[Next Fall] Everything happens for a reason.

….I will always believe in that.….Especially after these last 3 weeks.

HI MY DEAREST READERS! I am finally back (sort of) to tell why I went missing for almost a whole 3 weeks.

The play “Next Fall” that I wasn’t supposed to work–but ended up working–ended today, Sunday 6/16. I am actually home BEFORE 11p/midnight for the first time in 3 weeks. What an exhausting (in a good way) and intense show this was, but the most memorable and overall spiritually the best of all the many shows I’ve worked in the last 3 years. I’m going to try my best to recount my steps. I wrote down notes at the beginning but then life took over and haven’t written anything since.

In the beginning, the Universe works out in mysterious ways….

Ever since BNC ended last year in March, I was asked by the same director if I was going to work his next show. (No, I was doing too much at that time.) He left for a while, then I took a break, then he came back, and I was still gone… but I was available to help with auditions. He asked again, and no was still the answer, because I was organizing the SOAs, and rehearsals coincided with the performances. Well, guess what? It just so happens that the Universe threw a wrench into the whole plan and I ended up ASMing “Next Fall” with him after all, and it was okay that I miss SOAs first week’s readings.

The first week of three: Since I joined very late to the game, the first week was spent trying to gather/study notes, watch the play and figure out all my responsibilities. That first week’s weekend we moved the set to the CH. The second week we went into “hell week” where we practiced all week until Wednesday and had 6 performances in 5 days. (After the first performance, our director made some major changes to the order of the play, and it ended up working out for the better.) The third week was our final week, with the first 3 days we usually have off, I was at the other location in rehearsals for the SOAs.

In case you’re wondering…. “Next Fall” is an lgbtq-related play that talks a lot about religion and the couple’s relationship in line with that over 5 years. (I found two good synopsis online: synopsis and synopsis2). We had a pretty big ad in the local Jewish paper here, too. This was also the very first play we’ve put on for Pride, and probably in this area… so cheers to a lot of firsts we’re doing! So very proud of my group for doing this.

So, let’s get Jewish, maybe? There’s a lot of Jewish-related lines and moments in this play. Part of the play takes place in a Jewish hospital. One of the characters is Jewish. We had screens in the back of wall for each scene: in the church scene, we had a beautiful Star of David showing. We also had a few kippahs as props… and today as we were loading everything up to take it back to our home, our prez said, “what are we going to do with all of these? Someone needs to write a Jewish play!” ON IT!

The moment I’ve been waiting for a really long time.

So, here I am in the middle of working a semi-religious play with so much depth straight into the Universe, and on that Friday of the 2nd week, the first week of performances, I get a text message from my Rabbi and also another classmate…. with the question of “do you want to do your conversion next week?”

UH YES! YES! YES! YES!

“Well, when?”

“You guys pick the date. I’ll be there.”

June 12th.

Now, when I’m this deeply involved in a play (especially one at this intensity), I go severely missing. You don’t hear from me or see me until it’s over. I even dropped off the face of the social media planet. So that is what happened. However, I was seeing: work, Next Fall and SOA family… and those were the only folks I was talking to, ONLY because I saw them daily.

I was at work when I got those text messages. When they texted me back the date, I started crying so hard. The guys at work turned around and stared. I could barely get out the words that I was going to have my conversion ceremony the following week. They were super supportive and started singing Hava Nagila. (Side note: they haven’t stopped singing this yet.)

Something else that happened: I took a look at the date, June 12th, and I felt something about that date. Something inside told me to look it up. I did. It was Anne Frank’s 90th birthday. HOLY SMOKES. Was I really going to be converted on Anne Frank’s Birthday? Was that some sort of sign? I found out about the Holocaust from reading her diary, it had always had an impact on me, and I felt such a connection with her. Even today, I feel the need to help keep the Holocaust stories alive. I just couldn’t believe it when I saw the date, her birthday, and my connection with writing and the Holocaust. Not only that, but I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before… my birthday was her very last diary entry and my parent’s anniversary was the date that they went into hiding. That’s some spooky meant to be stuff right there, don’t you think?!

Also, my classmate was texting me “You have to find a Hebrew name!” I’m texting the Rabbi saying, “WHAT? I HAVE TO FIND A HEBREW NAME?” Then he’s like, “Don’t worry, we’ll find one together. Let’s talk.” Soooooo… I ended up going through the entire Jewish baby name dictionary and since there’s NOT a name for “GLITTER” … I chose Ahava. It means love. I love too much sometimes, I do think love is the best gift in the world, and I always write “love always, Karen Maeby” on almost everything… sooo.. in retrospect, my Hebrew name has practically been there the whole time, just in English. So that’s how I picked my name.

On Friday: I left work for NF performance and I told a few people there… and that turned into telling more than I liked to, but I just couldn’t hold it inside. It was too much of exciting news, but I also didn’t want to jinx it.

That same weekend was Shavuot, so I brought cheesecake, and we ate it during our second Saturday show’s intermission. I left a note there of why I had brought it, and they really appreciated it, and started asking me questions about my journey.

