp. The day here is long, busy, and active, so this morning's breakfast already feels like days ago! The Maccabiah Games wound down today. Team Yarok won, which surprised me because Team Adom won most of the contests that I was a judge for. I stayed busy doing administrative work for the office, mostly sorting mail, but I did have some free time. After dinner, Alan Goodis, a touring Jewish musician, gave a great outdoor concert that I just got back from. He sang "One Day," a song that a few different Jewish singers have covered (I have the Maccabeats' cover of it on my iPod) and I was amazed when everyone in the audience seemed to know it. Seriously, they sang along for every word!


Beautiful crepe myrtles are in bloom all over camp, including these right outside my room.

In fact, I've been amazed by many of the things I've seen here. Like at evening services, when the campers bow during the Baruchu, cover their faces during the Shema, and whisper the second line of it. Maybe it's because I wasn't raised Jewish, or maybe it's because I attend a temple where we don't usually do any of those things, but it blows my mind that kids as young as these campers do that when they pray. They also sing the Birkat Hamazon, the full version, after every meal here! I felt pretty stupid after my first meal in the dining hall, when everyone was singing it except me. I'm trying to learn it, but the Birkat Hamazon is a very long prayer and I'm not familiar with the melody.



This young woman leads the campers in all their songs/chants after every meal. She is so talented and looks and sings just like the camp's own personal Taylor Swift.

In short, I realize that I've been living in a very narrow Jewish world. I think this is understandable, since I only officially converted less than a year ago. And I've learned a lot during my first year as an official Jew, but here at camp, I see that there are still so many different ways of being Jewish and practicing Judaism for me to discover. I am so grateful to be here.



A portion of the mural on the wall of the dining hall. This photo does it no justice! The words at the top say, "If you will it, it is no dream. To be a free people in our land of Zion and Jerusalem..."

At his concert, Alan Goodis sang several Jewish songs (like a great catchy version of "Al Sh'losha D'varim") and a few secular ones -- a few by James Taylor and two by Warren Zevon. One was "Keep Me in Your Heart," which made me a little emotional because it was the song we played at Dad's funeral. The other one was "Don't Let Us Get Sick," and this verse especially struck me because it so perfectly fits this camp, the atmosphere here, and the lake at night. It almost made me wonder if Warren Zevon had ever been to this camp.


The moon has a face, and it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in time
I'm lucky to be here with someone like you
Who maketh my spirit to shine
Don't let us get sick, don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right
Just make us be brave and make us play nice
And let us be together tonight

Ken y'hi ratzon -- may this always be God's will.
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
This will probably be the last post I make from this apartment. Today, between Yom HaShoah events, I signed the lease and got the keys to our new place. It's still kinda hard to believe that we're moving. When I woke up this morning, Sara said, "I can't believe we're moving tomorrow. And I don't think this apartment believes it, either." Haha. True to our procrastinating nature, we left everything to the last minute! I did put a very small dent in moving things into our new place, but I wasn't able to carry much with my skinny arms -- and it didn't take long before sweat was dripping off me!

I will be glad to see the last of "Smallpartment" -- as Sara and I have decided to refer back to this one in the future -- but I don't want to make it seem like living here was a totally bad experience. There are two big things to be thankful for:

#1) Living within walking distance of Grandma, right up until the day she moved out of her old house. Now that Grandma has died and the house where she lived for 47 years is sold and being remodeled, I realize how precious this was. I will always treasure my memories of all those lazy afternoons spent walking Sable (who's also gone now, the poor old puppy) over to her house, visiting with her, eating her cooking, watering her garden, and swinging on her porch swing. It was a blessing to have her so close by during her final years.

#2) Living within biking distance of the only Jewish temple in a 50-mile radius. Sara says I wouldn't have converted to Judaism without NCIS (which led me to writing fanfiction, which led me to learning more about Judaism for a Ziva-centric fic I wrote). But I honestly don't think that I would've converted -- or at least, not at this time in my life -- if I hadn't lived in such close proximity to the temple. (It's almost literally right around the corner from this apartment, and so easy to reach on my bike.) I've always been interested in Judaism, but riding my bike past the temple all the time was what really gave the courage to walk through those doors for the first time. And I've never regretted it. What a blessing.

I have to admit, I'm a bit nervous about leaving Smallpartment. I guess change is always hard. I pray that our new place will bring us blessings, too. It's appropriate that we should move so soon after Passover.



