I wrote this blog a few months back in November 2013. I was not sure if I should post it due to the title I gave it. I don’t like to put in anyones mind that conversion is something you should not do. I feel if a person is “called” who am I to say don’t.
I’ve honored Sabbath all my life but during my conversion process I’m finding it hard, financially, to keep up. My husband serves in the US Army and I’m a full-time student. We are currently spending an extra $400 a month to have two “lavish” Sabbath meals. This month has been especially hard on us. We are now faced with many of our bills falling behind due to this extra expense. This has caused Sabbath to become a burden instead of a joy for us. This does not feel right to me. Sabbath should be a time of joy. Before we made this choice we enjoyed Sabbath. We had a nice meal with family and friends and I did not spend 8 hours cooking on Friday to get it ready. Now I feel more pressure to get all the house work done, all the cooking done, and still have time to shower and dress up for our meal on Shabbat. By the time we eat dinner, I am exhausted. The joy I once had is overshadowed by all the work.
Then there is the cost for all the items you need to have. A challah board, (they are not cheap), a special knife for cutting the challah, a Kiddush cup and some small ones to serve others, silver tray for Kiddush cup and challah bowl, mayim acharonim, grape juice (this cost $8.00 each week), wine, matches and so on….you get the point. I’m not complaining but I do wonder if this is really what Sabbath is all about? I feel often that the love of Sabbath is missing for us due to trying so hard to fulfill all the “requirements” of Sabbath. We honored Sabbath before we knew that you “needed” all the things we now have to buy. More than that, my cooking was only a few hours at the most. I was able to enjoy our guests because I did not feel the need to serve a 3- or 4-course meal. Most of the meals were buffet style. Now it is always a sit-down meal and I am up and down like a jack-rabbit serving each course. I really want to find that joy I once had on Sabbath……. I must ask myself, “Why am I going into debt trying to have all this food?” Most of it we don’t even eat. Then there is the fact that I was told by some friends you must eat Jewish food. Well, we’ve done that but we don’t like most of it. We are African-American and we have a very different way of cooking our food. Moreover, the type of food we eat is almost never sweet. Most everything I cook from a Jewish cookbook has honey. So after spending all that extra money and cooking for hours, we don’t even get to enjoy the food. Often the best things on the table are the salads and the Challah. This just can’t be right. I really need help and understanding on this.
UPDATE: Well, here I am 7 months later and I have come to understand a lot. One, Shabbat is not all about having the best of things you can’t afford. One should not allow all the “hype” they read on the internet to confuse them about what Shabbat is all about. I’ve come to understand that Shabbat can and is a joy for me. I don’t try so hard to fulfill others expectations of what Shabbat “for me” should be like. The joy I once had has returned. Why? I now understand what Shabbat really means and what it is all about. It was never about things. I still cook a wonderful meal. Now I stay within my budget. I enjoy so of the Jewish food but I’ve also understood that “Jewish” food is relative. You see, it is all about which type of Jew you interact with. I’ve found I like some of the Sephardi traditions but yet, I still enjoy some of the Modern Ashkenazic ways. I don’t think there is anything wrong with finding the sect that you fit in best.
So for my “harsh realities” I’ll say this: lesson learned, for me that is. 🙂