Sunday was NF performance, then Monday & Tuesday I was in rehearsal for SOAs.

Wednesday 6/12 was the big day.

I get to CBI, and there my Rabbi was… filling out papers with my Hebrew name, Ahava. Let me tell you something, it wasn’t even close to being time to immerse in the water yet, and I was already tearing up with just seeing my name on the papers. Soon after, my classmate arrived, and then we went before the Beit Din (separately, of course) and asked questions. Then it was time to go to nature’s mikvah out in Ft Desoto.

It was time. I was already emotional as I got into the water, had a little bit of an almost panic attack (considering I can’t swim) but I made it to the water being reasonably high. We dunked 3 times each. Spent a moment collecting ourselves in the water. (I have something written out from what I felt in those maybe less than 10 minutes in the water, but it’s almost too personal for me to put on here. I’m not sure if I’m ready to share that part of my soul yet.) Then we walked back to shore to do our prayers.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t believe it.

I still can’t believe it as I am writing this out a few days later.

I am still so emotional over my chance at becoming Jewish, and becoming Jewish a few weeks earlier than planned. I am just over the moon. (Side note: I was in painting mode last year around June. I remember painting a bunch of “love” pictures with rainbows and saying to myself “I wish I had a June birthday”…and in my Jewish life, I do now.)

After we left Ft Desoto, we left to eat at Meze119. (This was already planned by my classmate, otherwise, I would’ve been at my third home in a heartbeat. That’s where I felt my celebration should’ve been…but I digress….)

I went to rehearsal that evening, and everyone congratulated me.

On Thursday, I was back at the other place for Next Fall’s final week of performances… and everyone was giving me hugs and congratulating me and just so much support. They even gave me a card with “Ahava” on it … and I cried. Yep. Buckets. I cry so much when I see my Jewish name. It has more meaning to me than my real name or the second half of my stage name that I came up with. It’s just… crazy. It’s like my heart is taken to another planet or something when I see “Ahava” and they’re talking about me.

Over the rest of the week of performances, there were still many more congrats and etc. We had our cast party in between both of our shows on Saturday 6/15 (wow, what a long day that was, maybe 14 hours or something). We had Chinese food, so much wine, cake. They gave us backstage people gifts or cards like they always do… my card’s envelope had “Karen / Ahava” and I didn’t even want to open it because I was very emotional from just seeing… Ahava once again.

AT THE CAST PARTY….. I did a thing. I had notecards of about 15 different questions to ask the cast about the play. Since we were a group that was already discussing some points in depth, I decided to make it a game, and I was not disappointed. I am just so happy I got to do this! I’ve waited 3 years and a ton of plays to do something like this! The questions are kind of spoilers so I can’t write them here, but basically, there’s a whole lot of philosophical thoughts, metaphors and the like where everything ties in together for the whole story and I wanted to hear everyone’s answers.

My favorite line of the whole thing is the most poetic, one of the characters says something along the lines of, “….my body may not be fat, but my soul is….”

I get that. So very much do I get that! And, just a few words… can speak volumes.

What an emotional rollercoaster these last 3 weeks have been. I cannot believe that I was working a play that discussed religion–one I wasn’t really supposed to even be working–during Pride month (also while working the SOAs–my favorite show) and close to celebrating 3 years with my theatre group….and becoming Jewish. Wow. Wow. Wow. I am so speechless. Theatre. Writing. And Jewishness…. THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS….!!!!!!!

Fun Facts … about working Next Fall:

-This was my first time working a show with this many scene changes, getting to practically be a part of the play (even while being backstage) AND we even got to take a bow like the rest of the cast!

-This was the first time we ever played loud music in the greenroom as everyones getting ready. Usually, everyone wants silence.

-This is the first time we did shots of Cinnamon Whiskey. Three.. nights..in a .. row… now I’m addicted!

-This is the first play of 3 years worth of plays that I was able to sit down and have a true discussion with the cast about the depth of the play.

-We have a new backstage person, and she is wonderful. She’s practically my new backstage bfffff, and we connected since day one. I really hope I get to work with her again. Even if not, we’ve got plans to hang out in the future.

-On the set bookcases they had a Jewish book that I have at home. My eyes lit up when I saw that. They later added a book about Harvey Milk… and I actually got to take that home with me! Yay!

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting…. but this has practically been my last 3 weeks. It has been the best last 3 weeks I’ve had in such a long time.

Now that I’m Jewish….I really need to start helping change the world a little bit more than what I had been before. (I have to be a mensch not a grinch!) I have plans, and ideas… but mostly, I need to start where I’m passionate at and that’s writing… and like my director wrote back to me in an email: trust yourself and keep writing.

I need to listen to him.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby (Ahava)

Intro to Judaism class takes a field trip. The end.

