I’m back and I’ve got exciting news….

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.

Being Holy and gay

This past week’s parashat (Torah portion) was all about the Holiness commandments, love your neighbor as yourself, honor your parents, leaving the corners of your field untouched so they may be harvested by the poor and the visitor, and then the 12 forbidden sexual relations. These verses get twisted and turned and used by the right wing to show how homosexuality is an abomination. As someone who is converting and gay, let me say that Reform shul I go to is very accepting as a whole but especially the Rabbi. The reform movement’s newest initiative is reaching out to the gay Jewish community as well as the broader gay community. I’m going to take a very liberal stance on the verses, because a) times have changed and b) I can. Homosexuality has been redefined, even since I have been born, it has been shown that being gay is not a choice, nor can it be reversed. The Torah and the mitzvoth that we follow have been changed as well, over the millennia and some are not even followed because we do not have a Temple in Jerusalem.

The following is a response I made to a comment on my Rabbi’s Facebook page regarding his sermon on Parshat Kedoshim (5774)
Have you seen any Romans or Babylonians walking on the street today? No I didn’t think so, think about where those societies are, GONE, all except Judaism. The Torah is a living document that changes with society’s needs. Do you follow every commandment that’s outlined in the Torah? I know I don’t but I try my hardest to follow the ones that pertain to my life in the 21st century. Societies change, new discoveries are made in the sciences and the humanities, perceptions have changed as well. The 12 forbidden sexual relations with exception of one are all choices, the one that isn’t is Homosexuality. It has been proven by academics and society that it is not a choice and that one is born gay. Yes I am gay, no I didn’t choose to be gay, you are straight and you didn’t choose that either. The Torah does not speak about sexual acts it only speaks of how one shall lie with another man. I have yet to hear or meet a man that was born with a vagina, therefore I cannot lie with a man in the same way as with a woman. One can choose to have sex with a beast, or with one’s fathers’ wife or one’s uncles’ wife. You asked who makes the decisions on which commandments are valid and which ones aren’t, here’s my answer to that question; SOCIETY. Not to long ago people owned slaves the Torah has a commandment about paying your slave his earning on the day he earned them and not to hold them back, do you own a slave? I don’t think so because society says it’s illegal.
As Jews we are still a light upon the nations even though some of us are converts, some born into it, some are black, some are Asian, some are gay and some are straight, we are that light by being accepting, understanding, different from the world around us.

I think that what goes on behind the closed doors of my bedroom is for myself, My partner, and Hashem to know about and I don’t try flaunt or push my sexuality on others, just like I don’t care what goes on in a straight couples bedroom.

Marry me and fly for free! (Well almost free)

One of the perks of my job is the generous discounts I receive on other airlines. At the Passover Seder we say “Next year in Jerusalem” for me that can be a reality every year, any time of year. I went to Israel for a second time, last minute, and when I say last minute I booked it at 10:30 am and the flight left JFK at 11:00 pm the same day. I went by myself, I needed to get away and I had vacation again and we were supposed to get snow again in Atlanta, where I live, and well I had a week off, and why not. El Al was nice enough to give me a seat, after many questions and stare downs with security, I was on my way to the Holy Land. I needed to be in a place where a) everything is kosher, b) I can wear a kippah at any time of the day and not feel like I’m being stared at or laughed at, c) I needed to go to the Kotel (Western Wall), d) I needed warm weather. I said in an earlier post that I wanted to convert years ago, and I didn’t go into detail, nor did I pursue it, but watching the news during the second intifada, and watching kids my age being killed for riding on a bus or sitting in a Sbarro, or dancing in a club, hit home with me and even at a young-ish age I wanted to be Jewish. I listened to a podcast, when iPods were still huge, about a family living in a settlement after they had just made aliyah, and dealing with the new environment they were thrown into. I felt sorrow, sadness and disbelief that it was happening.
I had the chance to visit some of those places hit by suicide bombers, that I saw on tv back in the day, in Tel Aviv and afterwards I went to the beach and let my feelings float away.
I also spiritually needed to go to the Kotel. I needed to go to the holiest site in Judaism and pray, that I was going down the right path. I felt a sense of peace come over me the first time I went there and I wanted and got that feeling again. I was questioning everything I was doing and needed to be reassured by Hashem that I was doing the right thing. It was on a bar mitzvah day and people where excited in one corner and in another people were praying and somber and quite. It was even more “emotional” this time because in my heart I feel that I am jewish, it is my holiest site, these are my people I’m praying with. It was surreal to say the least to look at the Kotel and think I’m part of this history.

My own way

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS MY VIEW, ALWAYS CONSULT your Rabbi on halachah.