The Lord said to Moses, "Remember that I have brought you out of Egypt by a mighty hand." And the Lord led the people out of Egypt by way of the desert, which is by the Red Sea. The Lord went before them to show the way, by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire, that He may be with them at all times. -- Exodus 13.
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
As regular visitors to this blog may have already noticed, Rebecca changed her layout! This is a huge deal for me, as I've had very similar versions of the same layout ever since I joined LiveJournal back in 2007. I'd actually been wanting to change to the minimalism style for a while now, but I didn't think it allowed header images, and I'm pretty attached to my header image of Victoire Thivisol in Chocolat. Then I found some CSS coding that lets you customize your content width and add a header image in minimalism, so I quickly switched my style. It took me a while to get everything just right, though, and I still worry that while my blog might look the way I want on my computer, it could be all jumbled up on computers with different brower widths. I need to visit it on another computer and check.

A few random thoughts for the week so far:

I've noticed that whenever I run into people who knew all of my siblings and me (certain former teachers, friends of Grandmas') the first and/or only one of us they ask about is Ben. I never noticed this before, but now that I have, it's irritating. Is it because he's the oldest? What did he ever do to warrant getting asked about first? He's not the only one of us worth asking about, nor was he ever. I should start telling people that he doesn't even support himself and still lives with his mom.

I finally came up with a New Year's resolution for 5772: to write more fanfiction about Jewish characters in different fandoms. (I already have a couple fanfics that deal with Judaism, but they're almost all about Ziva.) I think this counts as the mitzvot of k'lal yisrael, Jewish solidarity -- not to be confused with t'zionut, support of the state of Israel. My other resolution is to do more mitzvot. I've realized during these High Holy Days that even though I'm official now, I still don't really feel 100% Jewish. I suppose this will take some time. So I'm trying to build my Jewish identity any way I can.

On a similar note, I'm seriously thinking about fasting (or trying to) on Yom Kippur this year. Last year, my reaction to the whole idea was pretty much, "Fast? Like hell I'm fasting, you crazy Jews!" But this year, I'm officially one of those "crazy Jews," so I feel like I should at least make an attempt. It doesn't help that my birthday falls so close to Yom Kippur this year, and my grandma wants to cook me a special birthday dinner right when I'm supposed to be fasting!

I got a fortune out of a fortune cookie this week that told me: If you have to choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before. I LOVE that!
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
I've kinda been looking forward to this day for a while. It's my anniversary with the temple! Exactly one year ago today - Friday, August 27, 2010 - I rode my bike and attended services there for the first time. It's so strange to think that it's already been a year, when I still remember my first visit so well. Mostly I remember how nervous I was. I had never attended any sort of Jewish service before, never walked through those doors before, and even though I'd done a lot of research into Judaism, I didn't know anyone there and really had no idea what to expect.

It's hard to write about how much it's changed my life. One year later, I've officially converted. I'm a first-name basis with a whole group of people that I didn't know before. It's given me a sense of peace that I've never found anywhere else, and I like to think it's made me a better, happier, less selfish person. To put it simply, I have a family and a life now that I didn't have a year ago. It's almost hard to remember what I did before I had Judaism, and this temple. I mean, how bored and lonely was I?

I didn't have anything exciting planned for today, but almost as if they knew it was my anniversary, two members of our congregation - Cheryl and her little girl, Maggie - swooped by and picked me up. Maggie is the sweetest kid, and for some strange reason, she really likes me and thinks I'm so cool. (Eva thought the same thing for a long time. She'll be 14 at the end of the month, and I think she's finally starting to realize how lame I really am.) First we had lunch at Burger King, and then we went to a family fun day downtown. There was face-painting, balloon animals, games, door prizes, etc. - fun, but so exhausting that I conked out as soon as I got home.

More cool stuff for today - back in October, our temple was visited by a camera crew from the History Channel. We're featured for about five minutes in a two-hour long program called "You Don't Know Dixie," that tries to debunk stereotypes about the south. It's on TV tonight, and although the History Channel's played it before, this will be my first time to see it. Lots of faces from the temple are in it, including Rebecca! (When Jacob told me, my first response was, "What was I wearing that day?")


Screencaps from our part of the show! )

I almost ended this entry with a nice verse from the Torah, but if you know me, you won't be surprised that I went with The Beatles instead.
Man, we was lonely, yes, we was lonely

And we was hard-pressed to find a smile
Man, we was lonely, yes, we was lonely
But now we're fine all the while
rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
Between becoming a Jew, celebrating it, working the back-to-school season, and trying to finish my ficathon, Rebecca's been pretty busy these past few days. I'm off work today, so I'm going to try to recap what's been happening.

