I received this email last week, if you have any comments- I can foeward them to the person who wished to remain annonymous. Or just comment here and I will alert her to the comments posted.
I am a “Jew-in-training” and have been involved in the Orthodox community for 2 + years (after being in the Reform community for 8 years). I love Torah observant Judaism and I feel as if it fulfills to a tee my thoughts of how to acknowledge and give appreciation to Hashem. I am also pretty fortunate that in my community [South Florida], there are a lot of Rabbaim that teach just for those new to observance and those with questions…it’s really great.
What has not been so great is my relationship with individual people in the Jewish community. Well, it has not been bad…but it also has not been so good. I don’t tell the rabbis this, because I don’t want to add another snag to my conversion (there are other, small ‘snags’….like my financial situation). I am a 27-year-old Black woman who works more than full-time (around 55 hours a week) and I’ve lived on my own for 8 years. That probably has a lot to do with my lack of integration into the community. Besides that, I have a close relationship with my non-Jewish family — including my Rastafarian father, and maternal Grandparents who are staunch Xtians, but are happy if I’m happy so they give me no grief.
This is why I find your blog highly entertaining but also a little horrifying. I’ve been to New York for Shabbat & Yontif (Kew Garden Hills mainly; although I did go to Flatbush and Crown Heights…both once). Also my old job sent me to New Jersey for 6 weeks (where I would go to Teaneck). I noticed that the frum community there is “different”; although it was not something I felt totally alien in. Anyway, my shortsighted view is that I felt like a kid in a candy-store. Kosher products and restaurants galore, many places to buy tznius clothing, and young Jews everywhere. Despite the cold weather, I could see why many frum Miamians make their way up to NYC to establish themselves and find a shidduch. But from the inside (your blog, and also some other things I’ve heard or read), it seems like a different story. This “inside” view tells that if you are “odd” (and yes, unfortunately Black converts are seen as quite odd in the frum world), you have a hard time. Well, even if you are “normal” you have a hard time! I loathe the thought of anyone picking and asking about my non-Jewish family, bringing up the “Oh you’re Black, it must be tough” line, or seeing a “ger sign” above my head and then commencing to try me out on all the community bachelors over the age of 35 because everyone else had just about given up hope. Also, I haven’t even converted, and people are searching high and low for any single Black Jewish man they can find; be he 45 or in Israel, or divorced with 7 children…. it doesn’t matter, since we’re both Black, it must be “meant to be” .
Anyway, for the past few months, I’ve been “un-officially dating” (whatever that means) a Jewish man that is a Reconstructionist who just moved here from New Jersey. Of course no one knows this; of course he feels that all the “stuff” I do is pretty ridiculous…but at least he’s tolerant and lets me do it. And at least I get to “pretend” that I will never have to deal with the shadchan thing. On the other hand, I really long for an observant guy…who won’t have to ask and won’t pout when going through a long kiddush. Who will just automatically open up a sefer daily and study a bit from it. On the other hand I do not want to turn out like the other community “oddballs” and be single when I’m in my 40s still. Interestingly, I found 3 other women in the frum community where their husbands are not observant…and I never knew. It doesn’t seem fair or right though. Torah observance should not be bundled with this silly elitism. People are people are people; when I was not religious, people told me all the time how great I was. Now all I here is concern over who would want me. It’s really not right…. on so many levels.