A Return to Amsterdam: Jewish Tour and A Golden Age Uncovered 🌷🇳🇱
More from The Wandering Jew: A return to a place I visited 25 years ago, and some Jewish surprises there
Sukkot holds a special place in my heart. Still after two celebrations of it during the pandemic, I’ve yet to really enjoy a sukkah or even craft one of my own.
But I love that goofy little harvest holiday (have you seen this site’s logo?), and last year* during the week of Sukkot — *both in 2020 and in the Hebrew year, 5781 — I slowly entered the mikveh in Los Angeles and became anew. A Jew.
To be precise, it was 18 Tishrei, or 6th October. And like a recent member of the tribe, I have a difficult time remembering the Hebrew date and instead marked it on October 6. I’ll get better about that!
The solar date came and I was in Mexico City with my boyfriend, Brian. I wrote last episode about stumbling into an Israeli restaurant after meandering a bit and not finding nourishment. We were about to march back to our Airbnb, quite a trek, when I spotted a lone lit patio at the end of the block.
So we went, we sat, and it immediately began pouring rain. It’s the wet time of the year here. I love that.
I’m now legally, spiritually Jewish and dripping wet with emotions. Here’s what happened.
I thought of the mikveh and the immersion, though this time I opted to stay dry and comfort Molly, my 9-year-old Labradoodle, who’s had a difficult time during our 5 weeks here in Mexico with narrow streets (vans and busses zooming tightly near her), cobblestones, an incredible amount of treacherous stairs without rails, and terrifying things from the sky: fireworks for the 16th of September celebration and lots of thunder. Poor girl.
Previously on Newish Jewish / The Wandering Jew: Amazing bites at Merkavá, Hummusiya and Jerusalem Kitchen, México City, Israeli novio in tow
I’m very lucky to be able to travel, and think of it daily as we make our way through central Mexico. I worry about white privilege and being here during a pandemic, of course, but I’m fully vaccinated and constantly masked. Also, the masking and regulations here are stricter than many places I saw in the US (looking at you, Arizona! WTF!).
So I feel safe and that I’m not endangering others. It helps a lot that the weather here is beautiful and mild, so we’re either outdoors or all the doors and windows are open, lowering our chance of getting or spreading COVID.
And I don’t like America right now, so there’s that. Being anyone in America is a challenge right now, and being any member of the other, whether Black or Jewish or a just a firm believer in civil rights in a red state, is really weighing on so many of us right now.
One year ago at this time I felt changed, dripping with all kinds of new emotions and processes. I now think about going back to that same mikveh and of exploring others. I wonder about visiting a mikveh in Israel, where many of them (as with the observant religious communities) are conservative. Would my American-convert self, covered in 10 tattoos (and counting) and queer, be welcomed in their ceremonial waters?
We shall see, and I do plan to visit in the next year; it’s already been put off for that one trip around that sun.
You can contribute to my Israel “honeyfund” and choose what experience you give me: A dip in the Dead Sea? ? A camel ride? ? You decide! אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל awaits and I hope to absorb as much history as I can, including a trip to Sinai.
Visit the AJU Community Mikvah in Los Angeles, which serves the entire west coast and is open to all.