Q&A

Q:When are you most creative?
A: Usually in the middle of the day. If I’m not too tired then love to get creative in the evening as well, but usually the middle of the day is best for me!

Q: Fav youtube channels you subscribe to?
A: The Modest Bohemian, Lulastic HippyShake, Little Kosher Lunch, Mayim Bialik.

Q: Feel free to ignore this if you’d rather keep it private, but you’d mentioned about some health concerns. What are they and how are they going?
A: Hashimotos, Hypothy, IBS and food intolerances which lead to various vitamin deficiencies etc., like Vit D, mag, zinc, selenium and maybe more I don’t know of! I also have menstrual problems which we’re in the process of solving.

Q: Why did you decide to covert to Judaism?
Q: Why did you decide to convert Orthodox & not reform or conservative?
A: It’s hard to explain if you haven’t felt it before, but basically our souls were just drawn to it. Every little ritual, tradition, and piece of wisdom just felt so right for us.

There are lots of pretty practical reasons why we’d covert – the values of Judaism align well with us, we were previously Christians, so had experience with the Bible, and the Torah – though our understanding and interpretation of it at the time was severely limited. Now we feel much more free and like a light bulb has gone off in our head to see the truth!

Q: How do you stop yourself getting overwhelmed by the conversion process?
A: I’m not very good at this!! On a practical, everyday sense, I have been practicing regular Jewish meditation, and that’s been very calming and helping to not being overwhelmed in general, and therefore with conversion stuff as well. I’ve had a few conversations with friendly lately and when explaining the changes we’re going through they liken it to doing a University degree. I whole heartedly agree with this connection, because firstly it’s quite an intellectual experience – lots of learning, memorising, learning a new language, critical thinking skills, problem solving etc., and then also because of the amount of time it takes. Really, I need to devote time to “study” every day, and take classes, etc. The reason this has helped me is because I know it’s not just ME who’s feeling overwhelmed with this, it’s actually like that for most people (or at least most people with a job – even if that’s homemaking, a spouse, kids, and a life…), and it is also a great reminder for me that there is an END in sight! One day this won’t all be new things that I’m constantly learning, these things will be habits, and natural, and my way of thinking and being will be transformed. And that’s a comfort to me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. G-D willing it won’t take as long as a University degree though!!

Q: What’s the toughest part of converting?
A: This leads on well from the last topic. I think a lot of people think that learning kashrut, or incorporating masses of daily prayers into your life, or dressing differently might be some of the toughest parts, but that’s not what we’ve found. Don’t get me wrong, there are struggles with all those things, but I think it’s the spiritual, emotional, and habitual changes you’re making that are the toughest part. It’s the constant stretching of yourself and what you believe. It’s not the physical way you interact with the world that’s hard, it’s changing your mindset about WHY you’re doing it. kashrut isn’t just a diet preference, it’s understanding G-D’s heart, and desiring him, and committing that way. And then dealing with transgressions you make along the way. A lot of that internal stuff it’s so explicitly taught either, so this is your own personal work you have to do on top of the practical parts.

The other difficult part for me is aligning my other values with Judaism. Usually it’s fine, but sometimes there are cultural differences (not halacic) within Orthodox Judaism that grate against my other values like environmentalism etc.

Q: 

Daily Vlog // Wednesday 29th Heshvan 5779 // 7th November 2018

Hey hey! Daily vlog time (is there anything else lately? No, no there’s not. Because there’s no time for anything else when you’re making a video every day!).

Today is mostly about cracking open a coconut, which went on all day really  while we did other bits in between. It was mostly Eli’s project as he is a keen life investigator, but we all had a go at different bits.

Daily Vlog // Tuesday 28th Heshvan 5779 // 6th November 2018

Something different again today (may or may not be due to not filming much of anything else in the day despite it being fairly busy!) – a book review!

