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.

Shloshim

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.

Counting the Omer and more

Pesach is behind us, mourning is with us now and Lag B’Omer is on the horizon, and so are Bar b que’s and hair cuts.  This year I cleaned my house for Passover and refrained from eating chametz for all of Passover.  Seven whole days of no bread, no crackers, pretzels, flour, pasta or rice.  I don’t know how I did it especially flying for 4 days the chol ha’moed, but I did and I survived.  Now we’re 24 days past Passover and in just a week it’ll be Lag B’Omer and we’ll be celebrating and bbq’ing up a storm and cutting ones hair and SHAVING. Oh I can’t wait to shave, 24 days of not shaving and I have a new respect for those hairy men, you know the ones who have a 5 o’clock shadow at noon. I’m so glad that I don’t grown facial hair in hours.  The first seven days were bearable but week 2 stunk, my face itched like crazy and was all red because I had been itching it, week 3 has been ok some itching here and there but it doesn’t look scraggly anymore and only a week left and I can’t wait to get rid of it. Now I know most “reform” Jews don’t follow the custom of not cutting one’s hair or not shaving but I wanted too this year to see if I found meaning it.  I have found meaning in and will probably do it again next year.  But I just hope next year it won’t itch so much.

I have also decided to leave my current living situation and be on my own. It’s a big move, not with belongings, but emotionally.  I’ve lived with my current roommate for a total of 8 years. We’ve both grown, we’ve been through hell and back.  Fights, hugs, crying, laughing, epidurals, severe back pain, boob jobs, quitting smoking, boyfriends, fiancées, a merger at work and almost a bankruptcy.  Some were from me and some were from her.  8 years is a long time, a lot of memories and stories.  It’s going to be hard and who knows what the future brings, all I know is in a month I’ll be living on my own for the first time in my life. 33 years is really long.  In 33 years I’ve never been on my own, I’ve always had someone living with me. From my parents and sister to 9 other roommates when I first started flying to now just one and soon none.  It’s scary and exciting at the same time.

Also since summer is almost here, that means I’ve been on my conversion journey well over a year.  Now I know it’s technically not that long but I’m talking about the class one takes while studying to convert.  Today I sent my autobiography to my family, the one I talked about in my last post.  I’ve received only good things back from them and I’m so thankful to Hashem that I have such an accepting and understanding family. As much as I don’t speak to my immediate family (mom, sister, stepdad)  when I send them something important they are supportive.  My aunts and cousins are and have always been amazing especially since my relationship with my immediate family is no longer. And of course my friends are my chosen family and are there for me always. I also set up an appointment to have the conversation with my rabbi to make sure he and I are on the same page and to make sure he thinks I’m ready.  For some reason that was harder than letting my family read my auto biography, which it shouldn’t have been.  With my work schedule, and the ending of the semester for class study, tonight was essentially my last class. But a new issue arose when I spoke with my rabbi tonight,  next week the community mikvah closes while it gets rebuilt and renamed and so far there isn’t a replacement available from the orthodox community for the non-orthdox community to use.  So I need to either have to hope an orthodox mikvah is made  available or I have to wait until September for the new one to be finished.  It’s a tough decision and one I hope Hashem will help with.

I know I kept my Hebrew names from you in my last post, so without further ado, they are Eitan Menachem.

Purim and its Aftermath 

Again I’ve fallen behind on blogging,  it’s been crazy around here,  my business has been picking up see me on mkt.com/JetSet-Organics and Facebook at Facebook.com/Jetsetorganics.  And now that I’m based in Denver it takes 2 days out of every week that I’m flying back and forth to Atlanta.  I’m getting down to theend of my classes for my conversion, I’ve submitted my “auto-biography” to my rabbi which he’s already read and responded that it was a great piece.  I will share it in a few days I need to sort some stuff out with my family to keep them informed about my choices. I’ve chosen my Hebrew names, yep plural, cause I’m non committal and like 2 names.  Which I will also reveal in a few days as well.

