(apologies for the backlog of posts – I’ve been away without reliable internet access)
Change is a constant in life, but I think it is somewhat rare to be actively aware of how much I am changing as time passes. For me at least, it’s only possible to discern changes, big and small, in retrospect.The last time I had such a fundamental sense of being changed was when I got to college, which brought with it a magical four years of exploration, inquiry, and growth.
But this year has been different. A year ago during the month of Elul, I was still working up the courage to call the person who would become my converting rabbi. I was still in the middle of talking over my desire to convert, feeling it growing ever stronger, but not feeling quite ready to take the jump yet. I was not a convert, nor had I embraced any real part of Jewish ritual observance, feeling that I had no right to do so until the process was formally under way.
And now I find myself changing. I am growing in my observance. I am learning the words to prayers and songs, marveling as the once unfamiliar words slowly start to become part of my consciousness and memory. I am starting to feel comfortable identifying myself as a Jew, mentally, I’ve been there for ages, but I’m slowly starting to tell more people in my extended circle of acquaintances about my conversion process.
The end of Elul will bring more changes, particularly, fasting for Yom Kippur. This is not an optional fast, and the gravity of the day is denoted by the fact that it is the only Jewish holy day that does not supersede Shabbat. I am nervous. I have fasted before, but only a sun-up to sun-down fast. 24 hours seems like a different ballgame altogether, and I’m worried that I might fail. But that’s ok. As long as I know that this year, I have given it my all and fasted for as long as possible, I will be satisfied with myself. I have a lifetime to get it right.