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Learning more and living Jewish

Life after that first conversion was not much different quantitatively, but there had been a shift in direction. I had been forced to choose to be Jewish, and I would never again take my Jewishness for granted. I wouldn't say that it was constantly on my mind, but it was certainly always at the back of my mind.

A lot happened in our personal lives over those next few years. We had to find a level of observance that was comfortable and livable. Comfortable regarding how are personal level of commitment jived with our actions. Livable regarding balancing both our level of commitment as individuals and our commitment as a couple. There was also the commitment to each other. I think last component is not always given the attention is needs. We tried to make everything we did a mutual decision. For exmple, for a long time we kept kosher in the house but ate out in restaurants.

At this point I want to stress that I am not making any recommendations; I am simply recording what we did. In retrospect, we really should have asked for some advice about how and what or if to add. The truth is, though, we did not look at this as a process at all. Looking back, of course, it was; we were moving all the time. But at the time we didn't think of it that way. We were just living our lives.

So... what did we do? In the house we were very strict about using kosher meat and reading labels on food; all things being equal we would use a product with a hechsher (kosher symbol), but we weren't fanatic about it. We did not use kosher cheese nor wine. We had two sets of dishes for year around and another two for Passover. We ate out, but only fish and vegetarian. Shabbos and holidays basically meant no driving (except to and from synagogue) and no shopping.

We made a sukkah nearly every year. Bought lulav and esrog sometimes. Pesach was a major event. We were definitely the most kosher then. We had a large seder every year. Lots of friends, sometimes family. I went to synagogue Shabbos morning and on holidays. I often went to the Sunday, Monday, and Thursday minyanim. I also went though periods when I would lay t'fillin and at least say "sh'ma" on other days. We did not make blessing before our after eating during the week; though we sometimes did on Shabbos.

I would like to say that we did all that they we did because that was the recommendation of the conservative movement. (There is book that describes how to observe the conservative jewish religion; I'll be happy to discuss that with you privately.) Honestly, though... we had found a comfortable(ish) level of observance and the book was more a justification of our actions rather than a source for them.

That pretty much sums up our Jewish living during those years (nearly a decade worth). I think we would have lived out our lives that way; then Providence stepped in... again. I was then thrown (again) into the position of having to directly confront who I was and what I wanted to be.


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