My first time hosting Shabbat lunch, was in no better terms, AMAZING, FUN, EXHILARATING. I don’t know if I said it in my last post but I was very very very nervous about hosting people for lunch. While right now I’m not allowed to say the brachas over Bread (Ha’Motzi) or Kiddush, its kind of a bummer but one day soon I will be and trust me the party is already being thought about and the money is being saved. My friend who is so kind and willing to help me during this process said both the blessings fantastically and I’m eternally grateful for his continued help. I had seven, yup 7 people for lunch, all people I know and who have become close friends since my decision to join the community and begin my conversion. I bought a bright white table cloth (which now has a stain) from wine but it’ll be reminder of this first time and a challah board.
I follow the Sephardic custom of pulling the challah apart instead of cutting it. And I also bought Netilyat Yedayim towel just for Shabbat.
The wine was flowing, and so was the water, the laughter, the conversation, the joyfulness went straight to my heart and soul. I loved having people over and I hope it showed on my face while my guests were here. I did thank them after Shabbat ended on Facebook so it’s public. I can’t wait to host again which will be this week.
Lunch was Ropa Vieja, a Cuban dish that is my absolute favorite and it was over brown rice. This was it before it was cooked.
I also made a parve Chocolate “not so mousse” Mousse cake. It doesn’t show well in photos but it’s scrumptious.
Some say an orthodox conversion is hard, too demanding, extreme and while it may be; my experience so far is not that. I met with my rabbi last week to officially begin my conversion. And while I was asked to do things I’m not already doing like hosting people for Shabbat or setting time frame to learn Hebrew fluently. Nothing has been too extra ordinary, I was told by my rabbi that he wouldn’t delay my Beit din as long as I did the work and showed improvement. I didn’t delay, this week I’m hosting Shabbat lunch this week at my place and I’m studying Hebrew as much as I can during the week. Although a wrench was thrown in to my plans when I received an email from my rabbi, “If your planning on hosting Shabbat make sure you have someone from the community light your stove/oven.” Ok while you maybe saying to yourself wait what you keep kosher, your kitchen’s kosher, your hosting Shabbat lunch what’s the problem with cooking? Because I’m becoming Jewish and not halachically, technically Jewish yet cooking certain foods for Shabbat need to be “done” by a Jew. Sure, I said, absolutely no problem, why because I’ve met some amazing people and have become close to several, but one person in particular has become my new bestie. We normally hang out before Shabbat starts and he has been coming to my shul, walking 3 miles, on Shabbat. With out any issues he turned everything on, and plugged everything in for me. Everything was all set for Shabbat lunch. Stay tuned for what was my first Shabbat event.
As I’ve written about before, I’ve become more observant and the next step I’m taking is a Modern Orthodox conversion. I now live within the local Jewish community and inside the eruv, I go to a ModOx shul and most of my friends with in the community are very accepting. I’ve said it before and I say it again the community I’ve moved into is utterly amazing. Every thing a new person to a community going through a conversion needs is here. People that are willing to answer every dumb question or teach you the song way of benching on Shabbat, even letting you do Ha’Motzi at their Shabbat lunch table and wanting me to lead benching, Treating me like the “certified” I soon will be. Seriously haven’t encountered any bad instances with the people. Now davening ahh that’s a different story but I’m sure that at some point in every converts story they’ve got at least one story about having to “out” themselves as not officially Jewish in the Orthodox shul. Mine happened 2 Erev Shabbat’s ago; picture it July 4th weekend 2016, everyone is on vacation and its time to daven Mincha, I’m already running late, I show up at shul at 7:10 thinking its started already, NOPE people are standing outside, looking for all those who are walking slowly because of the stifling heat here in the south. I walk into shul and they’re counting 7, 8, 9, only need one more person says the gabbai, I’m number 9 and I have to walk up to him and say No you actually need 2 more because I’m not halachicallly Jewish, my reform conversion doesn’t count. I see the angst on the gabbai’s face not wanting to “out” me but really having no choice but too. Finally 3 men show up all at once and MINYAN. But it’s too late for me not to be outed. I don’t care because only a few people didn’t know and they happen to be people I have interacted much with. I will tell you that that and the following Shabbat’s have definitely strengthened my resolve to get the conversion process under way. That process will hopefully be started this month and my Beit Din will be convened so I can see how long this all going to take. I’ll keep everyone posted and I’ll definitely be keeping at least a written journal as well as this blog.