I went to 2 different Purim parties this year, one sponsored by an orthodox young professional group and the other by the LGBT group here in Atlanta.  The orthodox sponsored one was interesting, we all know you’re supposed to here Megillah Esther twice once at night once the next morning.  Well the rabbi in charge said the Megillah, which is quite lengthy, in 21 minutes, that included booing Haman’s name, it was also held in a brand new brewery that is making some interesting brews, but isn’t kosher, it’s cool though. But it was surprisingly packed probably around 60 people. The second party was held the Saturday after Purim so no Megillah reading but it was also a fundraiser for the group and had almost 400 people attend. Open bar and everyone is gay or lesbian with acrobats and clowns, holy Moses. The clown was kinda freaky and I’m not gonna lie I dint really get “her” show. Yes she was a drag queen I think.  Any way I met someone during the party and we hung out after the partying  we went to a club to dance and when I suggested going somewhere quieter he grabbed my hand and we left and went to his house. We talked for a while and then I went home,  we both liked each other at least that’s what I thought until he said, the next day, I’m dating someone but he’s in Israel and I’m leaving next Monday to go figure things out with him and I’ll be back in a month. Really!!!!!!  All I could say was ok well take care of that and when you get back call me and we’ll see where things go. I mean really we kissed and messed around a little and it didn’t cross his mind to tell me then.  Honestly this is why I’ve stayed single for so long, men don’t know how to be honest or forthcoming with information, but I can’t stop thinking about him either.

Since I’ve been wearing a kippah all the time, since September or October, I get some great questions from passengers, coworkers, airport employees, but by far the best questions I get are from my more Torah observant passengers.  For example; so you get shabbos off right?  NO,  I don’t it’s up to me to change my schedule. Or “How do you eat when your working because it’s hard enough for me and I only fly twice a week?” I get the most questions about food and eating. Ya know Jews love to eat and so my answer is usually simple and concise ” I can bring food through security as a crew member” but I had one guy just last week on a flight between 2 cities in California that didn’t like my answer,  while he was getting off and I was tidying the cabin he stopped me in the aisle and handed me his business card and told me if I ever needed anything while I was in the LA area or northern Cali area to give him a call and he’ll have someone bring me whatever I need including shabbat meals or while I’m on a sit in the airport. I’ve never had a passenger be so direct to offer anything. Usually when I get spotted by a Torah Observant person I get a stare maybe a smile.

This past Weekend

Every shabbat is usually the same, I try to clean the house and get ready for a Saturday of resting, well I had plans this weekend to go away for the long holiday weekend, so I didn’t prepare anything for shabbat. When those plans changed I was planning on just going to service and then coming home and relaxing for the weekend with out a single thing planned. Well that all went down the “crapper” when I hurt my back. I couldn’t sit, so going to shul was out of the question, I couldn’t stand, so all I was left to do was lay down. Well things got worse Saturday morning when I couldn’t do anything, literally NOTHING. I couldn’t even get out of bed, I tried and fell right to my knees, in tears. I have had a back injury for the past year and I have dealt with pain for that long but this was different pain. Like my body just locked up. I finally made it back into bed and fell back to sleep for a few hours, when I woke up again and could barely crawl I knew something was really wrong so I had to call 911. My bedroom is upstairs so I had to figure out how I could get down without being in excruciating pain and not have to have the EMT’s or Firemen have to carry me down. Granted some of them were cute and they were really friendly but I had already made it down halfway when they got there and the stairway isn’t big enough for 2 let alone 3 or 4. As I crawled down my two cats were at the top looking down and one of the firemen said “your cats look like they’re judging you”. I said yeah they’re judging but they’re judging you guys. My cats were distraught because I was crying and screaming out in pain. Now all they do is lay next to me and try to comfort me.

My baby taking care of me

My baby comforting me

I was taken to the ER and given some (actually a lot of) pain killers and muscle relaxers. I was there for about 7 hours and not even an X-Ray was taken, the Dr. just forgot about me. My friends have been so great this weekend with picking me up from the hospital to getting my prescriptions filled, especially, Kourtney, the girl in my conversion class, we’ve only known each other for 5 months and she came to the hospital and drove me home, we have become close during our time in class and outside of class. And Sandra, a woman I work with. They both drove from the other side of town to help me. I am forever grateful to them.
Since I’ve been bed ridden for 3 days now I’ve had time to read my siddur and pray, a lot. Now before anyone gets uptight about not having a minyan, or not facing, Jerusalem, I know that Hashem won’t mind, and exceptions are made for hose that aren’t physically able to. I’m finding that some of the prayers resonate with my inner being, my “neshama.” I am so glad that Hashem has put me on this path.