Ever since last year in Sept or Oct, we have met (almost) every Wednesday, and today was…the…very…last…anything…for Intro to Judaism. Holy moly. It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t even seem right. I am so, so, so thankful that I took the opportunity to take the class when I did, because our Rabbi will not be teaching it again next year. It has been very much a commitment, but one worth doing. And hey… everything happens for a reason (my saying yes & taking the class this year).

We met at the Holocaust Museum for part I. Our Rabbi took us around and gave us a guided tour from beginning to end. I still feel the same way as I did last year when I got to go by myself right before the ceremony started. I thought of a story idea while looking at some of the items that were saved from the Holocaust. The idea matches the missing parts of some earlier ideas I had but couldn’t move forward on….because it didn’t start out being Jewish-based, but now it will be. The answer is always… Jewish.

Part II was eating at Meze119. OMG. That place is delicious. I think I want to go back this weekend, honestly. Our Rabbi ordered a bunch of things and we all shared: Israeli salad, grilled haloumi, hummus (garlic, eggplant, chicpeas), falafel, spinach cakes and one or two more things that had chicpeas in it. I’ve never had any of that food except hummus and my goodness it was so delicious! I hate spinach but I tried the cakes, and they were actually very yummy. I just can’t believe I’ve never tried any of this food before. I feel like I’ve definitely missed out. With the veggies and stuff I do get, I could make some of this on my own.

Anyway, we talked about our journeys, our almost year together, what we’ve learned and so on. It was a good ending conversation that merited as a celebration.

But, get this: End. Of. June. You know what is? That’s when–if we choose to do so–we can convert. (Meaning we’ve had our going further chat with our Rabbi and if everyone can get together to convert together.)

END

OF

JUNE

???!!!!?????!!!!

THIS SOON? THAT SOON?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. When he mentioned it, I felt like he was talking “very soon” but I really didn’t realize…. how so was very soon.

Now comes the panicking part: am I ready? WELL YES. I mean, I shouted it in the Purim Spiel “ARE YOU PROUD TO BE A JEW? YES! ARE YOU PROUD TO BE A JEW? YES WE ARE!” (and I really did tear up every time) or…the Jews Won song set to One from the Chorus Line…. or L’Chaim… to life… l’chaim to life… or any of it. And living as much as I could this year and last….and just to sit back and think on how much my life has changed because of my moment at Hanukkah December 2017.

Then comes the other part… WHAT DO I NEED TO DO? I feel like I need to wholeheartedly become myself before I can take an acceptance in the Mikvah and be born again….which means…opening up and becoming vulnerable in which was something I had to do the other day by accident and it was so scary. First time admitting it out loud, but it was in a room full of the same people as I’m discovering myself to be, so it was a little bit safer.

Still, what do I need to do? There’s so much. I need to have a plan. I’m freaking out that I have a plan but it’s not a plan until I start planning… I have dreams and goals, where am I taking myself on this journey? Vegas is calling me home; NOLA is flirting with me like the day I fell in love with Jazz music; Seattle and Massachusetts keeps writing to me; Philly, NY, and DC are like old friends and saying “When are you ever going to come visit me again? I’ve got new things to share with you.” And, ow, my brain. Like fire. In a few days, hopefully, I will have a scheduled meeting with my Rabbi to discuss my future. I’m so torn as to what to do, where to go, what to be…. this is not something to take lightly. I literally get a new life: I get to be reborn again, back into the arms of the stars in the galaxy that hold me to my destined life, and after being away from my tribe for so long… I will find my place to fit in, right where I belong… It’ll be home. So surreal to even think about…. and another dream of mine that gets to come true. All I want to do, though, is truly make a difference in the world (starting off with a couple people to a community to a state and all over), and create something beautiful for everyone to enjoy. I just don’t know what yet. I think my answers might be in writing.

I found out that most of the programs (classes & the like) will be shutting down over the summer… which I guess is okay because it leaves me time to do SOAs, write, focus on cleaning and planning…and studying on my own.

I am in so much trouble since I found thriftbooks.com. After I bought round 1 of books, I bought round 2. I was only able to do that because they were so cheap, I got another discount on that, and I get 2 free books out of my next deal. I found several books of true and fictional Jewish essays / short stories / fairytales, a few more Holocaust books (fiction & non-fiction), Art thru Judaism, proper books for Sabbath / Death&Mourning, poetry, Jewish holidays collection, being Jewish, Jewish convert stories, and a few books about Matzo ball soup traditions & etc. I think my summer is going to be well spent reading, and lucky you, you’ll get to read about what I’m reading! (I still need to catch up on a few reviews. Oops.)

Soon I’ll be talking about Shavuot, ice-cream and cheesecake!!

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Jewish Journey essay for Intro to Judaism class review.

Okay. This was extremely hard to write without tears forming in my eyes. It means that much. The first assignment of our packet was to write a spiritual autobiography. It would be appropriate I’d find my answers as my vacay is coming to an end. Here goes….

Going on an extended vacay to my hometown—to revisit where I was born and spent my first 21 years growing up—has really helped me clarify that I am exactly where I need to be on my Jewish journey: to embrace fully—to learn, to live and breathe Judaism—for the rest of my life. 