I’m reviewing Mamaleh Knows Best by Marjorie Ingall which was given to me by PJ Libraries as part of their Summer Reading Program. Spoiler alert: I gave it like 4.5/5, so I definitely think you should grab a copy and read it, no matter if you’re a mum, dad, Jew, non-Jew, it doesn’t matter – this book is great for all parents!

Daily Vlog // Monday 27th Heshvan 5779 // 5th November 2018

Today’s vlog is a little different – I’m experimenting with just following one process of the day rather than the little snippets of the day I’ve done in the previous videos.

We made these kosher tacos, including the tacos from scratch which was lots of fun. Luke gave me a tortilla press as a gift for Sukkot, so I’m glad to try it out. We made these with corn, so they were gluten free, and we cooked with meat, so of course everything was dairy free as well.

Definitely going to add these to the menu again (hopefully it won’t take so long to make the tortillas next time if I don’t have so many helpers!).

Daily Vlog // Sunday 26th Heshvan 5779 // 4th November 2018

Sunday! Such a full day. I skipped Saturday because it was Shabbat. 🙂

In our family we love to do “date days” to have one on one time with each of our kids. This morning my husband took the younger kids out, and I had some one on one time with our eldest son. We went to a coffee shop to do some drawing, and then came home to do some art journaling. My parents stopped by on the way to the airport (they’re travelling for work for a few days), and then we had a relaxed afternoon watching Paddington 2, eating popcorn, and and playing some VR.

Daily Vlog Friday 24th Heshvan, 2nd November.

In today’s video:
* Opening our Judaica package. New hand washing cup, kippot, and a necklace for Ahava (she gets a bit jealous that the boys get to wear kippot, so we bought her this as her own special Jewish thing!).
* Mama & Eli time while Ahava sleeps.
* Picking up some supplies for Shabbat from the bulk store.
* Shabbat prep!

Daily Vlog Thursday 23rd Heshvan 5779 // 1st November 2018

Hi everyone! I’m having a go at doing some daily vlogs for the month fo November! They’re only going to be a few minutes long, and will hopefully help me to improve my video work, and by a fun little documentation of bits and pieces of our life right now.

This first video is for the 1st of November – the 23rd of Heshvan on the Hebrew calendar, and it includes a bit of a tour of our garden, Ahava’s wonderfully silly singing and dancing, and making some bone broth noodle soup for dinner! Enjoy!

Conversion Classes Update

Our first class was on the 29th of May 2018, and it’s now the 31st of October 2018. Five months in to the official part of this process, and it’s been quite a ride! A couple of months ago I was talking with a friend who, when I explained what was involved over the next year (thankfully we have a very good idea of what religious life involves, so we are mentally prepared for what’s coming!), she likened it to a University degree! In some ways it is, as there’s a big mental shift, and also a big lifestyle change. 

I am still as excited as ever, and even though the process is not without growing pains, I am often surprised at how quickly we get ourselves into a new rhythm – taking on board the new things we need to do and practice. So here’s what we’re up to:

We’ve just finished learning about Kashrut, and are in a stage of practicing this. Our kitchen isn’t totally kosher – we’re in a practice phase. So if we (or our kids!) make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world – it’s just something to learn from. We had to do quite a bit of rearranging of our kitchen to accomodate a second set of… everything (!), and buckets to dirty dishes and washing up in to keep meat and dairy seperate. 

One of the things I didn’t fully anticipate in the conversion process was the cost involved. Not just in things like buying second dishes and kitchen tools (which I had anticipated), but in buying mezuzahs, tallit katan, various books etc. This isn’t a big thing, but we have had to save up for a bunch of stuff, so while we’ve already done the theory and on mezuzah, and tallit katan, we have to save for a few weeks before we can purchase these things. I guess it’s just about priorities, as in, we prioritised the kitchen stuff over these other things for now. All will get done in the next month or so, but for now we wait!

