[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

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.

BookISH thoughts.

Last night instead of doing our actual intro class we combined with the journeys history video class after Minyan once again. It was actually mine and another classmates idea last class after we heard that the woman who is over the Holocaust Museum was going to be there to speak, and the video class was on schedule to talk about the Holocaust at the same time we were, so it worked out. The topics were divided between talking about the Holocaust and feminism in Judaism.

There were several different questions and comments to the class last night that I wish had written them down or recorded it. Besides our Rabbi, I think I might’ve been the youngest by a decent number of years, so answers were provided with experience and some major change over the decades. One comment that stood out to me was referenced to the feminism part–that if things in Judaism weren’t changing to be more gender neutral, she wouldn’t even be sitting there right now. I get it. Oh, I totally get it. It had always been pressed that women had their place in the home, taking care of the kids, and that was that… in Orthodoxy, women are separate from men. There’s a whole other thing that goes with Judaism from years and years ago that I haven’t even looked into yet… and may not want to… I can’t help but to think how sexist all of that is. I mean, ever since the day I was born, I wanted nothing to do with the typical female assigned roles… have kids, have no dreams (other than that), bend over to your man, give him everything, have you seen the actual ads from 1950s-1970s that relate to that? Oy vey. What were those people thinking? Yuck. It should always be–equality for all and treat one another with respect and love and kindness. When one gives or takes or needs or does, roles reverse, vice versa. It’s only fair.

I think honestly I found Judaism at a good time…where LGBTQ rights and feminism is (coming back) quite strong and acceptance is more tolerable (maybe not the right word) but I’m seeing Judaism opening a whole lot more than other religions at this point in time, and they’re trying more than others it seems… or maybe it’s because Judaism today is open for a lot of questions and that is the actual answer, because we can question everything without being hung up to dry on a clothesline, so to speak. One could also argue that we’re falling back in time to a more darker age again with the new age antisemitism and challenging of rights for certain groups and etc. I won’t go there today though.

Because I’ve been trying to stay focused with my intro class’s topics or what falls within the holidays at the time, I haven’t even looked into the feminism part of Judaism. I would like to read more on that and find the fem-Jewish writers, I would like to do so much more on a lot of what I don’t know or haven’t read… but I have to choose my battles right now. I don’t want to go on brain overload or become burnt out like everything else.

Back to the Holocaust though… It’s official, I can’t even be in the room while talking about this anymore without my eyes welling up with tears. It’s so close to my heart. I had to keep looking up at the ceiling so I wouldn’t cry. I think that before class is officially over, we’re going to be taking a trip to the museum. I am definitely going to save private time for myself to go on Yom HaShoah again.

The other day I was going through my writing and came across pages from a journal that I had to write in 8th grade English. I posted the letter on Instagram, but if you were like me at first, I couldn’t even read what I wrote. I want to post here because we’re on the subject of what I wrote about…. There’s definitely grammar issues and you could clearly see that I didn’t know about the Holocaust at that time. That changed later though… we studied it in school at some point, I did a book review in 11th grade on Anne Frank, and I continued on my studying outside of school.

10/18/1999 (I would’ve been 12. That’s 20 freaking years ago…. Holy crap. Where has time gone?)
TOPIC: Why would anyone pour their heart out in a diary? Tell what you know about the Holocaust.

I think they pour their heart out in a diary because probably no one will listen to them or they just don’t want to share stuff with anyone. In Anne Frank’s case she had not a lot of people to talk to and maybe she wanted us the future people to know about her and the Holocaust. And also you write in a diary to show thoughts and feelings and so on for the future. I know a little about the Holocaust only that several people got killed and hurt and all of the Jews were treated badly and the whole thing about treating the Holocaust badly was bad.

*

ON ANOTHER SUBJECT, I was thinking how I really, really, really need to work on the beginning of my Jewish journey book. I want to share with the world and inspire people with my story and help others who are just waiting for that “spark” so to speak. How awesome would that be to be the inspiration or a sort of role model for others to convert or come back to Jewish life after stepping away for so long?

The following is mostly a public note to myself for the book I need to sit down and write.