While on my flight, I read Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” where he wrote of his experience of being in the Holocaust. After landing, I went to my favorite sandwich shop near the mall, then I ran over to the used bookstore. The first time I went in there with no agenda and just looked around. I accidentally found two books by Harold Kushner and two books by Elie Wiesel. The following week I went back to the bookstore with a list and found a book by Philip Roth, a Holocaust book, and two books by Leslea Newman. All of my life I have read so much of everything but only had a few favorite authors….and now—thankful to this journey—that list is growing.

There have been a few very uncomfortable moments on this trip to do with my choices of food and toward my newly found religion and lifestyle. There seemed to be a slight interest in my journey, then twice the slight rude remark. After mentioning several times that I stopped eating pork since December 2018, ribs were put on my plate and bacon was cooked. I refused both. I stood my ground—for faith and health reasons. I know I made the right decision, considering I had a flash back to my childhood where I was pushed to eat some of the most unhealthiest foods that still remain valid in that hometown life. For the umpteenth time, I was forced to go to a church for a faith in which I have never believed, and was told “no” when I wanted to go to the local synagogue to honor Shabbat. Even though I have a long ways to go with Hebrew, I missed hearing the prayers and songs. I missed the way it feels walking into a synagogue vs a church. I miss how happy and full of life everyone seems to be in a synagogue. 

Even though I’ve have to deal with those issues, I have not let them get to me too much. I have been able to relax, gain strength of my mind once again, and have time to think. 

Every aspect of my life has become richer since following, studying and living Judaism. I can’t explain it. 2018 was the best year of my life: the people that I met last year are the best people I’ve ever met in my entire life and they’re no longer “friends” —they’re all family. The activities I either started or continued has made such an important impact on my life that I’m trying to figure out how to make it all tie in with Judaism. The art I’ve created, the Instagram account and blog where I write have been outlets for me to not only document my journey but to express major love towards my new life and share it with the world. 

There have been several surprises along the way: such as finding out my favorite song from high school choir “Go Down, Moses” plays an important role in Jewish life at Passover, or finding out that my favorite cartoon in the entire world that I watched obsessive as a child—Rugrats—has a Hanukkah and Passover episode. I often felt like the new year should start in the fall, and I have always had a horrible feeling around March or April (which happened again this year—and once Passover was over—I felt better). I have always had a connection with the Holocaust, and my feelings for wanting to preserve the memory get stronger as the days go by. There’s been a connection with me and trees, little symbolism in daily life, feelings that are exposed after reading Jewish books (ones I hadn’t thought about in a long time or saying to myself ‘well, now that makes sense as to why I felt that’), and so on. I have always loved Fridays more than any day of the week. I say “oy vey” more than I probably should. And, to top it all off, I used to really strongly dislike “chicken soup” until I discovered matzo ball soup…and game on. 

Not only have I found favorite authors, books, magazines and subscribed to a million of newsletters around the US, but I have discovered some of the best TV shows, and they’re chocked full of Jewishness… and guess what? I actually get the references or jokes, and I am so giddy inside when they mention something I know. I’ve also become that person who wants to download music to a specific holiday, or go absolutely nuts over the snacks that are served around that time. Over the past year, I have participated in a lot of the holidays, but my favorite was Purim – due to being in the Purim Spiel. I really embraced that with everything I had, and I didn’t stop talking about it for days. Also, Mitzvah Day, should be a holiday because that’s how special it was for me. 

Building a relationship with G-d on the basis that G-d is the light within all of us, and in everything that we do, is something that I believe in. In the last year, I have tried to build my choices around that fact: doing good deeds, saying no at times, trying to become a better person, becoming healthier in the heart/mind/soul, and so on. As someone who is converting, I feel that I should walk the walk and not not just talk. I have to be that good example, and help others follow. 

My journey—for the most part—has been about experience. The holidays or moments I experienced were the best, because I could: see, feel, hear, touch, smell…. then document about it later in some form. It is a very emotional connection for me. Everything about it. 

While I don’t know where I’m going at this point—other than forward, all the way—with this journey, I am excited in seeing what’s in store for me because I am completely open at this point. I know there are things I want to improve on, such as attending more services, being able to fully read Hebrew, continuing making way in my schedule to attend more Jewish functions and keeping Kosher. There’s also wanting to learn just about anything and everything that I can by experiences, reading and traveling around to Jewish places and sharing it in some form. Since the Holocaust has been so important in my life, I would like to be that future of Judaism that helps keep the memory of those who we lost. And one day, I hope to publish the several Jewish-type stories that I am writing, including my own journey. 

We all have a story in us, and we need to share it before it’s too late. Being a writer myself—I believe that is one of my purposes, and I hope that I can achieve that goal not only for me, but help others do the same….all by that light that stays lit within the soul.  

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Jewish News and Updated Thoughts

My emails have been filled with all kinds of news from what to do about Israel / Gaza issue to counting the Omer to Shavuot to everything else in between…..

