I go to the shtiebel because it reminds me a bit of the places I grew up around, little storefront shuls where the men wear black hats and shtreimels and the women sit around a small table together and talk in a mixture of Yiddish, heavily accented English and Hebrew.
The Rebbetzin always says hello and asks how I’m doing, what I’m up to. One day she asked, inexplicably:
“How tall are you?”
“Why?” I asked- and then the other questions burst forward. Will I cover my hair? (Yes, if I married a man, I would). Am I more modern or more yeshivish? ( Both- but I’m not looking right now) Someone who works or someone who learns?
I didn’t know how to explain that I hope to build a Jewish home with a woman.
I don’t come to the Shtiebel as often as I used to. Most of the time, I daven in more modern shuls, where there is more English, more Hebrew, and less Yiddish, women sit in rows, and I can be open about my identity. When I do go to the Shtiebel, the Rebbetzin is always friendly to me, and asks me where I have been. But the thing that I haven’t said, the reasons I had for not saying it, construct a wall between us. I can’t talk to her about my life.
As long as I have not said something, I can imagine that it is possible that she would understand, that there is still a place for me at that table with the women who talk among themselves in Yiddish and Hebrew and heavily accented English.
I hope there is.
Posted by queeryeshivameidel.