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June 17, 2014


Amos Oz, A Tale of Love and Darkness (I think that's the title) would be my suggestion, and, if you're up to it, A.B. Yeshoshua's Mr. Mani.

re: Yom Ha'atzma'ut, I boycott that one. The obsession of Reform and Conservative Jewry in the US with what I find to be a facile Israel patriotism is something that I've never been able to stomach easily. I think as a Jew one is obligated to be informed, to know more than others, and not to participate in ways that make things worse (i.e., don't give to certain charities) but I do not believe that one is obligated to support Israel in an any way. That makes me a bad convert in the eyes of some, I'm sure.

Yom Ha'Shoah -- this is a hard one. There are communities that really sort of degenerate into Holocaust worship, and one has to watch it. This is the holiday on which the commandment in the Passover Haggadah that in every generation one must consider it as if G-d had freed one, oneself, from Mitzra'im is most difficult for me.

This is so interesting. I read Exodus in high school and it formed the basis of much of my opinion about Israel for a long long time. And of course, it is only one particular perspective. I would love to learn more, too.

Have you ever read Lauren Winner's "Mudhouse Sabbath"? Of course she is coming from the opposite perspective you have as a Jew who became Episcopalian, but the book is basically about Jewish practices she misses as a Christian; I really enjoyed it.

We used to do a Yom Ha'Shoah service at GTS with a synagogue nearby and JTS students. It was a simple candle lighting service and very moving. Really got me thinking about the importance of remembering.

Looking forward to hearing more about your journey.

Before I visited my current synagogue for the first time, I had done a thorough search of all of the Reform synagogues' websites in the area, and one of my chief criteria was what they had to say about Israel. Any synagogue that assumed an uncomplicatedly positive relationship with the state of Israel was immediately crossed off my list. The synagogue that I now consider "mine" was the one that said that the congregation includes a lot of different attitudes toward Israel and that they've all committed to respecting one another despite those differences. That first visit I made, when chatting with the rabbi afterward during the oneg, I told him that wrestling with Israel was one of the things that most worried me about the very idea of converting to Judaism.

But what I've realized is that I need to further complicate my own attitude toward Israel, which is what has prompted some of my reading this spring.

Servetus, I've just requested both _A Tale of Love and Darkness_ and _Mr. Mani_ from my public library. Thanks for the suggestions!

I think it used to bug me that I didn't feel the same connection to Israel as everyone else -- until I realized that "everyone else" doesn't have the same relationship to Israel, either. There are ultra-orthodox Jews who are opposed to the existence of the state, and that made me feel better somehow. And I agree, if one's thinking about converting one definitely have to engage in ways that muddy the categories one has.

I think "A Pigeon and a Boy" might be good to read about Israel.
(I'm just catching up on the blog, haven't read it for awhile).

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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