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.