Religion & Beliefs

Black, Gay, And Jewish: Gay And Away In Israel

I go to Israel with no expectations and with a completely open heart and mind. I haven’t formulated concrete thoughts on Israel, which was the topic of debate for many meetings with my conversion rabbi. Read More

By / November 17, 2011
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Several months ago I got notification that I was the recipient of a scholarship worth $2500. That twenty five hundred dollars would cover meals, travel, and accommodations for ten days in Israel. I would be travelling with a group of LGBT Jews from around the world to the Holy Land. A bunch of gay Jews on a gay trip in Israel? I instantly accepted the scholarship without reading the fine print. The fine print being that in order to experience Gay Israel, I would have to pay for a flight first.

You will recall my last piece in which I spilled my financial woes to the Jewcy world. Dropping $1000 on a flight while being unemployed seemed impossible. I almost wrote to the organisation, A Wider Bridge, to regretfully decline. Instead, I begged and asked bloggers and friends and strangers to post my mug to their websites and blogs asking for help. The mission was easy-if everyone donated $5 I could easily get to Israel. In under two weeks twenty-nine people donated a total of $785 through my Pay pal account. I also received checks and cash from people I knew, barely knew, or complete strangers. All in all, I was able to purchase tickets, travel insurance, and a guide book.

I write this post from Newark International airport. I’m surrounded by people clutching passports and speaking languages I do not understand. I’ve watched two Hasidic couples waddle in and find seats and watched as a Black Muslim man faced eastward and knelt to the ground in evening prayers.

After an overnight flight and a twelve-hour layover I will land in the Holy Land, just four months after officially becoming a Jewish woman. I have so many questions and so many thoughts that I know only ten days in Israel will not be able to answer. I may be a Jew officially, but I was a Christian for over three decades. The Holy Land isn’t just a pretty way of saying Israel to me, it truly is Holy. It is holy to my new Jewish life and holy to my old Christian life. It is holy to millions of people who we like to think are very different than us, but are we really that different?

I go to Israel with no expectations and with a completely open heart and mind. I haven’t formulated concrete thoughts on Israel, which was the topic of debate for many meetings with my conversion rabbi. More than it being my right as a Jew to go to Israel, its my responsibility as a person of faith to go there, with a completely open mind. I want to see it with my own eyes, hear it with my own ears, inhale it, breathe it and feel it under my feet. People keep telling me that I will be changed, that it will change me, but I’m not sure if that will be true-it remains to be seen.