Guest post by Eclectic Trixie
I answered the phone Friday afternoon thinking it was going to be a shabbos dinner invite. It was my neighbor down the street calling who puts together some of the tastiest shabbos dinners in the ‘chood, so I was pretty stoked to see her name pop up on my caller ID. I answered the phone and we exchanged the usual pleasantries. Hi, How are you, I’m fine and you, B’H, she asks me what my plans were for shabbos dinner, I say that I have no plans, she asks me if I could come push a stroller for her this evening so she can get to dinner – Whoa. What? For real? Dude. Um… Seriously?
I had already been informed that the eruv was down, but my rabbi also mentioned he didn’t think anyone would ask me to do anything like that. Sure, my conversion won’t be finished for a few more months but not once before has anyone shabbos goyed (Editors note: I so wish I had the brilliance to come up with such a term) me. And so what, the eruv goes down and otherwise perfectly kind and thoughtful neighbors become complete morons? I was shocked to say the least.
This wasn’t spontaneous. We didn’t run onto each other at the grocer or in the alley where she might have spur of the moment saw me as a solution to her little dilemma. No, she thought about this. Picked up her phone and called my number. She chose me. Not her maid. Not her non-Jewish neighbors. Not the couple down the street who love to help the Jews out on shabbos with things like this. No. She thought of me. The giyoret.
She sounded a little disappointed when I politely told her that I would not push the stroller for her. I also let her know that because the eruv was down, I would be staying home this shabbos, hopefully implying that I was attempting to avoid situations such as this. I hung up the phone.
So many emotions raced through me I didn’t even know where to start. I felt such a sense of rejection from this community which I was finally starting to truly feel a part of. I felt sad that this could be the attitude toward someone in the process of conversion, that there could be such disregard for my feelings. I was upset that so much emotional progress I had made since moving to the community a year ago could be wiped with one individuals poor judgment. I felt bewilderment at how easy it was for her to look at the letter of the law and ignore the people involved. Her ignorance in this situation overwhelmed, insulted and angered me, but mostly it just made me sad.
On a very basic and obvious level, being in the process of converting to Judaism means I want to be Jewish. One should be able to infer by this that I currently am, want to or am trying to be a torah observant Jew. If you have spent any time around me (as the neighbor who needed a stroller pusher had) then you know that I live a torah observant life. To me it seems like common sense that a request like this to a person like me would be hurtful or insulting.
I don’t draw attention to the fact that I am a giyoret, but I don’t hide it either. I don’t eat bacon cheeseburgers just because I am not yet obligated not to and I certainly won’t be pushing a stroller on shabbos when the eruv is down for the same reasons. To think otherwise shows unacceptable disregard, insensitivity and naivete that seems to be all too common when it comes to FFBs and even a lot of BTs when dealing with folks in the conversion process.