I alluded to how my emotions are going crazy since yesterday on my Facebook page and I’ve got an almost set date for my Orthodox Beit Din and conversion to be completed and with the date happening after Pesach (Passover) and before Lag B’omer I have to look at it as own personal coming out of Mitzrayim (Egypt) just as the Israelites and the most knowledgeable generation did over 3,000 years ago. I’ve studied a lot, I’ve read A LOT, I’ve done a lot to get this conversion completed and I’m READY like really READYYYYYYYYY for it to be completed and to go to mikvah but like every convert there is this stone in my stomach about the Beit Din. Even though I think I know my stuff one never knows the questions that can come up during it and I just hope I don’t answer their questions wrong. Also I was getting emotional over my ex who is going through some tough cancer treatment. We only dated for a mere 6 months or so but we’ve been friends pretty much ever since and to know that he is in pain and trying to act strong around me when I saw him last night was just too much. Seeing how much weight he’s lost and hearing him say how winded he gets and how tired he is and wants to do everything on his own and doesn’t want help is tough for me because I want to help him and be there for him also. I just let it overwhelm me and then when he left I’d when I got the email from my rabbi about the dates for the Beit Din and it sent me over the edge. How does one react when you see a cancer survivor dealing with a new bought of cancer and then getting the great news of your Beit Din being convened? It’s tough and well the tears just came out I couldn’t hold them back! That ugly cry too not the nice somewhat pretty or contrallable tears like the ones that your whole body just shakes and moves uncontrollably. It was bound to happen and no one was there to witness that type of crying thank G-d, but my ex did see me cry and not be able to stop it. When he went home from visiting me at my hotel on a layover as much as I tried to hold it back so he wouldn’t see i couldn’t the tears just came and I couldn’t talk. So please y’all pray, daven, say Tehillim and ask HaShem, G-d or who ever your higher being may be that he be healed quickly and completely and that I get through my Beit Din smoothly. Have a great week ahead and a meaningful Pesach.
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.
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.
Yeah Yeah, I know I said I would post more frequently but, my life is really pretty boring NORMALLY, but this past month has been INCREDIBLE and Hashem is the one who made it all happen and Instagram. If any of you follow me on Instagram or my business page on Facebook, y’all already know what I’m gonna talk about, if not hold onto your seats cause its gonna get wild on here.
First great thing that happened, I follow a lot of kosher chefs on Instagram and one happens to have a radio show, I commented on one of her posts because now in all 3 major NYC there is Fresh, Good, Kosher food available for purchase. AMAZING right? Well being that I love to cook, eat (kosher only) I know I’ve kept y’all out of the loop. Anyway I commented that I was a flight attendant that keeps kosher and literally within an hour I had an email from her and an appointment to chat with her. We finally chatted a few days later and we set up a time the next day for me to be on her show. Let me just say I was nervous as anything but she is such an amazing host and so easy to talk to too, my time on the show went by so quickly and I enjoyed doing it so much. You can listen to me here.
So that was amazing thing one, amazing thing two is a little more crazy. As y’all know in May it’ll be a year since I took the plunge and finished my journey to become a Jew, I know I’ve said it before and I really have become more observant in that year and with that I’ve been thinking about doing another conversion. I don’t need to hear the bad things, “Oh you don’t think your Reform conversion is good enough,” or “But they won’t accept you because you’re gay.” or “It’s so strict.” Let me just start by saying yes, it is strict but I am already doing most daily things already, I do think and know that my Reform conversion is enough and luckily, hopefully, I’ve found a supportive rabbi that is going to sponsor me. Also the community and shul that I’ve been going to, everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I was invited for Shabbat dinner at someone’s house who I had just met the shabbat before, When I was upfront about my conversion their response was “Absolutely no problem, not only was my conversion interesting to everyone there, my job dominated the conversation as well. Being a kippah clad and Observant Flight Attendant is really a conversation piece. Not only was it shabbat dinner but someone in the community had a new baby boy and in the Orthodox world the friends or family of the new father throw what’s called a Shalom Zachar, basically just another reason to party. Keep in mind I and the other 2 male guests didn’t know the new father nor his family that was throwing the party only our host knew them. We all walked in and it was like we were all part of the family. Get a drink, sit, sing, eat, here’s a shot, eat, There was cake and candy and alcohol (everything under the sun) Single Malt Scotch, this was my drink of choice, and High end Tequila, which I did not partake in, I don’t do well with tequila. The next day, Shabbat morning, I ran into my dinner host and his family and one of the female guests, who also happens to be new to the community and as it turns out is from New Jersey as well and had to do a sort of Beit Din, because her mother converted and when she passed her conversion certificate couldn’t be found. She also happens to be outgoing and started introducing me to more and more people. One thing led to another I was being invited to lunch at the Rabbi’s house, and a Purim Seuda at another family’s house. Needless to say I’ve been very warmly welcomed into the community and look forward to moving into the area and really become a member of it.