Half way through

I am now half way into the class for converting, our last class for the semester was yesterday and because some of the people in my class are at the end of their year we talked about where we were in our journey’s and it got me thinking. I have been doing “Jewish” since November of 2013, I like to think I started out little by little but as I look back I just dove in head first. I started off by not eating pork and shellfish and doing shabbat, going to synagogue every week, not eating meat and dairy together, praying before I eat and saying the Shm’a only before going to bed, I also make challah for the most part each week and light the candles.
Now I say the bedtime Shm’a from the ArtScroll orthodox Siddur, I try to say the Modeh Ani when I wake up and the other morning prayers, I wear a kippah on most days and some days I don’t even remember I have it on. I still don’t keep kosher and I have not laid T’fillin although I have been looking at buying them, I have also tried the ritual hand washing in the morning, I do feel a connection there and I may start doing it more.
This time of reflection has given me an opportunity to really think about everything. It’s also forced me to think about how I will continue to do “Jewish” in my daily life once the class is over. I’m still glad I started this journey, I am ecstatic about being and becoming Jewish and cannot wait for the day that my conversion is complete and I dunk in the mikvah. I can’t picture myself being anything other than Jewish.

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.

More about me

As I’ve already said I’m 32, I’m a Flight Attendant and I’m gay and single. That’s just a little part of me, I grew up on and love the beach, although I don’t get to one too often. Water and the beach recharge my emotional batteries, wether it’s a beach in Los Angeles, Tel Aviv or the Jersey Shore, it doesn’t matter, although being in Tel Aviv is something special. The jersey shore is were I’m from so it’s “home” even after being away for 7 years living in the south. I live with a girl, she is also a flight attendant, we’ve lived together for 7 years we’re like brother and sister (yes I do have a real sister, but we don’t talk) I have also lived in what the airline industry calls “crash pads”. This was a 3 bedroom town house that had 10 beds in it, but only sometimes was everyone there at once, I could go a week without seeing another person in the house. Being a flight attendant is my dream job and the saying, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in you life,” it’s true, however the road to get where I am, career-wise, is a pothole filled, construction ridden, single Lane, traffic jammed road that not many make it, but once you do you don’t ever want to leave. During months that I have vacation I can work as few as 3 days in the entire month and if done correctly, like this past October and November, I had a total of 45 consecutive days off. During that vacation I was actually ready to get back to work.
Once a year we have a recurrent or refresher course. It involves many hours online watching videos, taking tests and then an entire day in class doing hands on exercises. I just did this, this past week and it’s the one time of year every flight attendant and pilot stresses about. Yep even pilots have to yearly training and theirs is a lot longer. As flight attendants when we come to work, we are on edge and looking for things that are out of the ordinary. But I still wouldn’t trade in my wings for anything. I couldn’t work a desk job anymore. Adding in religion to my career is easy, in an “invisible” way, I don’t me that no one sees me being Jewish, because people do, it’s just added in small concealed ways. Like a Shma prayer ring I bought, in the old city of Jerusalem on my first visit, or the prayers I say before I eat, or drink, and the way I eat which is mostly just seen by my fellow flight attendants. I also show it when I have jewish passengers on board, by being shomer negiah (not touching the opposite sex) if it’s a woman I may be serving, letting them know the pretzels are the only kosher snack, they’re parve, but not kosher for passover obviously, letting them know what kosher drinks we have, ginger ale, oj, cran-apple and apple for some reason, or enlightening my fellow crew members about t’fillin and jewish prayer, my company has sent out emails to every flight attendant about what the t’fillin are and what to expect during the prayer, but like us, Jews that is, flight attendants are very inquisitive and want to know everything. Even El Al has to deal with minyan’s forming in the galleys and aisles and that isn’t allowed and they disperse those passengers that want to congregate. I also answer a lot of questions from my fellow flight attendant have and dispel misconception’s of what being Jewish is.