We’ve also been learning Hebrew. Our Rabbi took us through quite a few weeks of intense Hebrew lessons, and we practiced regularly (I’m not a linguist, so new languages are a bit of a challenge to me!), but we got trough that and now we’re just practicing in our own time. Time is ticking though, because we’ll be working our way through the siddur and praying soon, and we will need to be more or less fluent by then to make that process easier. I’ve been doing Hebrew on duolingo daily (okay, 4 times a week – but I TRY to do it daily!!) to practice reading Hebrew and hearing it, and spelling it, and interpreting it etc. And I also try to read parts of things in Hebrew when possible. For example, when I get lost in the Siddur at Shule on Shabbat I sometimes just choose something like the Amidah and just read through as much in Hebrew as I can. I should probably try and find my place, but I am in and out of the service so much with the kids that it’s a real difficulty.

We’ve been learning many prayers off by heart including the Modeh Ani, and the brachas before meals and benching. I really enjoy these because they all of a sudden make Judaism a very real and very tangible part of everyday life. The only problem is feeling a little self conscious when doing these around friends or family. People often don’t know what to do/say, and it can be a little awkward, but I suppose that’s just part of this stage of life. The children are very good at remembering the brachas, and also remembering to say them (not always so good at knowing which one to say – but they try hard, and they are getting better).

Speaking of the kids, that is another layer to this process – interpreting everything we’re learning and then translating that to the kids. I try to be pretty up front with them and treat them like the intelligent, spiritual people that they are, and that works well. We follow this process:

  1. Explain what we’ve been taught, and best practice, as in, how we ideally want to practice it.
  2. Talk about how they feel about taking this mitzvah on, and answer any questions they have about it.
  3. Work out the practicalities with them. If we choose to start at a lower level of observance and work up to something more observant later then we also talk about a time frame.

As an example of this, we have just talked to the kids about wearing tallit katan and kippot. So we explained what we ultimately want to do, and what Daddy will be doing. Lior expressed some hesitation about wearing these things at school, while Eli was happy to do it all the time, straight away. So we talked through Lior’s concerns and answered their questions like do they have to wear them swimming, doing sports, sleeping etc. All those regular questions kids might have (any even adults!). Then we worked out what level of observance they would be happy to do at this stage (for us that ended up being wearing them tucked in under their clothes so they can’t be seen, which is what was recommended to us anyone as people going through conversion and not yet Jewish), and getting ready to implement that once we have the tallit katan they need.

So I think that’s all I need to include in this update… I’m sure there’s other things I haven’t covered, but I can’t remember what I wrote in the last update (I did do another update, didn’t I?!). Ha! Oh well! We’re enjoying this journey, and I am so pleased with how well we are all going and how enthusiastic everyone is to take on these mitzvahs and get involved! I’m particularly thankful to Luke who is a real team mate in this process, especially with kashrut, as I would not want to be solely responsible for that!

So Tired (A Dairy Relapse)

I feel so tired right now. It’s nearly 1pm, and I should be taking a nap. I should be putting away the washing. I should be cleaning up for Shabbat. I should be prepping food for Shabbat. So many things to “should be” doing! But I’m sitting here writing because I’ve realised something and I wanted to record it.

So about 6 weeks ago I got back some food intolerance test results. It showed high intolerance to eggs and dairy, and milk to gluten and a few other random things. So I set about cutting these things out of my diet. I have tested the egg thing, and yep, definitely get the runs after having that! And gluten too affects my gut in that way. But I love cheese almost more than I love dairy, and I wanted to try doing keto again, and that’s pretty dang hard without dairy! So this week I decided to go for it with the diary and just have it (not heaps, just not nothing, ya know?) and oh man, this is where the tiredness comes from. Tiredness and a belly that looks like I’m 6 months pregnant. So much bloating, so much flatulance, so much exhaustion.

So on the positive side, I’m 100% sure that dairy effects me! Even cheese, which is all I had – no milk (this scored higher on the test for me than cheese). So here’s to better choices in the future!