Things I want to include in my Jewish journey book. (I will have to divvy these things into parts and chapters that make sense.) :

  • The long version of the very beginning of my story: from finding the light to what I told my aunt before she died all the way to slowly finding my way in the community.
  • 2018: the first visit to my 3rd home in Jan (which I think was my actual first anything into the Jewish community, because I didn’t know a thing or go to a synagogue at that point), first time watching any service (Central Synagogue in NY, online), going to the Holocaust Museum for the first time (here in FL, along with first time since starting the journey) and on Yom HaShoah, my first real temple visit (Sarasota), the first time to my synagogue (Pride), waiting on the new Rabbi so I could officially start with him (perfect timing), joining intro class, my unofficial early Rosh Hashanah and the real one on my own, my first fast at Yom Kippur, my first Sukkot (oh man, I really hope I wrote something down about this somewhere), tree of life, my first Hanukkah. I’m sure I’m missing a whole lot of things in here.
  • 2019: my first Sat Shabbat Service / installation weekend, my first Purim show and first Purim service, my first Mitzvah Day, etc. etc. (eventually… finishing up the intro class, etc.) – still working on 2019.
  • things from childhood / teen years that came back around
  • poetry
  • a couple of plays if they’re actually finished by then
  • Dear Anne Frank story
  • future dreams for living a Jewish future (a rather large to do list of what I want to do)

Whoa. Now that I’ve put everything out there… I have so much to put into this book already. I don’t even need to wait. It needs to be written and sealed, so I can prepare for the next book when the actual conversion/etc will take place. I think my beginning will be pure and wholesome. I hope. It gives me hope, so I want it to do the same for others.

Fun fact: Sometimes I have the most inappropriate thoughts at times when I shouldn’t. For instance, last night, somehow my mind turned to remembering A Christmas Story, and how their Christmas dinner got ruined and they had to go eat at a Chinese place for Christmas. I remembered how I always thought that was very cool and unique to do something different. I mean, seriously, how right was I?! Very!

I think I have always been a Jewish soul, I just needed to find my way at perfect timing. Everything happens for a reason and everything has its season.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Keeping Kosher

Tonight’s chapter in my Jewish class was about Kosher food. However, we only made it half way through because we ended up crashing the other class that was going on.

I wanted to say something, though, and eventually come back to it.

So I made the change of declaring no more pork/ham/bacon/etc. around Hanukkah 2018–and have kept to that–so during class I was wondering what my next step would be.

-Stop eating at certain fast food restaurants where I know very well they don’t mind to the rules, even if it’s just something like: treatment of animals (super important).
-Check labels like a habit. I have done this some, but “some” doesn’t cut it. This also will help me to stop eating food (like, artificial crap) that I shouldn’t eat.
-Note to not mix meat/dairy. Which may be a big problem when it comes to tacos. Oy vey. I’ve got some serious work to do on that. Do I go entirely Vegetarian on my tacos? Or continue eating cheese with chicken. That’ll have to be last on my list. Eating tacos is super important to me.
-Red meat with blood: even though I don’t eat steak very much, maybe once in a blue moon, I’m going to have issues with this one because I can’t stand steak when it’s fully cooked. Either I break that rule or just avoid eating it altogether.
-Back to the meat/dairy: on a conscious level, I have not been able to eat a cheeseburger though I have been hungry for it, and have avoided Five Guys like no others ever seen.
-I’m going to have issues with shrimp. Even though I also haven’t eaten this in a long time, shrimp is freaking amazing, yes… I know it’s a sin to even probably mention that on my page as a future convert… but it is. really. delicious.
-Any other seafood that isn’t fish? I don’t have a problem with stopping eating it. I used to eat crab until I started raising hermit crabs (in 2015) and haven’t been able to eat any since. Conscious decision.

So anyway. I have some work to do. I was thinking in 6 months (from Hanukkah), I do another inventory take of my eating habits and cut something else out. Just have to figure out which one to cut.

I eventually want to eat pure Kosher as much as I can, but this is also eating more on a healthy side… and a conscious level going into knowing it really isn’t good to do certain things when I want to be Jewish.

But, I’m okay with that, you know?

More on this subject at a later time. Oh! We have an assignment to go to a normal grocery story and pick out certain items that’s Kosher and write it all down. I’m writing it down here in hopes I’ll remember to do that. Next week we’ll finish this chapter and then start one on poets/philosophers/etc. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THAT ONE!

Always,
Karen Maeby