There are moments, sweet moments, where I can sit and blend in. In those moments, I’m just another Jew davening or just another Jew at the Shabbos table. I congratulate myself on those brief moments and I hold onto them, tucking them in my pocket to run my fingers over when I doubt the direction we’re headed in. I use them to remind myself of what life will be like, one day. Those are the moments I feel at peace, where the gnawing ache of displacement leaves me alone and my heart feels unchained. It leaps from my chest and soars to high places and I find certainty. In those moments, I don’t doubt what we’ve given up or what we’re doing. I know with a solidity like bedrock.
It’s so very often, though, that those moments are interrupted with doubtful moments, with moments that test my resolve and my faith. Those are the moments where the stark reality bleeds in to remind me that I’m not there yet. It’s the moment where the Rabbi has to stall a bit for an eleventh man because my husband is not really the tenth. I can hear the men awkwardly shift on their side even though I can’t see them. I can feel the tension as they each count, wondering which of them is not a real number. Or, it’s the moments where Jewish geography comes out to play. Inevitably, my foreignness is revealed by my birthplace or where I was raised, so far from anything kosher. Or, it’s my son’s lanky frame, easily place-able somewhere between childhood and bar mitzvah and people begin wondering why he isn’t in a tallis yet.
I often try to stay quiet, hoping to blend in just a little longer. I almost look the part, my red hair covered and my blue eyes trained down to the Hebrew page. I’m dressed the part and I study to fit the part, as if studying for a job interview hoping that study will make it so. Somehow, though, the better I blend in, the more jarring it is to everyone when I am discovered. I am the foreigner among you, but with each heartbeat, I long to be simply another face in your crowd. I undertake a remarkable journey in the hopes of one day being unremarkable.