Official Conversion, Wednesday, August 10, 2011 )

Conversion Ceremony, Friday, August 12, 2011 )

I wasn't able to attend Torah study yesterday morning because I was stuck at work, but no less than four temple members stopped by the store afterwards. First Cheryl and Maggie brought me lunch, then Mr. and Mrs. G brought me half the bouquet of flowers from last night's ceremony (Diane took the other half). I've never had lunch or flowers delivered to me at work before! I felt so blessed and special and loved. I think I'm starting to get spoiled. After work, I drove to the local theater; they were putting on performances of all the best songs from this season's show, and Mr. G did his number from Kiss Me, Kate (which he sang all the way to Denham Springs, so I knew it well).


The flowers that the G's brought me, and the Jewish-shaped silly bands from the rabbi.

Today I'm busy being lazy and finishing up my story for [livejournal.com profile] ncis_ficathon. Posting starts ... TOMORROW! For all the worrying I did, I think it's turned out to be a pretty good story, and I'm eager to post it and read the story that was written for me. Can you believe this is my very first time in a ficathon? It's certainly the darn longest fanfic I've ever written, if nothing else. 9750 words and counting!
rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)

rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)

By some miracle, junk-food-loving Rebecca got tired of Little Caesar's greasy pizzas today and got lunch from Subway instead. The sandwich artist behind the counter recognized me as Adam's sister! Actually, he just asked me if I had a brother with really long hair who ate sandwiches with lots of mustard and onions on them. (Adam goes to Subway all time and gets foot-longs with big piles of spinach, onions, cheese, and mustard. Blegh. I almost can't be in the same room when he eats them.)

This means that the guy at Subway, the lady at the sno-cone stand, and one of my coworkers have all pegged us as siblings without ever seeing us together. What the hell? Do I really look that much like Adam? *depressed sigh*

THREE DAYS LEFT until Baton Rouge, interview with the beit din, having a mikvah, and officially becoming Jewish. I'm so nervous, and it doesn't help my nerves that work has been stressful as hell lately. And it doesn't help work that people have been quitting/calling in like crazy during Back-to-School, which is by far our busiest time of the year! I had to work late again today. But I am trying to stay focused and just get through the next two weeks. Then it will be over, and fall, cool weather, and Season 9 of NCIS will be right around the corner.
 
This is a parody of The Empire Strikes Back that I wrote a while ago. I cast Jacob (Sassy Jewish Grandfather #3) as Obi-Wan Kenobi because he has been such a big support to me. Our rabbi is Yoda [although he is not quite as old], and yours truly is Luke Skywalker.

Rabbi W: Why wish you become Jew? Hm?
Rebecca: Mostly because I hear there's money in it, I guess.
Rabbi W: I cannot convert her. The girl has no patience.
Jacob: She will learn patience. Was I any different when you converted me?
Rabbi W: Hm... no, she is not ready.
Rebecca: Jacob! I am ready! I can be a Jew! Jacob! Jacob, tell him I'm r -
Rabbi W: Ready, are you? What know you ready? For eight hundred years have I converted gentiles. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be converted. A Jew must have the deepest committment, the most serious mind. Jew gold. Ha. Bagels and lox. Ha. A Jew craves not these things. You are reckless.
Jacob: So was I, if you remember.
Rabbi W: She is too old. Yes, too old to begin converting.
Rebecca: But I've learned so much.
Rabbi W: Will she finish what she begins?
Rebecca: I won't go off the derech. I'm not afraid.
Rabbi W: You will be. You will be.

George Lucas's Version Under the Cut )



A few final things:
     ~ A few days ago, Sara was playing the song "Most Bamboozling Thing" (from The Sword in the Stone) on the computer and I tweaked the lyrics and sang, "They're wasting time resisting / They'll find the more they do / The more I'll keep insisting / That I have got to be a Jew!" Sara just about died laughing.
     ~ My rabbi called me yesterday to discuss a few more details about what'll happen in Baton Rouge. "Don't be nervous," he said. And later, "And bring a bath towel." Yeah, that helped. My Jewish grandparents are giving me and another lady who's converting a ride there.
     ~ The last time I saw my bad-ass Cajun grandma, I said as I was leaving her house, "Nex time you see me, I'll be Jewish!" Grandma: "That's all right, that's fine."

rebecca_in_blue: (dropped jaw)

Well, my date with the beit din is set! I'll be making another trip to Baton Rouge one week from today, August 10, and when I come back, this heathen-raised, Catholic-school-educated Cajun girl will be officially Jewish.