I read about London’s “Reubens” which was the only Kosher restaurant on the West End closed after 46 years of business. My heart hurts entirely too much when I read that another Kosher Deli bites the dust. This one was due to family bereavement. But any loss of a Kosher Deli is sad. I’ve read in the past 6 months about some closing their doors due to lack of or money or something of that nature. It just makes me very, very sad.

Joe Berlinger–a film director–was inspired to do two different series about Ted Bundy after reading about the Holocaust. As a person who watches non-fiction crime shows way too much (I’m one of those addicted to Investigation Discovery channel), I can’t wait to see what he’s done with those two film series.

I got an email from the ladies of The Jewish Planner giving an update that the planner is in the process of being printed and we’ll get the physical copies around July or August. I’m so excited! I finally have a planner that I’ll be able to follow since I can’t seem to follow the normal ones anymore. My life has literally been on the offset of sunrise to sunset and finally embracing why… love this Jewish life! Just wish the rest of the world could live on that time!

I keep seeing a thousand more articles every day about the newest Instagram story on the girl in the middle of the Holocaust. I’m still upset by it. I haven’t been on Instagram in a few days, so I don’t know what’s going on with that account… but…. I’m reading so many different opinions about it. The truth of the matter is, we really need to figure out how to talk and share about the Holocaust (but maybe in a different educational form) because this article’s statistics are horrifying.

Locally, I just read that one of our Sisterhoods has folded up / suspended operations. It’s not my synagogues Sisterhood, thank goodness, but all the same–sadness.

There’s emails breaking down “Why do people hate the Jews?” It lists reasons for why we are still being targeted and killed today. It’s incredibly sad, and the reasons are complete bullshit…enough that they only make sense to the ones doing the harm. Anti-semitism is on the rise. Worse than ever. And I still want to convert and become a Jew more than anything so that I can be a part of the solution and a positive future to help the world in the name of Judaism.

Aish.com still continues to bring me lots of email resourcefulness of every day counting the Omer (which I look at every few days!) and daily insight/advice.

I read about a Yiddish Typewriter... and still, my desire to learn Yiddish is strong. I need to finish that book that I started about the guy who saved all of the Yiddish books and opened the book center in Massachusetts. I would love to shake his hand or hug him. He’s one of my heroes. Yet another thing that makes me super emotional…. saving books, saving Yiddish books, saving the history for our future and made something very beautiful to carry on. My heart explodes!

These are just some of the stories I’ve been reading, and while reading, trying to figure out my placement in this Jewish life. Where can I be most helpful? What can I do to help? There’s so many signs everywhere that I’m seeing “stories, stories, stories” – everyone has a story – stories need to be shared to continue to the future and etc. That’s where it lies, but how can I make that happen? Tikkun olam.

Something that’s been greatly on my mind lately is the history of my own family. I never really cared until I started my journey. I lost my last grandparent at age 16, I lost my great aunt who was 101 a few years ago and then last year in 2018, I lost my last blood-related aunt who had great tie-ins with G-d, and daughter of my best grandma. I have absolutely no one in my family to talk to about what they witnessed from the Holocaust or learning about the past from years ago. Everyone is gone. Everyone’s been basically gone for more than half of my age now. I will never be able to talk to them about my journey or what happened or will happen. I’m really sad by that fact. My mom has my grandma’s diaries and about 100ish poems of hers, when I go home, I’m going to go through them and see if I can find any hints of light in those letters or words of hers. I need to inspect her sunset picture that she painted–to see if I can find answers in the colors.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Oy Vey, Shtisel

It’s 1am and I can’t sleep, so what’s a girl to do when that happens? She shall sit in her bedclothes and write by candlelight about the 3 million things taking over her mind….and then later regretting that she can’t sleep when she has to wake in a few hours to do a full days work. Oy. 

I finally started watching Shtisel on Netflix. [We] were reminded of the show by our Rabbi on the last day of class where he gave a description of the characters and situations. I’m only on episode 3 and have noticed so much. It’s a lot to take in at one time. 

There’s a deep recognization of putting on hold ones dreams in order to please the parents to fulfill their wishes. That’s the part that’s really hard to watch. This is for both romantic relationships (almost like pre-arranged marriages) as well as jobs. 

The expectation of everyone needing to be married and women needing to have kids by say teenage years. Oy vey. 

Another is hiding secrets within a family in order to protect them from or within the community. That’s even harder to watch given the situation in one of the storylines. 

Oy vey – all three of those reasons are why things are so screwed up these days. You think you’re doing the right thing when it’s completely more damaging than anything else. Emotionally. Set up expectations to turn into failures and disappointment. Lack of true happiness. 

I love and appreciate the prayer before food or drink. I hope to get to that point. Maybe not so as much, but a simple reminder a few times a day… Thank you G-d for the excessive amount of tacos I eat or the Coca Cola I really shouldn’t be drinking. (But said in Hebrew!)