Some people are probably not going to agree with me and some may say I’m not doing it right, but thia is all about how I do Judaism my way.

I’m not becoming orthodox or conservative or reconstrutionist or independent, I am unreformadox! Because I am a Flight Attendant and airport food and most hotels I stay in are not kosher I don’t keep kosher. I do however follow kashrut and do not mix dairy and meat, I don’t eat pork, or shell fish anymore, but I do search for and normally only buy food that has a hechsher on it. Also my roommate who is not becoming Jewish with me cooks in the same kitchen, kashering it would be impossible.
I say the Shma when I wake up and before I fall asleep, I don’t lay t’fillin, at least not yet, and I’m working on saying the Amidah. But I do wear a kippah for the most part, daily, I don’t wear one at work. I read in some book about Judaism that most jews will answer a question about not doing a mitzvah by saying “not yet,” and I find that it is the perfect answer. Because something may not resonate with that person at this time but maybe tomorrow or the next month it will. I started out only wearing the kippah that was in the box at the door of the shul, but now I look at it as part of me, when I don’t wear it, I feel like I’m missing something. I went from owning none to now owning 5 different colored suede ones, plus several small blue and white ones, and a green and yellow big-ish one, and also one that a girl in my conversion class hand knitted for me, using organic cotton.
Maybe one day in the future I will lay t’fillin or wear tzit-tzit, but not right now.
Since I am the only one in my house that is becoming Jewish, I light the candles on Shabbat and yontif’s. It makes me slow down for a few minutes each week and helps me get into the Shabbat spirit, if you haven’t done it because you think only women do it, try it. I also make challah on friday. Although my roommate isnt becoming Jewish she sure does love the challah. I have to give a lot of credit to Jewish women who work full time, have kids and are shabbat observant. I tried it one shabbat, in the winter. I cleaned the house, cooked dinner, made challah, did laundry and ironed clothes for services, lit the candles all before the sun went down. Man, I needed, no deserved a few extra glasses of wine. I try to do shabbat as much in the sanctity of the day of rest as I can, but old habits die hard. I don’t spend any money from friday at sundown til saturday at sundown. I try and refrain from things I normally do during the week, like working out, I wont go to the gym but I’ll take a walk through the neighborhood or park and walk slowly so I have time to think about things. I do use electricity but very sparingly, and if I use my iPad or phone I only read Jewish things. I try not to look at email’s and try to limit my Facebook time to 30 minute for all 25 hours of Shabbat. I don’t typically work on shabbat, I have had to and let me tell you I felt different and depressed and it just put me in a bad mood. I typically end my work week on thursday and have the whole weekend off. But not every one can do that I am just lucky and blessed to have a job that allows me to be this flexible, which brings me to my next topic.
Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, it is a huge part of Judaism and I am only just getting involved in doing it. With winter finally coming to end although yesterday and today would’t say that, more outdoor programs and volunteer opportunities become available, I will certainly be doing some of them.

The Beginning

I’ll start at the beginning, I’m a 32, I’m a flight attendant for a major carrier and I’m converting to Judaism.  I grew up near a huge Orthodox Jewish community, in a semi religious (Christian) house, but i was always interested in Judaism. I went on to live with out much religion in my life because I’m gay and well most western religions frown upon that. It wasn’t until I went away on vacation with 3 friends to Israel. All the curiosity came rushing back. I again went on living life just as I always had, but something a Haredi woman said to us as she was helping us find our way back to the sherut in Jerusalem would always pop into my head every few months, “In Judaism we do what’s right even if its hard.” On that visit I gave myself time to think about pursuing becoming Jewish. I did some web searches right after I returned but, then forgot about it because life happened. But almost a year after that vacation, out of the blue I started looking at some websites about Judaism, and one thing led to another I was on Amazon, downloading some book about Judaism, and next thing ya know I’m going into a synagogue, nervous as hell, and sweating bullets. I found a reform shul near my house, did some more research on protocols and etiquette and what to expect during the service, I enjoyed it a lot and felt like I had “come home.” Although I was still sweating bullets I felt a sense of peace come over me. Well since that first visit right before Thanksgivakkah, I’ve missed maybe one or 2 friday night services, saturday mornings well, I’m still working on that. I liked this shul (synagogue) so much that this is where I’ve decided to do my conversion class. Even after getting “called out” by one of the rabbi’s for being new and being there by myself in front of everyone on a friday night, and being “told” to sit with
some older women in the front row, I still went back and still continue to go back.
Thats enough for now, hope you enjoy this blog, following me on my journey, and feel free to ask me any questions.