About This Blog


About the Author


Age: Definitely past 40

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Spiritual Home Base: Central Reform Congregation

Religious Background: A brief but intense affiliation with Unitarian Universalism from ’03 to ’08. Otherwise none.

Drop Me a Line! shimonides at gmail.com

Why This Blog?

Choosing a Jewish life is a very intense, very emotional process. Not a single aspect of your waking existence — from getting out of bed in the morning to the rhythm of the workday — is left unaffected. Even the moon looks different, marking as it does the major points of passage in the calendar of Jewish observance.

If you’re the only would-be Jew in your family, as I was at the beginning, it can also be lonely at times. And if your journey is outside the Orthodox world, as mine obviously is, it can be marked by intense moments of self-doubt as you try to find your own way through the tangled spectra of traditional Jewish observance versus assimilation.

There’s no reason to think these things shouldn’t be as they are, but if you’re pathologically self-conscious and self-censoring, as I am, they can trap you inside your own head. Writing for an audience, however small, is about the only thing that will rescue you.

All the better, then, if this writing helps Jews born into the tradition to understand the struggles and joys of an adult conversion. Even more so if it helps people on the conversion path feel a little less lonely.

But It’s Not All About Me!

Besides regular dispatches from the conversion path, I also post content that touches on my own interests. To name a few…

  • Emerging Jewish Identities:
    The growing and vibrant presence of African and African-American Jews, Jews by choice, out GLBT Jews, the Reform movement in Israel
  • Innovation in Jewish Communal Life:
    Creative efforts to revitalize synagogue life in the United States, re-imagine and re-integrate traditional observance in progressive Judaism, bring equality and inclusion into traditional communities, and bring Jewish values into the majority culture
  • Gutsy, Progressive Engagement with Sacred Texts:
    Torah, Torah, Torah! Exposing and exploring the spiritual genius of Jewish textual study.
  • Beyond the Headlines and Battle Lines in Israel and Palestine:
    Bearing witness to the human cost of political failure on both sides, learning about efforts at non-violent engagement, and progressive political movements in both communities

Comments Welcome! But!

Okay. I am very cognizant of what awaits a Reform convert, especially a married gay one,  in the Orthodox world and in parts of Conservative Judaism. I am well aquainted with the conflict and bitterness over the Reform movement’s choices on matters of traditional observance, interfaith marriages, and patrilineal descent.

Online fora are an easy venue for venting feelings on both sides of these disagreements. Before you comment, please take a moment to consider what brought you here and what you hope to contribute.

If you feel that you need to be a channel for unsolicited halakhic disapproval of other people’s choices, please consider directing your energy to some other forum.

If you feel a need to voice objections to traditional Judaism in anything but respectful, first-person statements, please accept my sincere hope that you find the right venue — somewhere else.


11 Responses to About This Blog

  1. Tracey says:

    Thank you for this. I was actually in that Jonah bible class with you. I have been seriously considering exploring Reform Judaism. I am feeling that UU just isn’t the best fit anymore.

  2. eng4820 says:

    Hello Tracey! So good to hear from you, and I’m glad this blog is helping you in your explorations. Drop me a line if you’d like to come to CRC services anytime. All our best!

  3. Rabbi Green says:

    Wow, Shimonides, this is a great blog and wonderful mitzvah to openly share your journey. I’m going to follow you myself as well as commend this blog to those contemplating conversion as well as partners planning an interfaith marriage. You are so thoughtful. I am most appreciative. Claire Green, Rabbi, Philadelphia

  4. Cheryl Whitlock says:

    My husband and I have been reading and learning about Judaism for the last ten years. Although it has taken this much time, we have discussed and are seriously ready to go through the conversion process..We live in Alton IL. we do have a small synagogue that we have attended but they do not offer conversion classes. We have been given the name of one person, but I am trying to listen to different opinions, before I make such a choice. If you could offer me any advice it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • eng4820 says:

      Hi Cheryl-

      I’m so glad you wrote! The Reform communities in our region offer shared conversion classes that bring in people from all over, even as far away as Cuba, MO, in one case. They generally start up in the Fall. Our community, CRC, which you’ve probably heard of, has drop-in classes on one Saturday each month. Drop me a line at shimonides at gmail.com if you’d like to talk!

      Wishing you both all the best,

  5. Rebecca says:

    Hello Michael!!!

    I just found your site via Black, Jewish and Gay’s blogroll. How crazy is that! Well anyway, I will definitely enjoy reading your blog.


  6. Keith says:

    Shalom and Hello from New Zealand! I have just found your blog and am very interested in it for a couple of reasons. One, I am exploring the Jewish faith in the Union for Progressive Judaism tradition and two, I am also a gay man. My background is Christian however of recent times I have discovered that my surname is German/Jewish and want/need to explore this exciting journey of Judaism. What this faith tradition is showing/teaching me is quite dynamic so far. I have been attending a local temple for a few months and it has been very enriching for me. So, thank you for your blog and I shall continue to look at it on a regular basis.

  7. Pingback: Conversion Sources | Toni's Journey to Judaism

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