I never danced with the Torah
This was the year when I should have danced with the Torah. I danced two years ago at Simchat Torah, sans Torah. Last year I spent avoiding the asshole who was whacking me over the head with the lulav during the Sukkot processional, and so I didn’t dance at all, I drank (unusual for me, and not a good sign). Now that my conversion was done, this was the year someone would have handed me a Torah scroll and let me dance.
I suppose it is a regret, but if I go to Simchat Torah at all, it will be to the Orthodox Synagogue, where women don’t hold the Torah, or dance publicly. I’ve just accepted that Judaism, like other religions I’ve experienced, is no place for a poor person of any sort, much less a single woman.
Of all the religions I tried out previously, Conservative Judaism was the one that DIDN’T make an issue out of my modest dress. I apparently mistook that for an acceptance of a traditional mindset. Inevitably, it became clear that my traditionalist streak was not really acceptable, but that my ability to fill up a minyan and my intellect were all that was wanted. What I wanted out of Judaism, a community and (G-d willing) marriage and the stability of rules and order were irrelevant…when they look at me they see a poster girl for Jewish feminism: a woman who can read Hebrew and chant haftorahs, and wear a tallit and rub it into the backward Orthodox.
Everybody asks whether I’m coming to classes “because I contribute such interesting things” and I’ve been asked at least a dozen times about whether I’ll wear tefillin (a mitzvah I am not obligated to, as a woman) but nobody asks about how my kitchen koshering is going or whether I’m lonely. Casual remarks about “watching the paint peel” on Shabbat are met with uncomfortable silences and akward changes of topic.
And the whole thing with the job, which I had to quit because the boss, yet one more typical “Social Justice” type, was trying to hug me, and walking into the room in his underwear. Because I get Disability, having a job and suddenly losing it wreaks havoc on my finances for months to come. During the Days of Awe, I basically wasn’t eating because I couldn’t afford food. I couldn’t have the formal meal before the Yom Kippur fast. The situation was exascerbated by people expecting me to pay for their food boxes and taking their time paying me back, “Oh I’ll just pay for two months next month”, not realizing that that $10 was the difference between me eating and having bus fare to work, or walking an hour to and from my job on an empty stomach.
After years of never working Shabbat, I had to take Saturday shifts to make ends meet. It’s amazing how quickly it became assumed that I would be permanently available, such that they called me in to work on Yom Kippur, which fell on a Saturday, and were flabberghasted that I refused the shift, even though I’d booked off all the holidays 3 month previously. I had to spend 20 minutes explaining that it is THE holiest day of the Jewish year.
I’ve never had much, and things have been tight from time to time, but it’s been 15 years since I was made to feel the full force of my poverty and the consequences thereof. Now I am very aware of just how precarious my situation is, and how vulnerable I am to the actions and abuses of others. If I were not on Disability, and thus assured of a guaranteed stipend, no doubt it would have progressed from “hugging the boss is part of the job” to “sucking the boss’ cock”.
I tried to hang on, at least through the holidays, because of being in the choir. I was invited to a nice luncheon where people behaved well, and then to a dinner where, despite my nice hosts, I spent the evening listening to two vicious old bitches gossip about some young Muslim woman that one of them works with. and her upcoming arranged marriage which was sure to be abusive because that’s how Muslims are…..but not Westerners. They were thrown off by my assertion that selecting ones own mate freely does not protect women from domestic abuse, seeing as how I was previously abused. But of course, I am an anomaly whose pro Muslim sentiments are suspicious. So, rather that searching our collective souls for our own sins, we snipe and sneer at what other’s are doing….and people have the nerve to call me judgemental….happy fucking new year.
When I left at the end of the evening, vicious old biddy’s #2’s husband shook my hand, and held it andwouldn’t let go, WITH HIS WIFE RIGHT IN THE ROOM. ANOTHER creepy old lecher! Perhaps he thought he was being charmingly attentive to an unattended woman; I don’t know how things were in his day, but today men aren’t “attentive” unless they’re on the make. It made me realize just how icky liberal religions are for single women…especially at my age.
I was all ready to go Orthodox but when I looked up the cost of an RCA conversion (accepted everywhere) it was $600 just for the administration fee to apply. Add the formal classes in the thousands, travel to Toronto (I lost my car in this debacle), time off work, plus books and not being able to “graduate” til I have all new pots and pans and dishes and all the other ritual requirements. And there it is….money again, and the consequences of not having enough of it thrown in my face.
Since I can’t stay at my synagogue, and can’t ever really be part of the Orthodox community, it begs the question, should I bother at all? After all, Judaism is communal, and it’s forbidden to separate from the community. I can’t keep Shabbat now, or afford to kosher properly. I can’t have guests over on Shabbat, and don’t get invited anywhere (except by the Orthodox!). My sole hope would be marriage, which would solve the single woman lech target issue and the loneliness of a long Shabbat but the way the few single men (but one) have treated me, approaching me (I suppose for my looks?) and then rejecting me when they find I don’t have a high status job and money is just another slap in the face. I think that partially explains the high rate of out-marriage..Jews feel entitled to the “best of the best” in terms of status and would rather marry a high-status Gentile than a poor Jew.It’s a harsh reality to face, but I think that some feel entitled to only have the “best of the best” for converts as well, which would explain the high financial bar just to be considered.
Perhaps it’s for the best. The one time in my life I felt spiritually connected was a result of spending years alone and apart from people. I doubt I would ever have had that if I had been surrounded by all the sick social politics of a “religious community”. So I’ve hit the bacon, totally triefing my kitchen in the process. But bacon is dependable. It’s always there when you need it, full of happy childhood memories, never spreading lashon hara, never full of hypocrisy and cruelty, and no matter how it’s aged, it’s never a “sensuous senior citizen” hitting on women young enough to be it’s daughter when its wife isn’t looking. I will join the Baconites instead, I think, where the poor and singles are always welcome and accepted.
Praise the Bacon. Amen.