!!!!!

I'm really excited and nervous. So now that it's getting so close, I figure it's a good time to answer all those questions I never got asked.

What are you going to Baton Rouge for? What's a beit din?
     A beit din is usually a board of a few rabbis and/or people who are very knowledgeable about Judaism. They oversee things like Jewish divorces, circumcisions, and conversions. They're going to ask me some questions about why I want to convert. It's kinda like a job interview, except instead of "Why are you right for this position?" it's "Why do you want to be Jewish?" I'm nervous, but Jacob (Sassy Grandfather #3), who also converted, tells me that his biet din interview was a breeze. They basically said, "How are you today? You wanna be Jewish, huh? Okay, you're in!" I think he's playing it down a bit, but he's probably right that I'm worrying too much.
     Among the other the questions that I'll be asked:
          ~
Are you converting to Judaism of your own free will, and not just to please family members, friends, or any other third-party?
          ~
Have you severed ties with any previous religions? So long, Catholicism.
          ~
If you ever have children, do you swear to raise them Jewish? Not only that, but they'll be damn well-named too!
          ~
Do you swear to cast your lot with the Jewish people, come what may? In other words, if another Holocaust happens, I can't dig out my old Catholic baptism record (which probably still exists somewhere) and try to say I'm not really Jewish.
     After the beit din interview, I'm going to have a mikvah in the Amite River in Baton Rouge, and then I'll be officially Jewish. (The mikvah is the last step.) I'm nervous about this part too. :\

But Rebecca, you love cheeseburgers! You'll never be able to keep kosher!

     I'm converting to Reform Judaism, and most Reform Jews don't follow kosher dietary laws (which exclude pork, meat and milk in the same dish, among other things). So no, I'm not going to keep kosher. I like to think that I could do it if I really wanted, but I do love my cheeseburgers.

How do Jews worship Jesus?

     (I did once had a relative ask me this question, in so many words.) I was fairly surprised that I had to say this, but just so there's no confusion: Jews do not worship Jesus, nor believe he was divine, or the son of G-d, or the messiah/savior, etc.

But... then you can't celebrate Christmas and Easter anymore!
     Celebrate? No. Show up at Grandma's house on those days to spend time with the family stuff my face full of food? Hell yes! Don't even try to keep me away. Also, I will still expect gifts on Christmas I haven't yet decided whether I'll still expect gifts on Christmas. As I always say, I'll jump off that bridge when I come to it.

Are you going to have a bat mitzvah?
     No, at least not anytime soon. A bat mitzvah, the girl equivalent of a bar mitzvah, isn't required to convert to Reform. I could have one if I wanted to, but studying for a bar/bat mitzvah is a long, intense process (kinda like studying to convert) and I'm not planning to have one right now.

Well, are you going to do anything to celebrate?
     Hopefully. At some point, there will be a small ceremony for me and the three people converting with me during services at the temple, possibly followed by an oneg. I know that few people nobody in my family has ever attended the temple before, but I'd like for some of them to come. More details as that approaches. I have to discuss it with the temple secretary.

Once you're Jewish, will you suddenly become really rich? Are you going to start killing Christian children and drinking their blood?
     Shut up, Sara.

It's kinda funny that my last trip to Baton Rouge was to spend the day at Blue Bayou water park. This time, I'll be getting wet again, but the circumstances couldn't be more different!

2 days until the Musical Shabbat and ice cream social oneg -- yum!
6 days until the meeting with the beit din and my mikvah!
48 days until Season 9 of NCIS!

rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)

All these LiveJournal hiccups have been getting on my last nerve! Most people are having trouble accessing the site, right, not just me? I read a crazy-sounding theory that it's a massive hacker attack launched by pro-Kremlin forces in Russia, where LJ is the main platform for political dissenters. All I know is that not being able to get to my NCIS communities is driving me crazy! Anyway...

