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

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

Almost midnight thoughts after my first Passover Seder.

Forgive me G-d for I am breaking two distinct rules of Shabbat: writing and being on technology but there’s no way I’m going to remember this once I wake up because of my almost awful memory these days. And, wine. Much. Much. Wine. 

Wow. What a first Passover Seder. I don’t have any idea when it actually started nor ended. So I have that going for me. I got lost in time! Too busy making memories! And laughing for the first time in a while.

The food was so freaking delicious and there was so much foooooood. Soooo much fooooooood. I’m trying to sustain my weight here (a year or two after a major weight loss) and the food just kept coming out! My normal food schedule is eating a meal once a day! (Or very small things all day if I need to eat that way.) Oy vey. At one point, I told the guy who was handing out food “NO MORE!” and he’s like “Are youuuuu tapping out?! THERE ARE NO QUITTERS HERE!” Haaaah.  My entire table was laughing so hard. Yes. I had whine. Much wine. Bwahha. 

But anyway, on a more serious note. My 3rd family sure serves up some super duper delicious food. I can’t believe this entire time I’ve only had soup there (and turkey sandwich at the beginning)…but it’s my tradition to have *my* soup, conversation and do a little writing! But some traditions were made to be broken, right?! Well, Maeby. (But I did have the matzah ball soup and oh yummmy…..! That was so good and hit the spot just right that I wanted to cry. Yeah. Weird. Maybe wine?)

I have been craving pickles so badly and I got them! OH AND THAT EGG I WAS TALKING ABOUT? It didn’t come with glitter or colour, but I got it! I got my one egg. My entire month is made. I’m very satisfied. See? That didn’t take much to make me happy. Pickles and one egg. And soup! 

So, the wine. I am not much a wine drinker and by the end, I was toast. I ended up staying after and helping the helpers clean up. Met some amazing people that I didn’t know and had amazing conversations. Met the president, and he recognized me as a writer (which I’m not quite sure how people know this? Sometimes I’m happy being recognized then I get a little freaked out in another sense. It’s weird. I guess I just need to get used to it.) 

Overall, what did I think? 

What an awesome experience. I sat with my intro class. We told the story, sang a bit, ate and went back at it in the Haggadah. We all shared a lot of laughs, had great conversations and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. 

I even tried gefilte fish for the first time!!

This won’t be the last of my Passover blog entries, we’ve got an entire week left to talk about it. Oh and on the same topic….no bread all week. This’ll be interesting of what kind of menu I’ll be coming up with….Stay tuned. I might live off pickles for a while! 

Always, Karen Maeby 

PS – I might also have to sober up this post. 

My first ever Mitzvah Day.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I had missed the Mitzvah Days where I normally go to shul or know people, so I asked to join in with CBS up north when I found out they were going to have this day coming up.

I walk in, being greeted by anyone that I passed by, on the way to speak to the volunteer coordinator. She says hi, gives me a hug right away and introduces me to a thousand people. Everyone was so nice! Hugs as hellos!

I didn’t sign up for any specific job, I told them to put me where they needed me and they needed me where someone had switched to another group.

My group went to the Gulf Coast Jewish / Family Services in Clearwater and organized their food pantry. In a way, I secretly hoped that I would get to go to Gulf Coast, because someone else had told me about it, and I wanted to see what they were about. So. Answered wish!!!!!

While there… we cleaned all of their shelves, reorganized them, took out donations from bags and boxes, and pretty much got everything in order. Then swept and mopped the floor. I’ll post pictures on Instagram where you can see what work went into it, and ways to help if you’re in the TB area.

It was a very nice and quick turnaround of getting things done with the right amount of people. I’m so glad I got to help with this because I found yet another place I want to donate my time (or maybe work at someday, who knows what can happen). I just know I enjoy helping people who need it. There’s a feeling of accomplishment and happiness today…. definitely better than my strange and severe anxiety ridden Shabbat. Today made up for that. It was also another reminder that yes, I need to be less of a goy and become better in the kitchen, learn things and etc, but I still have that big desire to work in food after I had my chance to dip my toe in for a little taste of the crazy busy days once upon a time. In the end, I have to say it was definitely the most satisfying days I’ve ever worked. Ever. (I think 99% of this has to do with comparison to my most worked volunteer job as a stage manager. Food service is almost like that in a way. The way you have to prepare what’s being ordered upon you or by request–for catering–that would be called our directors to stage managers prep; then the daily stuff you know you have to do without question. Same thing happens in theatre, just not with food (except sometimes).