It’s been a while since I wrote anything, anywhere. Its been an interesting past few months to say the least. My stepfather passed away in late August suddenly, and with it being in the month of Elul and in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and all that seriousness, I did something that no one could have seen coming, I apologized and tried to mend fences with my estranged mother and sister. While I’m not in their business all day every day I know that I’ve done the biggest part, it’s something right?
I’ve also been mulling with becoming more observant in my Jewishness, maybe becoming modern orthodox or more conservative. It’s only an idea and hasn’t gone anywhere so far I’m still in the researching phase of looking for a suitable rabbi that I could work with in my area. Now that it’s out there in black and white though it may go somewhere. I’ve been trying to get my schedule to where I’m off on Friday and Saturday so I can be shomer shabbos or at least at home. I’ve been going to the conservative shul more and more also and I like it. I forget if I mentioned this in a previous post or not but the first time I went to that shul I was given the privilege of carry the Torah around before they read from it on Saturday morning, and shortly after that I had to use my Flight Attendant skills, when an older woman passed out and I was sitting right near her, there was a doctor of course but I actually knew how to deal with the incident better than he did. Another time I also got to read the prayer before and after someone else read from the Torah, that hasn’t even happened at the shul I did my conversion through. I haven’t been going to that shul quite as often, one because now it’s so far from me and second, being that I trying to be more observant I don’t want to be getting home at 9:30-10 pm on shabbat. The rabbi that did my conversion called me a few weeks ago about an opportunity for me, for all the work that I’ve done with the shul in the past year and with the Pride Parade, him and his wife donated money to SOJOURN, an LGBT Jewish group in the South, that was one of the Grand Marshall’s for the Pride Parade this past year, and gave me his 2 tickets to their premiere event in March for Purim, Purim off Ponce. An amazing event that I went to last year, maybe this year I’ll meet someone, G-d Willing.
I’ve also had some trouble with my teeth and finally man’ed up and faced my fears of the dentist and have been getting things taken care of, and I’ve actually used up all my benefits for this year and its only the 23rd and I still have some more work to get done so guess who gets to pay out of pocket for work that I totally hate and am afraid of. ME!!! Although they give me great drugs to ease my nervousness and high strength pain pills and lots and LOTS of Nitrous Oxide during the procedures.
I’m also taking a more proactive role in marketing and getting JetSet Organics out there. with Social Media, postcards, and with showing the products off to my co-workers. If you haven’t checked out my site please do mkt.com/jetset-organics I take out all the hard work of going organic in your skin care. You can also like my Facebook page at Facebook.com/jetsetorganics
For the secular New Year I went to Warsaw, Poland. While its a cool city the dead of winter is not the best time to go, I’d love to go again and go to the concentration camps but in spring or summer. I’ll also need to rent a car or go with a tour because they aren’t near big cities and transport isn’t that good. I saw some very interesting Communist era things and the Warsaw Ghetto and the new Polish Jewish Museum built on the remnants of one of the buildings in the Ghetto. And of course I went to a gay bar there, which surprisingly wasn’t packed, apparently Warsaw doesn’t have a big gay scene.
Other than all this it’s been boring in my life, commuting, working, coming home and being with myself. I’m going to try and do a post like at least once a month maybe more.
So this should have posted in September, better late then never.
Again, its been a while since I have written a post and quite a lot has happened. As the title suggests I am was in the shloshim, or 30 days, of mourning. My stepfather passed away suddenly on August 21. It’s definitely been an emotional roller coaster, from “doing shiva” differently than prescribed and being somewhat estranged from my immediate family. I didn’t sit shiva per se, I did cut a piece of clothing after hearing of his death, and it actually happened on a Friday afternoon, so technically I was not able to mourn for a full 25 hours and it was somewhat weird sitting in shul participating but not fully present. I have said the Mourners Kaddish every morning but not in a synagogue or with a minyan. Yeah I know I’m not doing it as prescribed and I don’t have the whole community and other mourners to lean on but when I travel every week and normally stay near an airport where there isn’t a shul close by, you gotta do what you gotta do and saying it alone is better than not saying it all. Right? His death got me thinking about what it means to be religious and observant in a secular fast paced world. I have decided to start laying t’fillin. I ordered a set and they are on the way from Israel hopefully they will be here soon. I actually am really looking forward to doing this mitzvah.