Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shana Tova!

I realize I haven’t written anything here in about two weeks. I’ve been meaning to, but I have been busy. Expect that a lot. Sorry. I wish I could say I was better about blogging/writing in general but I can’t. Anyway, let’s get to the main event:

Rosh Hashanah

      Thursday I got up and out of the house later than I had planned, I lost my metro card and had to spend another 30 bucks (there goes my savings), the trains were acting funky and I had to get off one and on another and I got to the synagogue and showed my ticket, went upstairs, and sighed. In front of me were at least 100 people, most wearing Kippot and Prayer shawls. The Rabbi, Cantor and I believe the former presidents of the synagogue were walking with the Torahs and I smiled. I was home. I quietly sat down and watched the service. I still didn’t know what they were saying most of the time, as I don’t speak Hebrew, but I was fine with that this time around. I sat and I watched, and I listened and I took it all in. I experienced it as an outsider, yes, yet I had never felt less like an outsider in a Synagogue. Though I didn’t sing with the congregation, as I didn’t know the words or the songs, I still felt a part of what was going on around me.
       When it was the choir’s turn to sing, we all gathered around the podium on the Bima and we started singing. It felt so good to be singing in a choir again. I have always been a choir girl and it always brought me such joy, but I hadn’t been in a choir for a couple of years and I missed it. But here I was- singing in my high soprano register that I had not properly used in a long time (I had been working on developing my chest voice and Broadway-sound the last few years and sadly haven’t had much of a chance to sing in my soprano range). By this point of the day the sun had moved and it was shining through the stained glass windows and it was so beautiful and I was so happy I almost cried. It was such an amazing feeling.
          I talked to one of my fellow choir members who told me that she had recently converted and gave me the information about the course. Apparently, for conversion I don’t go through a specific synagogue but “The Center for Conversion to Judaism.” Yeah, there’s a center specifically for conversion.

            Before Rosh Hashanah I was kind of freaking out. Well, more than kind of. It occurred to me that I was actually going to start the conversion process. Here it was, after four years (at least) of planning for and waiting, I was plunging headfirst (as is my style) into the biggest, most life-changing event of my life and so, of course, I freaked out. Conversion is supposed to be a year of intensive study. What if it takes up all my time and I can’t pursue anything else (I’m also an aspiring singer/actress, like everyone else in New York City)? Will I have time to do both, or will I have to sacrifice one for the other? Could I really pick one, if it came to that?

            Needless to say, I blew things just a wee bit out of proportion (as is also my style). Then I just dialed it back, and I talked to my friend who had given me the info on the Conversion center. She said that the class was one hour, one night a week. I calmed down. That was completely doable. I didn’t have to give up my entire life to convert. However, I’ve never converted before, so it may turn out to be more than I bargained for, or take more time than I planned for, and if that’s the case, I’ll adjust accordingly, but why freak out now? As the old saying goes “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Something I have to remind myself at least once a week.

            I live with passion. I throw myself into everything I do. I’m either 110% in something, or I’m not in it at all. In a lot of ways that’s a good thing, but it makes life difficult in situations like this where my love and my attention is somewhat divided and I want to throw myself 110% into multiple things at the same time. But I freak out for a little while, and then I calm down and figure it out and everything goes back to normal.

            I’m also going to fast for Yom Kippur this year. I’m nervous, truth be told, because I’ve never fasted before. I don’t do well not eating. I get shaky and spacey and nauseous and I will be standing on the Bima singing for who knows how long. What if I faint, or get sick? And here again, I was worried about something that didn’t even happen yet. I talked to the Cantor and she said that, if it comes to that, if it gets really bad and I’m in danger of being sick, I can eat or drink something. The point of the fast, she said, is not to make yourself sick, but to use the absence of food and water to bring you to a higher level of prayer, in a sense, bring you closer to God (now, I might have misunderstood her, I am not meaning to put words in her mouth here, That’s just what I got from when we talked. If that’s not really how it is in Judaism, my apologies.) But it made me feel better.  

          I want to do something for God. Something in return. Every day I look around and where I am and what I’m doing and He has played a big part in that. He’s always there for me and I really want to do something for Him. I want to use this fast as a way of expressing my love and gratitude to God. And also because, as I’ve said before, if I’m in something, I will be 110% in it, or at least as in it as possible.

So that’s about where I’m at right now. It’s good. I’m happy. I’m emotionally pretty spent, because it’s been so up-and-down since I got here, but I am happy.

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