After we finished, we sat down and ate a little lunch and chatted. So funny because everyone I was with had different kind of nails–one or two had the glittery ones like me–and a few were talking about getting them done again or redoing them. I’ve never been around a more group of women who talked about their nails…can someone answer if this is a Jewish thing? Because, I’m right there, glitter and all… I was born into it, baby. Ha.

I really like everyone I met at CBS… so much that I am going to somehow fit them into my rotation as well. I plan on attending classes or events where I can….. Events all over the place! And then, build some sort of Shabbat rotation in my calendar (I now I have 4 shuls I can attend).

For my book, I really need to write down my firsts for every place so I can give credit where credit is due. My first Mitzvah Day goes down in the books to CBS… thank you for such a fun welcome and a wonderful day. I love you all!

Always,
Karen Maeby

PS #2 – Closing Day

WOW WOW WOW WOOOOOWWWW. Can I just say WOW once again? Yesterday was THE MOST AMAZING DAY I’ve had in such a long time. That energy has really sunk into my skin and is currently still in it today. I am feeding off yesterday for sure, like fuel…. like food…. like coffee.

First of all, it was Purim festivities day at the Temple and so I got to see and talk to several family members from my synagogue. There was this gigantic slide–it looked like so much fun–but I’m terrified of heights and going up that ladder probably would’ve sent me over the edge. I only had ~10 minutes to really take a gander at what was going on before we had a small rehearsal for the dance numbers and one or two songs.

Our closing show went very well, and we even had some surprises up on stage (during the contestants scene) that wasn’t even in Saturday night’s performance nor practiced in rehearsals. It was so funny. We were all cracking up on stage.

After the show was over, we mingled with the audience, and then had an unofficial official cast party–ate small snacks and talked–then we gathered together in the Temple lobby to watch Saturday night’s performance. Of course, we laughed and sang along to everything… what else would we do? But on another note, this is seriously the first time that I have ever watched a performance that I had either been in or a part of… even with all of the shows I’ve worked (with the exception of JS’s Peter Pan). As someone who works productions, and wants to expand and grow, I think it’s super important to do this…. to see where one needs to improve for next time…. and it can definitely be a blast to see yourself and everyone and say “Hey… we did it!”

I can’t say it enough how thankful I am that I had joined in with the Purim Spiel. I have met so many new great supportive people with love that just pours out of them. I wrote an email to everyone sharing about my journey and why/what this experience meant to me, and the responses back have been incredible (even with a few offers, suggestions or opportunities on the table). Some of them have shared their story with me. I’m feeling so lucky right now. Talking about everything happening for a reason.

And now, for speaking about being at the right place at the right time… after I left the Temple, I went to Tijuana Flats (something inside me told me to go there). I ran into a close friend from the theatre that I haven’t spoken to in ages. We caught up, I got to meet her friend she’s always talking about, and I’ve been invited to crash and sit in on some of their rehearsals. I think I will get to work one of the productions in May, but trying to see about the production going on during Passover because I’m uncertain what sedar(s) and events I will need to attend for my journey and for/with my Jewish class.

So, needless to say, I have reconciled with everyone that I have needed to, which puts me at a really happy and positive place…. and I have connected with a ton of new people that I have a feeling that will be dear friends for life.

To life.. .to life.. l’chaim to life… Judaism has given me so much life that I just don’t even know what to say right now…

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

PS #1 – Opening Night

Opening night of our PurimSpiel “That’s ESTHERtainment” was amaaaaazing! I was really calm before we started, excited when the curtain opened, nervous during the dance, a little shaky when I did my line, then afterwards…it was natural.