When I was being raised into the Christian world, I really never understood why we prayed before food, but now that I’ve found what I’ve found and studied to understand… I do appreciate that and the reason why. I just wish I could have those exchanges with both my grandma and aunt who have passed on. 

I also wish I understood Hebrew so that I could close my eyes and just listen to the show, but I only understand the subtitles in English right now. But watching and paying attention is probably more important at this point, because the expressions on their faces speak louder than the words they say. 

As a (sort of) film person, I also really love the darkened quality of the way the film is shot, and each of the scenes.  

One thing I don’t really want to be tainted is… the level of religious like I was with the Christian world. I want to take in every denomination for what it is and appreciate from all of the worlds. For instance, I could never be as strict as Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad but not as lax as say some Reform and Reconstructionist. I want to live and learn as a Conservative Jew (prayers in Hebrew!)—play and do in the Reform world (I mean, hello, Purim Spiels…)—all while appreciating the heck out of the ones who can keep to the Torah, Shabbat and the 613 commandments more than a lot of others (Orthodox, Hasidic, Chabad). 

All I know is that I sincerely love my Jewish life. Do you know how much finding that light within me has done? It’s changed everything. My world has changed. I’m still a mess, but there’s no darkened skies that hold me under the covers for long or no rainstorm that keeps me down. Who in the world would’ve ever thought that I was on my journey to finding my Jewish soul? It’s crazy. All of my life it’s been around me, but I never took that moment, now I’m finding all of these symbols and little hints and just everything. I get it all. 

one light and that’s all she took it 

it took one night 

to fill her soul with so much fire, 

so much desire 

so much… so much.. so much… 

who would’ve guessed the journey 

began there to get her here 

and that she’d dream and wish by 

seeing 11.11, 12:34 and the stars 

at night, all it took was one night 

and that one light that lit her entire soul 

and when she hugs and embraces 

her love, her destiny, she’ll know 

they’ll both know and their hearts will cry 

and sing a song of hope 

and the light would stay lit for all eternity

When I go home, I hope my parents raise their ban against me going in a bookstore because I want to find more Jewish-based books and bring them back with me. (I’m banned because I have told them a million times in the past: I’ll be 5 minutes, and there they are hours later nearly having to drag me out of there by my coat tail. I’ve always been such a bookworm. Ha.) 

Love Always, 

Karen Maeby 

A bittersweet symphony.

Note: This is not about the 80s/90s song that I can’t stand.

Tonight at 6pm-830ish: I will have my very last Intro to Judaism class.

It’s bittersweet, sad, all the words that describe some kind of a loss…one that I’ll be feeling for quite some time.

I remember last year around July, August, September I was sitting down having matzo ball soup and talking to my favorite friend and I was mentioning all the things I was involved in and doing at the time, and she asked me if I was going to take the class, even though I was that busy. There was no answer but YES…becausetherewasnowayIwouldwaituntilthenexttimetheydhavetheclass and I’m so glad I didn’t wait.

With the exception of missing a couple of classes for performance nights (in the beginning), I managed to attend every single class. What a journey it’s been.

(not in order) I’ve attended: Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover holiday events. Several Shabbat Friday evenings, one Saturday. Got to start at my synagogue with the best Rabbi ever, and attended his installment. I went sort-of Kosher with giving up all things pork/ham/etc and cheeseburgers (and discovered that a cuban turkey is the best thing ever). Partook in several fasts. I started this JewishMaeby account first on Instagram then started blogging. Realized my moods matched around the Jewish New Year and Passover. Was in a Purim Spiel. Attended my first Jewish Food Festival. Went to an Art Shabbat. Attended a really cool Sunday of learning. Experienced my first Mitzvah Day. Taking other classes elsewhere to continue my journey. Found my new favorite author, Leslea Newman. Discovered so much beautiful music. Fell even harder for “themed” things (Purim Spiels, Passover music). My writing and poetry and art style has changed greatly.

That little paragraph doesn’t even begin to tell everything in my journey. Just a snippet.

I have learned so much… and probably forgotten so much in between as well. I have learned that my heart still has a huge connection to the Holocaust, and I have a very big longing for enjoyment of learning about all of the holidays and traditions. One of the biggest challenges has been to keep to Shabbat, even though I’m getting a little bit better. I just have to do what’s right for me for Shabbat rules. I really need to work on the prayers. I also need to sit down and learn Hebrew.

I know the question is going to be coming up pretty soon about where is my journey going to take me? Obviously the main goal is to convert. If there are classes or seminars or events, I will attend as many as I can, so I can continue learning. I will try to keep to Shabbat and fix my schedule around that…eventually, hopefully, I’ll be at a place where delegation for taking off for all Jewish holidays will be okay. I would love to grow my brand, write my journey and publish my book, travel around visiting and writing about attending Jewish events or places. I would love to learn Yiddish (on top of Hebrew). And learn how to make all the fantastic snacks that’s made around specific holidays.

There’s so much to still learn and do.