Name-related funnies unrelated to Sara:

#1
Michael and Brenda (Sassy Jewish Grandparents #1) invited me out for coffee last weekend. I had posted on FaceBook a while back that I was "kinda getting nervous" about converting, and I suspect they wanted to make sure I wasn't backing out. Brenda asked me if I had picked out a Jewish name yet. I'm a little surprised when people ask me this (my rabbi did) because I would think it'd be obvious that I'm picking Rivka, which is Rebecca in its Hebrew form. I love them both! They're such strong-sounding names to to me. Anyway, I told Brenda that I had chosen Rivka, and she said, "Oh, that's Rebekah's [their daughter] Hebrew name too! Isn't that a coincidence?" Me: "Well, it's the Hebrew version of Rebecca." Brenda: "Oh. Yes, of course." Michael: [rolling his eyes] "Oy, Brenda..."

#2
When I was walking Sable that night, my downstairs neighbors were outside barbequing and one of them asked me what his name was. I told her Sable, but she misheard C'est Bon and proceeded to drunkenly call, "C'est bon, c'est bon!" trying to get him to come to her. (He never comes when he's called. He's too old, probably deaf, and possibly blind.) But how Cajun is that?

54 DAYS LEFT until the Season 9 premiere of NCIS!

rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)

I’ve been working a lot lately — and eating a lot of Little Caesar’s cheese bread on my lunch breaks. That stuff is so addictive! This week, in addition to working almost forty hours (!), I have two jobs interviews, hope to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (the last Harry Potter movie - it doesn't seem possible!) with Adam and/or Eva. I’m trying not to complain because I need the money/hours, but I just feel so busy. I really forward to shabbat services as my weekly get-away-from-the-insanity time. I also desperately hope to get my ficathon story finished and in beta by the end of the month.

Yesterday was so up-and-down. I didn’t slow down between waking up early for Torah study, another meeting with the rabbi about converting, and working a full day until close.

If you’re not tired of reading about it yet, there’s a really long description of how Rebecca’s doing in the conversion process behind this cut. )



I’m glad that Jacob needed a blue-ink pen. And that someone in the temple left the lights on.

Almost forgot:
65 DAYS LEFT until the Season 9 premiere of NCIS!

rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

I usually don't watch Sex in the City, but lately I've caught a few episodes where Charlotte is converting to Judaism. And even though I really don't like that show, it's enough to make me want to sit down and watch the whole arc in order. It's also made me think about what a hugely different experience converting would be if I lived in an area with a substantial Jewish population (i.e., in Manhattan, like Charlotte, instead of Louisiana).

I guess that's part of the reason why converting has felt kinda strange. Even though it's the religion I'm converting to, a large part of Judaism - the stereotypes, certainly - is tied into Ashkenazi culture, and that's something I feel far away from. I don't live in the Deep South, but I do identify pretty strongly with Cajun culture, which is sometimes almost at odds with Jewish culture. Things like crawfish boils and couchon-de-laits are normal down here, and they're about as un-kosher as you can get. And it's Catholic country; I'm not really exaggerating when I say that I've met all twenty Jews in town. And I've lost track of how many people didn't know there was a Jewish temple in our city, or even know what Judaism is.

It's kinda hard to believe that there are places where it's common to see men in yarmulkes and mezuzahs on doors and challah bread in stores, cities with Jewish preschools and actual classes with lessons and homework assignments for people who want to convert. I can't even imagine how different it might be.

Judaism doesn't prosletyze, and traditionally, anyone wanting to convert is supposed to be rebuked three times! But there are so few Jews here that the people at the temple are very eager to get me converted, and I'm pretty sure that none of it is being done by the books. But our temple is reform, so even if they had plenty of Jews to spare, I doubt they would've rebuked three times. But that definitely would've crushed me.

I'm not sure where all this is coming from. It's just something I've been thinking about. On a somewhat-related note, I found a Star of David dish at the second-hand store today! I thought about donating it to the temple kitchen, but it was probably given to the store by a temple member - where else would it have come from? - so we're using it as a spoonrest on the stove right now.


Rebecca's Jew books: Living a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant; my siddur and tanakh; a Hebrew-English dictionary inherited from Dad; and my watercolor painting of G-d's name (from right to left, the letters are yud-hay-vav-hay).

rebecca_in_blue: (pursed lips)

After years of abuse, my cell phone has decided it's had enough. I dropped it at work yesterday and just about killed it. I'm not really surprised, because it's very old -- I think I got it in 2007, which is ancient in cell phone years and probably a record for me -- and I'm kinda rough with it. It's still working (barely) and hopefully I'll have a new one soon. Sara's cell phone died at the beginning of June, and for whatever reason, she still hasn't gotten a new one. Today her boss called me to get hold of her. I throw up my hands at this!

