I included the word “furtive” in my slugline because I haven’t told very many people of my plans to convert yet. I want to be further along in the process (like actually proving that I have a chance to succeed) before I drop a bombshell that big. The few people I’ve told are a good friend of mine who went through a religious conversion experience, a secular Jewish friend in Portland, and a few of my close religious Jewish friends in Israel.
I think some few of my friends and relatives won’t really be surprised, but my mother in particular might be hurt, especially at Christmastime. My mother is the original Christmas freak. I hate Christmas, have for many years. (I have never identified as a Christian, even though my family are at least culturally Christians, and I don’t believe in a historical Jesus.) I used to make a point of reading Harlan Ellison’s infamous “Fuck Xmas!” essay every year on Christmas Eve, just to give me the strength to get through. The “holiday creep” of the last decade or so has been making me progressively more aggravated.
Even though my family is pretty small, Christmas is a big production Chez Parents de Sara-Elisheva.
I’m expecting a lot of behind-my-back talk about me in the family, but that’s not exactly news.
My sister will probably just chalk it up to my being inexplicably weird, which is how she basically thinks of me anyway, and might make some comments about why can’t I just be normal.
I haven’t told my boss yet, and while you’re probably thinking my religious life is really none of my boss’ business (and you’d be technically right), I work with a group based in Jerusalem, and I was hired to provide North American time zone coverage for my job role, and also to cover Jewish holidays. (I like to tell people I’m the group’s shabbes goy.) I can’t exactly do that if I’m not a goy anymore, can I? (Of course, this job is indirectly responsible for convincing me to convert to Judaism, so I’m not sure whether I should appreciate the irony or the literary parallelism.) I’m really not sure how that will impact my job. I’m pretty sure they can’t fire me (although I’m not sure how protected I am if changing religions means I can’t fulfill some of the terms of my initial hire), and my performance ratings are good, but I’m nervous. They don’t cover this stuff in those “Guides for the Would-Be Convert.”
I’m certain this will cause some rifts with my friends, particularly when I can’t (or won’t) join them for dinners out and Friday night movies anymore.
It’s already put a probably breaking strain on my relationship with my pseudoquasiboyfriend in England, but that was going to happen sooner or later anyway, as we’ve really grown apart in the last few years. If anybody ever tries to tell you that you don’t change a lot in your middle thirties, don’t listen.
There are probably other ramifications I’m completely missing at this point, but…