But for tonight, I’ll be mourning this evening….as my first true step into becoming Jewish will be over. (Minus a later class where we’ll meet to follow up wrap up everything sort of class.)

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

TOMORROW IS Yom HaShoah, PLEASE GO TO https://www.illuminatethepast.org to light a candle to remember one of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. I lit a candle for Mose Boiangiu – born in 1925 in Jas, Romania, he died in the Holocaust at age 18.

There really are no words….

…even though there are so many.

I haven’t even been able to collect my feelings during/after reading the book I just finished a couple of days ago, then the shooting in Cali happened, and the broken part of my heart opened a little bit wider to just accept the sadness.

If I could paint a picture: it would be of a broken heart with roses and flowers laying around the edges, on the outside, below the heart with blood just dripping and tears would be the rain that would fall down in the painting that would cause the blood/rain to get mixed up and become such a sad, artistically representation of a mess.

Is it a dangerous time or a brave time to choose to be a Jew at this moment? I’m seeing so much fear. Yes, there are a million reasons to fear (just like fear anything else we fear in our lives), but we need to be brave. You can’t live life fearing every single corner you walk down. That’s just not even right… and that’s giving power to the enemy, and that’s exactly what they want. What happened in the past and what is happening now does not scare me away from wanting to be a Jew. I want this so badly. A Jewish song has always been in my soul and I am finally singing to the tune of it. I am finally embracing a world that has been missing for a really long time. I am feeling passion where I’ve lacked before. I see G-d and G-d is in that light within all of us and all over the world prompting us to do good, be good, and to carry on day to day.

There’s a really sad representation of something or another with the shooting happening on the last day of Passover: a shot to our freedom. Another (unnecessary and terrible) life lesson that freedom isn’t exactly free, and what do we have to give up in order to have? It is yet another reminder that we need to keep fighting. It was just yesterday that the Holocaust happened, #NeverForget? We live in a totally different time where–for some reason–we are marching backwards: women/lgbtq rights are being singled out once again where rights are being stripped away, and minority groups (Jews, immigrants of any kind) are being targeted for all kinds of antisemitism. It will never really go away, as there will always be people in the world that spews out so much hate that even the brightest yellow stars in the night sky will turn black, but we can do something about limiting how much is out there…give everyone a wake up call, make those who have earmuffs on–take them off–and listen before it’s too late. And if we keep doing the same thing over and over again and things still continue to sour, how about lets try something different and see what happens? We really need to start acting fast.

How have these acts effected me as a future Jew? It has made me more emotionally aware and in-tune with the terrible situations. It makes me want to proudly express my star of David anywhere I go. Speaking of which, I have not taken off my star of David necklace since I got it in December and my chai necklace hasn’t come off since April of last year. Every day I fall deeply into my faith, and I value living life…representation of why I never take them off. As far as everything else goes, I am not scared to go to any of my Jewish locations, they’re part of my favorite places to be. I want to be a part of the Jewish future, it will be my pledge, to help change the world and make it a little less anti-s. That’s why I am here. All in due time.

Going back to the book that I read “Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler” – the true story of Trudi Kanter. What a book, what an experience to just read the book. It was so visual and heart breaking that you could visualize exactly what they were going through… which was fear. Fear of walking down the street and being caught, fear of having their belongings taken away, fear of their own life being at stake. Trudi was one brave woman as she did everything to find her way through the system to rescue herself, husband, her family and her hat business that kept them to being able have the money to make deals to keep their life going. There were so many risks involved.

I can’t believe that book was once out of print for a really long time until someone found it and decided to republish it again. I was so lucky to have gone to the bookstore in the mall–that I haven’t been to in ages–to find this book… (once again, my intuition told me go, that I would find something there) and, I did.

This book inspired me to create a play: I wrote the overall synopsis, beginning and ending planned out. It may take me a while to work on it, but the story is there.

This is how we’re going to keep our past alive to teach the future….by telling stories.

Love Always
Karen Maeby

Day 3&4 Counting the Omer

Today is still day 3 of Counting the Omer and tonight will be day 4. I decided to look up Counting the Omer and the reason I point this out is because I’m getting really freaked out now about how closely Judaism is representing every aspect of my life. Not just…. Rosh Hashanah and Passover and things in between…but Counting the Omer too? (I’m posting direct content from aish.com.)

I was looking on aish.com again: day 3–say it out loud.

Take a moment and think: “What am I living for?”
Now try saying out loud: “I am living for…”

Why is “Saying It Out Loud” a Way to Wisdom?

  • “Saying it out loud” helps you clarify fuzzy ideas.
  • Articulation is objectivity.
  • The more senses you involve, the more of an impression it leaves on you.
  • What you speak is an expression of who you are.
  • Everyone needs a sounding board, a feedback system. Do it yourself!
  • Never say, “I can’t.” Because then you won’t, even if you could.
  • Language is the bridge where body meets the soul.
  • Talking aloud keeps you from falling asleep and day-dreaming.
  • Words are reality. “To say is to be!”

