What do you do
When you realize
Who you are
Not who. What.
What you are.
It’s not Judaism’s fault I didn’t know. I didn’t grow up with it. Judaism is what I found and embraced, the rock I clung to while the waves tried to pull me under, while the darkness wanted to drown me. It was the one thing that made sense.
But now it doesn’t.
I still believe, but I don’t know how to fit that belief into the other truths I’ve found. Judaism pushed me to be a better person, to grow and learn and be and do. But that growth made me question things that before, I’d accepted as immutable truths.
Are they true?
I used to say, Christianity taught me the dangers of believing in men. I used to say, don’t let Jews stand in the way of your Judaism. People are flawed, you cannot rely on them. I still think that. But now, i wonder.
What is Judaism?
I believe in G-d. I believe we received the Torah at Sinai. I believe moshiach will come. I’m shomer shabbat, shomer kashrut. I’m shomer. But I wonder.
Why does G-d hate me?
What did I do? Why do I deserve so much pain? My own body, every moment. But sometimes that’s the least of it. Why make me this way? Why make me love a man so deeply, but be incapable of attraction to him? Why hide from me what I am? Couldn’t you have given me a sign, helped me realize, at the very least, before I wrapped another person into this mess? Before a family was caught up in my questions? Shouldn’t I have realized before we had children?
How can it be this complicated?
What would it matter, though? Would it have been better to be single, to be alone, dying of poverty and isolation and increasing illness? Why can’t I be grateful, for my children, for the husband I love deeply and who loves me? Why can’t I just be grateful that I have a comfortable home now?
Does it matter that I’m gay?
Why does it hurt so much to look at the future? Why does suddenly seeing the truth make every possible path look dark? My sexuality is nothing but mists and phantoms; I couldn’t find a woman to love me if I left halachah behind – and I don’t want to leave halachah behind. I love the Torah. Don’t I?
Why does the Torah say I’m broken?
Woman. Gay. Disabled. Giyoret. Everything about me wrong, off, incomplete, abnormal. I’m not supposed to learn gemara. I’m not supposed to tempt men. I’m supposed to have emunah, not be, in the words of a rav whose shiur rings in my ears like tinnitus for my soul, “a bitter cripple.” I’m not supposed to desire women. I’m a convert, I shouldn’t question things, or maybe the Rabbanut will take my jewishness away. But isn’t the ability to question what drew me to Judaism in the first place? Isn’t being told not to ask why I left my old beliefs behind? Why do I feel more whole as a Jew, when it feels like Judaism is ripping me apart?
Where is G-d?
I would look for G-d in shul, in the communal silence of Shemonah Esrei, in the cadence of this week’s parsha being read aloud, in the melodies of Kabbalat Shabbat, in the sense of community around Kiddush. But I’m not welcome there. They say I am, but I know otherwise.
There’s not a ramp.
And it’s not malice that makes me unwelcome, but there’s a stairway to heaven and I’m at the bottom, staring up from my wheelchair with tears streaming down my face because I’ve been abandoned by G-d in the city where I’m supposed to feel Him most.
Is this living?
Death is forbidden. But living is out of reach. And I’m just standing in this space in between, trying to love everyone around me enough to make up for the cracks in who I am, the gaps between what I ought to be and what I am. Hoping no one else lives like a shadow; like a window with fissures running throughout it, glittering in the sunlight while it waits for the wrong pressure to send it crumbling.
But I know they will.
I would ask a rav what my place is. I would show him these musings. I would ask, what do I do? Where is the place for me in our community? What is the right choice? Is there a right choice? How do I avoid hurting people? What does Avodat HaShem look like someone like me? But I am afraid of the answer. Afraid to find that there is no answer.
What am I?
I am an unasked question.