I think the best part was definitely the contestant line for “Need a Lady”. Everyone was laughing, because we have some surprises in there. What a fun, fun, fun gig. And I liked the fact that we didn’t need to be absolutely serious up on stage and we could laugh, sway, smile and just be happy.

And can I gush over our band? I love/love/love when they play Vashti’s song to the tune of “Under the Sea” — it’s the most coolest sound in the world.

On a personal note: It’s been a little over a month since last stage managing and then November was the last time I was on stage (as a first time actor). I must say–I have missed the rush of butterflies, lights/camera/action, then the energy that is given throughout the show and the feeling once it’s over. I have missed that. I love shows so much, it’s silly I’ve missed so many of them. Oh and…it is pretty amazing being involved in something musical once again after 15 years.

I had a few members of family spread among the audience, got to meet some new folks, and one of the band members (who actually has his own band) had been talking to me like he knows me or something. We finally exchanged names today. It’s funny, I always end up friends with the band. No matter where I go. I’m just fancy like that, I guess.

Some of my family said, “You’re in a show but you’re still doing stage managing things!?!?!” Ha. Yes, indeed….that will never end.

Tomorrow is the Purim carnival thingy…..and the closing day of our show… then we’ll have a cast party because some of our people will be going back up north for the summer.

I am truly so happy to have been a part of this PurimSpiel and to have met who I met at TBI. I loved every bit of this opportunity to dip my toes back into music. And, guess what? I did a thing: I went out of my comfort zone, joined an event where I practically knew no one, went back to something I loved in the past that I gave up, and even embraced every part that I had with no fear.

I love my new TBI family endlessly: they have treated me very well, like I’m one of them and like I belong there. It’s so pleasant to just fit in, be yourself, without the feeling of needing to impress someone. I really cannot wait until we all meet again to do this next year (yes, it’s already on my calendar).

Until tomorrow… closing day. A sad violin will play… and the energy of tonight’s show will keep me up way past midnight….

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

PS – I think I’m just going to live in my black tights, dance shirt and glittery hat.

New goal.

I want to learn Yiddish. Like, really badly. I already know (and have been trying to) use the words I recognize and understand…but in a way, I am also good at figuring out what the sentence means too….even though I don’t know!

I want to write plays and poetry in Yiddish!

I also want to know why these books are italicizing Yiddish words. It’s something I’ve noticed in multiple books now. But there’s a glossary at the end that tells what each word means.

PS. This book is amazing, I’m only in the first few chapters and it is making me cry!

UPDATE: I wrote the above last night before bed. For some reason, my bedtime has been unusually early around 9-930pm the last several weeks (maybe months?). I just can’t stay up… unless I have rehearsal, late meetings or something, and in that case, I’m on the road traveling back home. Well, the downfall of that early bedtime is waking up at the 3 or 4am hour… the last couple of days (maybe weeks), I’ve been woken wide awake at 3/4am…so it’s currently 438am and I’m awake. I finally decided I’m just going to get out of bed and work. I’ve already gathered up trash ready to take out, I cleaned out Havali’s aquarium and changed her food/water, made coffee, and sitting here listening to….

The Yiddish Book Center’s podcast aka The Shmooze. The same center that was founded by the author of the book I mentioned above. What a treat to have found that…and not only that, but there is an entire library full of Yiddish books to read for free on there. I cannot even dive into that until my Intro to Judaism class is over. I have to focus on that first! But nonetheless, it’s there.

Hey, there’s something else about this early 3-4am hour. I feel refreshed and I feel like maybe I can get some writing done before the world wakes up.

And on another note, I really want to travel around to all these Jewish places. It’s so important. Maybe one day I will be that writer of importance to be able to do that…. with the always dream of coming back to being embraced by the comfort of my third home, matzo ball soup and writing on my experiences to share and publish to the world.

One can only dream. … . and eventually do.

Love Always,
Karen Maeby

Esther, it’s getting closer.

Good morning! 

The only thing on my mind right now is PURIM! Well, maybe not the only thing on my mind…but just about. I’m having so much fun with the Purim Spiel. I was given yet another part today. I’m going to be one of the contestants. Our cantor gave me a dress to wear. It’s interesting, and for playing dress up. Not a fancy, fancy dress. I think I have to partake in 3 costume changes now. I’ve never done that before. 

