As summer changes to autumn in St. Louis, we seek ways to find nature-based connections in celebration of Simchat Torah. North of the equator, children and adults alike marvel as the natural world dazzles in majestically colored autumn leaves, as if in...
Related Blog Posts on Author Interviews, Conversion, Family Activities, Jewish Life Around the World, and Jews of Color
"What are you?" was a question I was often asked in New York City. At first, I did not understand. Having grown up in San Antonio, Texas during the Jim Crow era, there was no doubt in my mind. During Jim Crow, Americans were defined by their skin color. I was not Black, but neither was I white. Therefore, I reasoned, I must be Mexican.
Even before I finalized my conversion to Judaism, I was preparing to celebrate my adult bar mitzvah. In a sense, my conversion preparation became a precursor to bigger plans: for a bar mitzvah and a Jewish vow renewal ceremony with my wife Laurie later this year.
On Shavuot, many of us study the Book of Ruth. Lauded by Rabbinic tradition as a righteous convert, Ruth’s story continues to resonate with the experiences of many Jews-by-choice today.
I’m feeling very peaceful today. I went to the mikvah this morning. I was a little nervous, just because official rites of passage can be a little scary. But I knew everyone was going to be super nice and supportive (and they were!).
My grandmother once told me about her father's family, and we bonded over learning about one of our most famous ancestors, Mary, Queen of Scots. Years later, I did some genealogical research while on maternity leave to keep my mind sharp and give me something to focus on outside the realm of taking care of a newborn.
I've been reflecting on the story of America's founding - the narrative many of us learn as children in the United States. I've recently learned a different version of that story - one that I now recognize intertwines with my own. My identities as Cuban American and Jewish have been shaped by Indigenous stories in America and in Cuba; particularly the themes of beginnings, loss, transformation, and change.
Beejhy Barhany (she/her) is an entrepreneur and activist who was born in Ethiopia, raised in Israel, and currently resides in New York. Today, she is the chef and owner of an eclectic Ethiopian restaurant in Harlem, New York, Tsion Café, that incorporates cuisine from the many places that have influenced her journey.
Our tradition teaches that once someone has converted to Judaism, they are as Jewish as a Jew by birth and we are not to speak of it again with them, or with anyone else. It should be as if they have always been Jewish. To not speak of it is to fully honor the person who chose Judaism by not making any distinctions between them and the born-Jewish members of our communities.
As I boarded the plane to Israel in the summer of 2002 for my first year of rabbinical school at HUC in Jerusalem, my mother said, "Please, just don't meet an Israeli." As soon as the plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport, I knew that I was home. A few months later, I met that Israeli. From our first conversation, he understood that I was studying to be a rabbi, and I understood that he wanted to live only in Israel.