Tony and Barbara (Jewish Grandparents #2) took me out to dinner after temple services this evening. Our temple is reform, but they're very conservative. If not for the fact that they drive to services, I might even peg them for orthodox. They literally started spitting the appetizer out into their napkins in horror when they realized there were bacon bits in the spinach-and-artichoke dip. I had a hamburger and a Shirley Temple -- yum.

Several folks at our temple converted to Judaism, including them. In fact, they used to have a grotto of the Virgin Mary in their yard, and Barbara was a Catholic Sunday school teacher for years -- you can't make up stuff like that. Over dinner, she told me a long story about how she and Tony converted. (She talked so much that she barely got to eat her catfish, and I felt kinda bad for her.) Then she asked me how I found my way to Judaism. Unfortunately, my story was not as interesting or as eloquently-told. But they seemed impressed by it. Barbara also wanted to discuss where I could have my mikvah, which I wasn't really comfortable with, but at least she didn't try to set me up with her grandson.


Barbara & Tony. This is an old (bad) picture of them that I took at Passover.

I'm going to be working on the 4th, but I do have some fun things planned for this weekend. Tomorrow, Grandma is having a little move-in party at her new house, and I'm looking forward to it, as much as I hate the fact that she's moving. (My cousin Matthew sent me a message on Facebook: "Are you helping Grandma move this weekend?" Me: "No, I'm going to barricade all her doors so she can't move out of that house!") Mom invited me and Sara to dinner at her house on Sunday, so we'll see if that actually happens. And did I mention that Athena's in town for the weekend? Hooray!

I hope you all have a Happy 4th of July Weekend! And remember: Just own the night, like the 4th of July...

rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
(I will be keeping this post up here for a while so hopefully everyone sees the message at the bottom.)

"Thankful Thursday" is not something I came up with. I discovered it via [livejournal.com profile] morningloryblue, who probably found it through another user in turn. I almost certainly won't keep up with it on a regular basis (kinda like with Wordless Wednesday). In fact, I may never do it again after this! Who knows? But for today, at least, I wanted to give it a shot.

  • Aunt Connie gave me a new Beatles t-shirt! Although technically, it's not quite new: it used to be Athena's, and since she's so much shorter than I am, I've had to stretch it a lot to make it cover my stomach. Still, I love it. It has their Rubber Soul album on the front of it. I have another Beatles t-shirt (Abbey Road cover) but I think I like this one better.
  • Sara bought me my own copy of Homecoming! It's an excellent book, and now I finally get to find out how it ends.
  • Boss Man did something unexpectedly decent at work. (Maybe he knows I'm looking for a new job. Little does he know how badly it's going. Uh oh, now my Thankful Thursday is starting to sound negative.)
I'm hoping to make a drive to Lafayette tomorrow to attend shabbat services at the temple there. During my meeting with the rabbi last week, I realized that I'm converting to Judaism, but I've only ever attended services at one temple! Unfortunately, there isn't much opportunity for different Jewish services in southern Louisiana; this is the only other temple within a reasonable driving distance. I'm considering attending services at a Messianic temple. I'm really not comfortable with the idea of Messianic Judaism, but I have to admit, I'm curious. I think there are two Messianic temples nearby. I will probably keep it a secret from the folks at my temple if I ever go.

On a similar note, word has reached me that Grandma has asked some family members (not me) things like, "Why is Rebecca converting to Judaism? Why does she want to do that?" I suspect that other friends-and-relations might have similar questions but for whatever reason, don't want to ask me. So...

Attention, Readers! If you have any questions about converting to Judaism, even if you're afraid they might be rude/ignorant, please ask them now. I am by no means an expert, but I will take any questions I get and try to answer them all in one master post. You can click the "this is just to say" link below to leave a comment, or e-mail me at snow4849@hotmail.com.
rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)

Warning: This is a long post. Today has left me with a lot of things to blog about. Yes, some are completely shallow (holy cow, the Xavier/Magneto slashiness in First Class!) but some are more serious (I'm closer to becoming Jewish than ever!).

I woke up early this morning for Torah study at the temple. I almost overslept and missed it, and the weekly parsha was a bit boring, but I'm so glad I went. Afterwards, Diane (a lady at the temple who's also working towards becoming Jewish) and I had a real official meeting with the rabbi about converting. We even got to use the rabbi's office, rather than a randomly-selected corner in the social hall, which is where all our previous meetings have been. I said as I was entering, "Ooh, I've never been in the rabbi's office before." Rabbi W: "Me neither!"