One of the ladies had a wig and she mentioned that it was red and I’m like suuuure I’ll wear it but then I saw it. I was like, “I should have looked at it before I said yes.” (I said that very much out loud and everyone laughed.) I tried putting it on, but said no thanks, because I would’ve looked like a sister to Wendy (like the fast food place). I also went against everything I’m about by doing that. I have the biggest and deepest fear about wearing other people’s hats or wigs…. And now I’m just very, very itchy even hours later thinking about it. Ughhhhhhhh! Oy. But nonetheless, I guess I’m going to color my hair some funky color instead. However, this is the strangest thing for me, since stripping my hair of Hanukkah blue (which later turned black)….I just don’t even want to color my hair anymore. Which is weird. Have I become boring? What’s wrong with me? Me not color my hair? Am I ill? Ever since seeing a few distinct gray hairs…I just want to leave it alone and let the gray show. Weird. Right? I think I will do temporary color for the first time in my life (maybe pink?) and I need to find that hair glitter….you better believe I will be glittering it out. Eyes. Fingernails. Hair. Everything. In almost every place. 

Our cantor’s wife was there tonight and she’s like,”the more glitter, the better” and I literally screamed out from across the room “YESSSSSS! GLITTER.” I really don’t know what my fascination is with glitter but it’s there. Maybe my atoms are made with sparkle, therefore, when I was born it was just deeply embedded inside of me. Or maybe it’s because I was “allergic to it when I was a child” and couldn’t wear it so now I’m making up for it. 

I don’t know. I just know I love me some glitter. And lots of it! 

Also happy to report one more (Jewish) Corset Line member is in the Spiel! She was so excited to see me, as I her. Very good person. Our Purim Spiel dancers are going to be wearing the same outfits as Corset Line for the last number! I remember saying to myself while watching those dancers dance “I sure wish I could do this and wear those outfits” and boom! Wish granted. Still wrong Genie, but hey. It’s something. 

I need to write about this WONDERFULLY AMAZING Jewish book I that read that included several people’s narrative stories but I’ll save it for the middle of the week. I just love the heck out of these Jewish books I’ve been reading. There’s something magic in the spirit of the words contained on those pages that are so much different and better than any other. I have found my light source. L’chaim. ♥️

(PS. Ultimate countdown until my day off on Shabbat. I just need to get through Monday first, the Taco Tuesday and the rest of the week will be a breeze.) 

Love always, Karen Maeby 

A big decision whilst on my journey.

Before my class tonight, I got a chance to briefly discuss with my Rabbi “what’s up” and here is the big decision I kind of only really have a few days to make…..…in January when everything else was happening, my dad ended up back in the ER again, then to emergency surgery. From there, he found out that he had another heart attack (and didn’t know it) somewhere in between the last 6 months. The surgery was to put a stint in (for another 75% blockage around his heart), gave him lots of new pills, has to wear a defibrillator and now has to attend therapy for his heart. He has an upcoming appointment to see what other tests reveal, and they just told my mom he has a heart murmur (which may not be a big deal, but we’ll see). With my dad going through this and what he previously went through, it just makes me wonder…

My life hasn’t been “this open” for two or three years now, because I have taken on commitment after commitment without stopping. It’s kind of scary, actually, to think how there’s nothing for me to commit to right at the moment. Is this happening for a reason? Why did everything happen in January like it did? Is there any way that things weren’t mine for a reason at that time and maybe another time would be right, when knowledge is learnt, growth on different levels happen, and more experience to be had? Everything does happen for a reason, this I know. 

I think my Jewish class will end in April, my Purim Spiel will end in March and that’s it for any commitments I still have. My writer’s group is now all mine so I can do whatever with that. There won’t be any more theatre openings for a wee bit, and the last one for now ended about 2 weekends ago. For some strong reason, my intuition is telling me to not take on any more things. Something is telling me the cut off is end of April (basically May). 