Day 4 from aish.com- understanding of the heart / introduce yourself to yourself

Did you ever get on a train going somewhere, only to find that you’re headed in the wrong direction?

The same thing happens in life. We set goals and make plans – and sometimes discover that we’re on “the wrong train.”

Often a crisis hits at midlife when people ask: “What’s my life about? Is this all worth it?” We’ve heard stories of people who suddenly change direction, quitting their job and getting divorced. You know, like the successful doctor who decides he never wanted to go into medicine in the first place – so he drops it and becomes an artist.

  • What is the purpose of life?
  • What is my goal in life?
  • Why did I choose this career?
  • How do I spend my spare time?
  • What is my motivation for doing what I do?
  • What really makes me happy?
  • Am I as happy as I want to be?
  • Is it more important to be rich or to be happy?
  • What are my future plans? Why?
  • What are my secret dreams and ambitions?

Last night, I had two separate conversations with two different friends and they both literally said the same thing regarding my life and they way they see me: I’m not doing what I love anymore, and I’m just not living up to my true potential. Life is too short to be unhappy and settling for less than I deserve. There’s too much out there. Opportunities that one would never thought to exist. They’re both right… you never know where an opportunity will take someone. By the 49th day, I sure hope to have my answer. I will be letting the Omer guide me the next 49 days to my own revolution, and hopefully by Shavout, there will be a new light.

Oh and the stuff from aish.com? Those were questions that kept popping up during my conversations. Looks like I have work to do.

One last thing before I go… when I was talking to one of my friends last night, I mentioned about my connection with feeling the way I do over Passover months and Sept/Oct being brand new start. She said that’s really strange because most people get really happy when spring is near because of the blooms and everything comes to life and then get sad and depressed in the fall. It’s the opposite for me. I struggle in the spring, I want the new year in the fall. It’s been that way my entire life. Now I have an explanation, I’m still a little freaked out how real this is becoming…. and now with these individual life lessons per day counting the Omer. Why is this happening?

I have really been a lost Jewish soul all this time, and I am really coming home.

I actually want to cry right now.

Love Always, Karen Maeby

The philosophy of my journey, writing and TV shows.

I have an idea. Yes, you should be scared when I say that, because it’s almost like when Lucille Ball said she had an idea. We’ll get to my idea momentarily though.

This weekend, I binge watched almost every single episode of all three seasons of Kim’s Convenience Store which follows a Korean-Canadian family who owns the store and deals with the day to day life. I love it. It shows character, culture, and is superbly relatable (in situations / relationships) and yet again, is one of those shows that the world needs.

Now point the focus back to Jewish-based shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Mrs. Maisel and–shows that I haven’t seen but read about–Broad City and Shtisel. I’m sure there’s more to be had. From where I stand, as a future Jew, I really sincerely felt like we needed more Jewish soul in television. Now, before my journey, I hadn’t paid attention to any of this but now that I’m on my journey, experiencing and embracing Jewish life, I’m falling so hard and I want to watch tv shows that embrace Judaism or have Jewish characters to relate to. Again, I think the timing is kind of perfect, because the Universe needs to call out to those hidden Jewish souls and allow them to find themselves being drawn to (like I was), and then, for those who were born into Jewish families but no longer practice… they should be revived. This should be Judaism’s revolution–and we should stand tall to antisemitism–be brave to stomp the hate out. It’s more than important that we remember our history–traditions from way back when all the way to forever teaching the Holocaust even when there are no more survivors left. We have to be ready for that.

Last night when I was trying to go to sleep I was recalling the moments I’ve had the past six months or so….and here’s my idea….as I am writing the book about the beginning of my journey, I should also write my story into a TV show. With 50% fiction/non-fiction….and why not let it be Anna’s Serendipity that I continue writing on? I already have story lines, true to life characters, and I’ve been writing down ideas for the future of that, even when I didn’t really know where I was going to take it. (Thinking it’d be a full length play then movie, but why not a continuing series for a while?) I could write some of the more important characters in remembrance to a few close friends/family members who have passed on. It would be in dedication to my grandma and aunt who were both G-dly people and of whom I had a strong bond….. And I would get to share my vision from a future convert’s point of view. How beautiful would that be? I could fill up an entire notebook right now just for the holiday episodes.

Watching the ending of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was partially the inspiration for my idea. The ending was amazing, even though, it was kind of predictable (but in a more of a life lessony sort of way, if you were truly into studying the characters and story line) the way that she found herself after all that time and came face to face what she really wanted to do. It was a beautiful ending, really, and for those of us who are tethering on the edge of something or another: it gives us hope.

Rachel Bloom, the writer and one who played Rebecca in this show, said she saw her series as 4 seasons. I admire that. She wrote it, her story, and made it happen.

Now, I am going to do that with mine… and hope that Rachel Bloom and her team will one day see the scripts of my TV show and want to do something with it. One can only hope. Here’s to sending my dream out to the Universe.

Always,
Karen Maeby