I take back everything I said about Rabbi W here. Today we talked for a long time, and I got a lot of the concrete answers about converting that I'd been looking for. I even got my own copy of our prayerbook! Diane works for the temple, and she gave me an old "dog-eared" one that isn't used in services anymore. But the rabbi did recommend me a book called Basic Judaism, and suggest I start picking out a Hebrew name. 1) Um, Rabbi, aren't I beyond the basics yet? 2) I already have a Hebrew name!

Afterwards, I went to Grandma's house to do my laundry, eat lunch, play in her sprinkler water her garden, and clear out some of her spare rooms in preparation for her move. Adam and I packed up several boxes of dead books (mostly romance novels that had been Aunt Carolyn's, and mind-numbingly boring stuff that had been Dad's). It was kinda depressing, because so many of the books were typical Dad, and most of them had inscriptions like To Jake, from Steve, Christmas 1979. Apparently he never got anything but books as gifts. And I still hate the fact that Grandma is moving.

After that, Adam, Eva, Ben (that's right, Ben) and I all piled into Muse Watson and went to the mall to see X-Men: First Class. On the drive there, I remembered some study I read about how the more passengers you have in your car, the greater your chance of having an accident. I felt it, and the fact that I'm still getting over that damned car crash didn't help. I'd never driven with that many people before, traffic was heavy, and we were on a busy street. And I love Eva to death, but she's at that age where many things elicit a loud "Oh my gosh!" or a long laugh from her. (Hmm, maybe now I know how Sara feels.) I was very relieved when I finally got us all to the theater in one piece.

Anyway, about the actual movie. Spoiler Alert! In one word — awesome. No, amazing. No, epic. Even Eva, who's in no way familiar with the X-Men franchise, was blown away. I've had such high hopes for this movie ever since I watched the trailer, and I was not disappointed. Xavier and Magneto were both perfectly written and acted, and I was surprised by now much the movie made me care about the rest of the team too. (We barely knew Darwin, but his death? Just devastating.) As a rule, I never cry at movies, but this one actually made me come close. I've always loved Xavier and Magneto's relationship, and it was sad seeing them bond immediately, and knowing where they would end up later. Especially when Magneto flashed back to his mother lighting the Hanukkah candles, and he and Xavier both started crying.

On a somewhat similar note, on the way there, we were all talking about who our favorite X-Men character was, and I, of course, said mine was Magneto. Ben muttered (because he never talks, he only mutters) something like, "Yeah, because he's a Jew."

Hmph.

No, because he's a charming, witty, sophisticated, and all-around bad-ass villain, and he's been my favorite character ever since I saw the original X-Men movie in theaters (and I saw it in theaters three times) over ten years ago! (And holy crap, does saying that make me feel old.) And besides, I think any X-Men fan would agree that Magneto is "Jewish" only in the most secular sense of the word. It irked me, which made not seem to make sense, since Sara has made much worse comments — and offered to throw me in an oven — but the simple fact is that I'm okay with it from her but not from him (or anyone else). With Sara, I know she's joking. Ben can be, and often is, a jerk.

But I can't complain about anything today. There's a beautiful song called "You Shall Be a Blessing" by the recently-deceased Debbie Friedman (who composed a lot of beautiful Jewish songs) that was performed at services last night. These lyrics have been running through my head all day: L'chi lach [rise up and go] to a place that I will show you / L'chi lach to a land you do not know of. You can hear it, not the best version but the only one I could find, here.

rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)

As most of you probably heard, the world was supposed to come to an end on May 21, 2011. The craziest thing about the would-be rapture was that it all started with this one lone nutjob, and enough people believed him that it became a big deal. There was even a huge billboard warning about the end of days along the I-10. I first saw it on the way back from Purim in Lafayette. Obviously, nothing happened, but it did give me an excuse to listen to "The Man Comes Around" over and over. (Love that song, love Johnny Cash.)

Friday was a No-Good Very Bad Day, for a few different reasons. I was very late for work that morning. I had applied for a job at the place where my sister works and actually, foolishly started looking forward to it, but it looks like I won't get hired. At the temple that night, my Jewish grandfather had told my Jewish grandmother that I was looking for a job, and she bombarded me with all suggestions all through services. She seems to think that since I have many marketable skills -- yes, she obviously knows me really well -- I must not be looking hard enough. Ugh. I ended the day by riding my bike around late at night, in hopes that I might get hit by a car. Obviously, that didn't happen either.