So what does this come down to? Leaving for about 4-6 months to spend time with my parents. I have only seen them 1 time each year for the last 10. But leaving would not that simple, there’s so much to take care of to tie loose ends up for a few months, the goodbyes (which I’m terrible at and would rather sneak out of town), making amends before I leave (just in case something happens to me that I wouldn’t get to), wondering what will happen when/if I’m gone and what happens when I come back…etc. On the leaving part: there’s spending time with them, and going through their house liked they’ve asked me to do on every visit, but we haven’t because every visit has been short. There’s saying goodbye to my historical family house. And—the biggest things of all—nothing says growth like facing the monsters of the past. There have been so many things about myself and my past that I’ve uncovered, that I just want to go face them off to make them ago away so that I can move on… maybe Judaism is helping me in ways I never thought. There’s also exploring the Jewish part of town I had never gotten to know, seeing friends and family I haven’t seen in eons, possibly going up north to see old property, and the chance I can drive myself to see Jerry Springer at his political podcast show (don’t judge)….

When I told my Rabbi I was really stuck with what to do, he’s like, “what does this mean for your spiritual journey?” (And then at the end of class he requested that we talk more.) 

What does it mean? 

Well, my journey to Judaism is everything to me, so I would never, ever allow anything to stand in its way. My life has changed so much because of following this path and discovering it… and I’m discovering myself—what beauty that is (crazy and all)—I am finally trying to figure out who I am after all this time, and digging deeper into my soul like I tried when I was younger and failed. 

What am I already doing? Way back when, I already started following the Jewish Federation and some of the synagogues in the next town over from my parents. So, I have places to go and people to reach out to if I do make this decision. 

Even if I don’t make this decision to leave, this is only a few things I have thought about for my future of learning Judaism and sticking to my journey to convert. 

-Really learn Hebrew through a class
-Participate in holidays as they come around
-Keep reading all that I can, take notes, be a good student and then write about it
-Go back through chapters and really dig further into the information, learn and write about it.
-Continue going to services on a regular basis.
-Do events with wherever I end up, just like I do now, with CBI, TBI, TB-E
-See if the Rabbis can keep in touch about my progressed journey, so that I won’t get left behind …I would only want to convert with CBI, though. (but what happens to my soul/body if something happens to me and I’m not converted yet… a whole other issue… who will read this and remember to let people know that I would like for my religion to be respected, etc.)
-Keep Kosher (with whatever promises I make)
-How can I become more involved in the community—to do good? to bring people together? to help out? to inspire? to engage with the future of Judaism? to become someone important? to become knowledgable enough to teach? all. the. things. 

And those are just half my thoughts after that small conversation. The other half is, what am I actually going to be able to fit in the seat of my tiny barbie car? I mean… there’s all that glitter, Jewish books, clothes, notebooks, technology. Oy vey. 

I have so much to think through, so much work to do. It is not an easy decision. There’s variables on every side. But… for some reason… this phrase/quote from my front page—“There comes a point where you must surrender your dreams to get to where you need to be.” It’s been yelling at me since the start of this year… that maybe I’m trying too hard to make dreams come true, and I need to step away for a while, and let it all happen on its own while I work on my journey. Maybe that’s the key, the answer I’ve been looking for. We’ll see. 

Love Always,
Karen Maeby 

A Very Jewish Weekend

Going backwards in time (from Sunday, Saturday, Friday)…..(I am insanely dyslexic tonight with my words, so if anything doesn’t make sense, I am so sorry… it also doesn’t help that spell check on my computer keeps spell checking everything wrong, then it makes me hit the wrong button. I think my computer is possessed.) 

SUNDAY, AT 3PM: was the installation for my Rabbi! It was such a beautiful and wonderful ceremony. While listening to everyone speak, I was recollecting about my start…. how for the first six months was just trying to research places/things/feelings of Judaism, then in June I acted upon going to my (now) synagogue for the first time. I heard there was a new Rabbi in town, and so I literally went to that one Shabbat, then waited until his first Shabbat in July to return. I can’t believe that I became so lucky as to have found my way into this world shortly before he came along. Any sooner and it wouldn’t have been good, and any longer, it wouldn’t have been perfect timing. So to be in sitting in the synagogue and watching him being installed was just such an honor. His favorite music group was there and they were really good! Who would’ve ever thought coming from where I come from that I’d ever like bluegrass music… but the way they mixed bluegrass and Jewish sound was wonderful. After the ceremony was over, I ran into some family that I am ultimately grateful to have seen since I miss them very much, then I sat with my Intro to Judaism classmates and had dessert. I am… “desserted” out. I’m done with the sweets. Ugh! (I did not get any pictures of this event, though I should have at least caught our Rabbi up on stage being honored by the band.) 

