Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So What's Jewish About This?

Well, for starters, me.

The web address of this blog sounds suspiciously like it's about conversion. I happen to know several people who became Jewish at roughly the same time that they became parents. But that's not my experience, and it's not my particular aim here. The becoming that I'm concerned with is becoming a parent. When we become parents, there is a conversion that happens--a fundamental change--whether we are ready or not, and whether we welcome it or not. We become new versions of ourselves, with new values and goals that center around our relationship to the new person that we have brought into this world.

For me, becoming a parent spurred a desire to connect to Jewish life.

I'm guessing I'm not the only one who found myself pregnant for the first time, and suddenly feeling the want of a shul, a rabbi, a community. Granted, Josh and I were young by urban standards when we got married and had our first baby. Back in our mid-twenties, Jewish communal life was not a big part of our day to day. But when a baby came into the picture, I found myself reading The New Jewish Baby Book by Anita Diamant, and searching the internet for Hebrew baby names. We joined a synagogue, and met other couples on the verge of becoming parents, many still close friends.

We planned and held a home-made Simchat Bat ceremony to welcome Bella and give her her Hebrew name, and in doing so we affirmed the importance of Judaism in our family. At the time, we hadn't been called upon to connect directly with our Jewish identity in such an active way since our wedding.

We don't raise our children alone, and while I'm a member of many communities (writers, New Yorkers, (once) expats, coffee-drinkers, birth-believers, to name a few), the one that continues to embrace our whole family is the Jewish community.

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