But Torah study was the next morning, and this was one of the first times that I felt like the parsha really spoke to me. It was the last two chapters of Leviticus, and I took it as a lesson about being happy with what you have and a warning against being dominated by fear. ("The sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight. Fleeing as from the sword, they shall fall, though none pursues.") Everybody at the temple was talking about Netanyahu's recent visit to DC and press conference with Obama, to the point that I was surprised we got to the parsha at all.

In other Jew news, I'm starting to feel like I'm banging my head against a wall with Rabbi W. At the most, he's in town for services every other week, and whenever I talk to him about converting, he gives me the same directions every single time (things I've already done, some of them 2-3 times). I'm not sure what to make of this. I know he's a very busy, probably forgetful, and possibly a tad senile old man, but things have been going on in this vein since January, and it's becoming a little frustrating. I'm thinking about contacting the temple's former rabbi, who now lives in Baton Rouge. No doubt that'll be another awkward e-mail to write. But not as awkward as having to ask someone to come to your mikvah.

Grandma is about to sell Aunt Carolyn's old books and CDs, but first, she asked me if I wanted any of them. Haha. Best of Barry Manilow and/or Air Supply, anyone? But I did borrow a few CDs and I'm importing songs one by one into iTunes library right now.

rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

Yesterday one of my coworkers told me that I come across as a Mormon. And even though 1) I have nothing against Mormons, and 2) I put no stock in said coworker's opinions, this is not something you want to hear when you're trying to convert to Judaism. Yesterday I saw the episode of "Sex and the City" where Charlotte converts and puts a mezuzah on her door at the end. I don't know yet if want a mezuzah when I convert or not. (Update: Here's my mezuzah!)

Anyway, I think maybe I came off as Mormon to him because I'm so clean-cut and boring, which is funny because my Mormon friends have more drama than anyone I know. I should've told him that he comes across as a bag of flour.

Back in 2003, shortly after I got my truck, I came across a red-white-and-blue toy donkey while browsing in a second-hand shop. I bought him and named him Alan Roosevelt Moore -- Alan after Al Franken (whom Sara and I got to see in person when he gave a speech at LSU at 2004), Roosevelt after FDR, and Moore after Michael Moore. We called him Moore and sat him the back window of the truck, where he stayed for the next three years. In 2006, Mom accidentally threw Moore away, and I feel a little stupid for saying this, since he was just a stuffed animal, but I was pretty upset over it. (I posted about it here.)

This week, Sara bought me a new, similar red-white-and-blue toy donkey. I don't like this new guy quite as much as Moore -- he is smaller and a bit more cheaply-made -- but I am happy to have an all-American jackass again. I plan to put him in the back window of Muse Watson (my car). After much thought, I named my new donkey Jethro Michael Errant: Jethro after NCIS's Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Michael after my Jewish grandfather, and Errant after "ears like errant wings," a line from GK Chesterton's poem The Donkey. (Yes, it has a Christian theme, but do you know of any other poems celebrating donkies?)

As with Moore, I'm going to call this donkey by his last name, Errant. According to the dictionary, it means 1) deviating from the regular or proper course, erring, straying; 2) journeying or traveling, as a medieval knight in quest of adventures, roving adventurously; 3) moving in an aimless or lightly changing manner: an errant breeze.



Here's a picture of Errant. I scoured through all my old photos, but I don't have one of Moore. :(

Only two new episodes to go in Season 8 of NCIS! From the spoilers and promo photos, it looks like Mike Franks is going to die on Tuesday (Swan Song). I'm kinda dreading it. Mike's not a main character, but I named my car after the actor who plays him, Muse Watson, and will be sad to see him go.

rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)

Here I am back at my laptop, dirty and exhausted but none the worse for wear. I just returned from spending the day biking through Hodges Gardens, which I think left me more sweaty than I've ever been in my entire life! I will post more about that later. For now, I just wanted to share the dream I had last night.

The car crash may have very destroyed all the confidence I had in my driving skills. Last night I had a terrible dream in which I was in another car crash, this one involving several cars, and once again, I was at fault! Ugh! The part worth posting about is that the first thing I did (in the dream) was to ask all the people I had hit if any of them were hurt. None of them were, and when I heard that, I immediately said, "Baruch HaShem." Then the man in the car closest to me asked what I just said. Me: "I said -- woah, what did I just say?"

I think this is a good sign. :)

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