Religion & Beliefs

Becoming Jewish: “Shiksa Frustration: Escape to Judaism… in 3D!”

I’m sick of being called a shiksa. One time, after a guy broke up with me, he told me his sister said that, “Shiksas are just for practice.” Knowing how frustrated I was, one of my friends triple dog dared me to convert to Judaism. And that’s where this column comes in. Read More

By / March 18, 2011
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I’m sick of being called a shiksa. One time, after a guy broke up with me, he told me his sister said that, “Shiksas are just for practice.” Knowing how frustrated I was, one of my friends triple dog dared me to convert to Judaism. And that’s where this column comes in.

Just kidding! Jeez, doesn’t that sound like the plot of a horrible film?  Shiksa Frustration: Escape to Judaism… in 3D! Why would it be in 3D you ask? Well, who wouldn’t want to see Shabbos candle lighting in all its glory?

I have been called a shiksa way too often, but it’s not why I’m converting. I’m not converting for my boyfriend, his family, or my Jewish friends, who make up roughly 70% of my social circle. I’m doing it for me. And for the challah bread, of course.

All of the above reasons, my boyfriend, his family, and my friends, were just the tipping points that “sealed the deal” in my decision to convert from atheism to Judaism. I grew up practicing nothing, save for trips to church where I only knew the songs because “Sister Act” is pretty much the best movie ever, and decided at age 13 that I didn’t believe in a god. For eight years of my life, I was set in my lack of beliefs.

Being a stubborn person, I didn’t take it too kindly when, two days after my boyfriend Danny and I started dating, he told me he’d never marry a non-Jew. He wouldn’t even tie the knot with a Reform Jew. But, he isn’t attracted to Jewish women! He very specifically told me, “I want to marry a non-Jewish woman who will convert to Conservative Judaism.” I didn’t understand, called him prejudice, said love knows no bounds, and decided not to give into that way of thinking.

A few months later, something changed, though. I began to reflect upon my time as an atheist. I believed in karma. I believed in fate and destiny. I believed that everyone had a path and that there was order to the world. I couldn’t force myself to believe in eternal nothingness. There had to be a reason things happened. I believed that the reason I had gotten certain jobs, achieved goals, and found someone to love was that I was not only a hard worker, but also a good person. I was being rewarded. I realized that a lot of those principles and beliefs were spiritual.

When I met Danny’s family, I didn’t feel that hostility a shiksa is supposed to receive. I felt comfortable instantly. I was afraid of being seen as an outsider at Chabad on Friday nights, but I felt at ease there as well. The Rabbi and his wife were warm, and, not to mention, their food was phenomenal. I didn’t understand the Hebrew the Rabbis spoke when they said the prayers, but I felt connected anyway. When everyone got liquored up at the end of the night and sang in gibberish that sounded like Hebrew, I sang along, too. Hanukkah rolled around, and so did Christmas. I celebrated both. I definitely favored Hanukkah, even though I was sick to my stomach by the end of it ‘cause of all the jelly donuts. Gee, this religion was looking tastier and tastier. I mean better and better.

After eight months of dating Danny and partaking in Jewish rituals, we met with a Rabbi. Aside from the facts that I love bacon, am torn on Israel, and can’t separate myself from my cell phone or Mac during Shabbot, it sounded good to me. I read Anita Diamant’s “Choosing a Jewish Life.” The cultural, spiritual, and religious aspects clicked with me then as well. I went to Schul and loved it. I was met with open arms from the people I was introduced to and I liked the services. Everything felt right.

My interest in Judaism and decision to convert could be compared to meeting a new friend or discovering a new hobby. When I took my first improv class at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade, I felt it. On the first day at my new high school, which was filled with artsy rejects like myself, I knew I was at home. The moment I met Danny, I knew. Sometimes you just feel it.

I guess I should have known all along that I was going to convert one day. I have just always felt like I fit in more with Jews than any other group. I’ve only fallen in love with Jews, most of the people I’ve dated are Jews, and again, growing up, most of my good friends have been Jews. Woody Allen is one of my very favorite filmmakers. My career goal is to be a successful comedian. C’mon!

Over the last year, I’ve also changed my tune a bit in regards to Danny’s need to marry a Jewish convert. I’ve read about younger generations today being less Jewish and the need to keep the religion/culture alive and strong. Even though I haven’t yet converted, I have to agree. Every person has a choice in regards to how much they practice his or her given religion, but it’s a shame when it’s ignored altogether. I am glad that I can be apart of a keeping the traditions, religion, and culture active and teach my future children the same values.

In my next column, I’ll be discussing my first-time experience celebrating Purim. Halloween(ish) twice a year? I think I’m in love.