SUNDAY, AT 10AM: I drove up north to the food festival. I was there until about noon. I guess I’m just not meant to be in the sun anymore. I felt like I was going to have another heat stroke, so I had to sit down and call it quits. Oy vey. In other news, the FF was wonderful. DID YOU SEE THE SHIRT? It said “original Jewish penicillin” with matzo ball soup on it. I LOVE IT. So anyway.. this event… as I was chatting with some pals there, it’s just another reminder how much I loveLOVEloveLOVElove events. The intense work you put into it, then getting to see everyone you can and talking your face off, only for the event to be over in a blink of an eye. Sounds a bit like theatre, aye? Anyway. Pictures and video can be found on my instagram. I walked around half a dozen times, listened to the band, ate some whitefish on bagel, drank some Dr Browns, went surfing for sweets, talking to everyone that had a booth, someone thought I was 20-something (thank you for that), signed up for Jewish Press paper (yay! more pony express treats!), talked to a Jewish genealogy group (and told them about my journey and when I ask my family about if anyone’s Jewish in my family—how they quickly change the subject and don’t want to talk about it), and so much more…. I hung out with our very own “Reenie” from A Corset Line, as well as our lovely writer / producer of the group.. and had a great time talking about things including a future plan for their group and possibly a future for me there as well. So, that’s a thing, and I think it may work. I now have to decide if I want to plan my involvement in anything around here past April, or let it be the end, and I leave May 1st and come back around Rosh Hashanah. It’s a tough decision, but only one I can make…

SATURDAY, afternoon: I caught up with reading magazines and read my first letter that I got from a penpal list. Basically, didn’t do too much else. 

SATURDAY, morning: Went to my first ever Shabbat morning services. Well, I’m really glad I waited until this weekend to go. Since I’ve never been—and usually, when I have Central Synagogue’s Saturday services on, I’m only listening and doing other things—so seeing the Torah being carried around and back, and the way everyone reacts,…. it is so powerful. I love it. But wow, Sat services are long. I know I probably shouldn’t say that, but. 

FRIDAY, night: I returned back to my Shabbat Fridays! Oh it was a miracle. I haven’t been in so long due to shows scattered all over the place, so it felt good to be back. 

Overall, what a wonderful Jewish based weekend. I hope I can continue growing, learning and doing in all of the Jewish environments whenever it is time to do so. This Faith is a beautiful one, and I am so happy to have found it. I don’t have the program next to me to share what piece of the Torah we read on Saturday, but when I was reading through the pages, I saw something on there that kids should not be taught Judaism or something of that nature because it is too powerful to understand at a young age (worded much different than this, but you get the picture)…. Maybe that’s why, and the for the reason, I didn’t even think to look into Judaism until age 31. To love and appreciate all the things… because it is much deeper than one realizes. 

What a weekend… what a weekend… what a weekend… ! 

PS – I have a new “soup play” that I wrote back in January for my 3rd home fam that was going towards their full length play (with 10 core stories tied in). However, I don’t think it’s going to be able to make it into that full length because I can’t figure out how to stage it correctly, so it’s just going to become a future story for my book. It’s posted here… enjoy. It’s the very, very, very rough draft without any designated names, questions still in the air, and whatnot. I can’t share the other stuff I’ve written because I told my writer’s group that I do not want any of their full work posted online that we’ll be doing for shows, and I have to keep to that rule myself as I have one more (jazz based) play that’s going towards their full length. Oy. I’m writing on at least 50 different stories/poetry/plays for 30 different events or reasons, I have no idea how I’m keeping everything straight right now. 

Love Always,
Karen Maeby