Thursday, November 03, 2005

Two Ex-Southern Belles

I met Ginger for lunch today on Capitol Hill. We have known each other in passing for several years at Temple Micah. I recently came to realize that Ginger is a convert to Judaism, and as such we have a lot in common. Taking on this religion at any point in one’s life is a life-changing experience. So I suggested to Ginger that we have lunch together so we could explore our paths to this same destination and whatever else came up.

As it turns out, we have even more in common. We both grew up in the deep south, the land of magnolia blossoms and Scarlet O’Hara and sweet tea. We never knew Jews at all until we went to college. Ginger commented that her first Jewish acquaintance tried to introduce her to marijuana. Oh well, I learned about that from a good Baptist. She was at Birmingham Southern at the same time my friend from PC, Joe Lee Madden, was there. Ginger left to marry young Al, who swept her off her feet as she worked to improve the plight of black people in Alabama.

She straddled the religious boundary between her Episcopalian upbringing and her husband’s Jewish heritage for many years. And then one day, she knew what she had to do. I remember that same feeling that went something like “Oh my God, this makes so much sense!” At which points the Christian creeds and prescribed prayers no longer have meaning. We talked about how difficult it was for our parents to accept this decision. Her mother worried that she might not be able to get into certain country clubs. My mother worried about the fact that I might not be able to get out of HELL! We both vowed that our children’s happiness was far more important than their sexual preference or their religious preference or any other choices they might have to make. Truthfully, I think the parents in both families would suffer more hurt if our children became Republicans!

Ginger has done a lot more serious study of Judaism than I have, working with an Orthodox rabbi. But I am now charged up to learn as much as I possibly can about this religion and about the Torah, on which it is so heavily based. I’m looking forward to having Ginger as a friend and ally as I continue to study and get more involved in the workings of Temple Micah.

I knew we were like-minded when they refused to serve us a glass of wine in the outdoor seating of the restaurant (because of the school across the street), and we both quickly opted to go inside!


Blogger GINGER said...

That was an excellent description of our lunch but, to clarify, I am sure I have not studied Judaism more than you! Sometimes I can't believe how much I don't know. But, it's great to look ahead and know that there is so much to discover. I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your letting me in.

10:20 PM  

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