Catching up my readers with my recent shenanigans which have taken up a lot of my time this month!
First off, here is the video of the panel at SKA featuring myself, Judge Ruchie Freier and Judge Sivan Rahav. You will also see my talk here, "How My Father Finding his Voice in Judaism Led Me to Find Mine."
I posted this picture on my "Alexandra Fleksher: Essays and Writings" Facebook page and the next thing I know I get an email forwarded from a friend which Mishpacha sent to its subscribers with the title: "Big news. Mishpacha has started on Facebook and Twitter and the world is listening." And there, lo and behold, was my face under the Mishpacha logo. The first woman's face to be anywhere near those words. Flanked by The Chassidic Female Judge and the Famous Israeli Chareidi Journalist. Who would've thunk. Good for Mishpacha.
(By the way, I was given the green light and am now officially publishing my op-ed column "Perspective" every 6 to 8 weeks in the main Mishpacha. I share these published articles via Whatsapp so send me a message if you'd like to subscribe to my broadcast.)
About two weeks after SKA (and a nasty bout of what seemed like the flu!) I was on a plane back to New York, but this time with my family. I was honored to be one of nine women sent to communities around North America as part of "Standing Together Sinai", the inaugural learning event of the OU's Women's Initiative. I gave three talks at three different shuls in West Hempstead, and my family and I were hosted by very special families for every meal over that three-day yom tov. It was an adventure and an absolutely wonderful experience I will never forget.
Dubbed as a "Scholar in Residence", I think I surprised the crowd at the shul I spoke at Shavuos day with the talk "I Don't Want to Hide my Yichus: My Father's Conversion Story." Over 100 men and women attended this talk (it was apparently a women's shiur, but men were lining up at the door so the rabbi asked me if he could let them in. The rabbi ended up staying, too.). This talk was variation of the one I gave at SKA, as it was geared for adults. And I was thrilled to find out that some SKA students had come to hear the story again.
I began my talk by giving a thank you and blessing of gratitude to my father, as I would not be sharing this story without the brave decision he made to convert at 54 years old. People really are searching for inspiration and meaning, and no-doubt, a conversion story on first day Shavuos will deliver that.
A few days later, we are in the car driving to Baltimore for my father's 80th, ka"h, birthday party. My mother wanted me to talk, so I stood up and told my parents' closest Baltimore friends in attendance about my experiences being the mouthpiece of my father's story -- that while he had started a book but hasn't yet finished it, I am taking the mic and making his story be known.
At the end of the evening, one of my father's close friends implored me to write more of his stories down and record them for posterity. My father has some incredible journeys to Judaism, ones that would sound absolutely fantastical if I tried to write them down, so for now, I will leave those to him to share in person. Even the cynic, as my father's friend identified himself as, finds himself compelled to suspend his rational judgement when he beholds my father sharing these intensely personal and spiritual experiences. Listening to them in person is itself a sort of spiritual experience!
While I did spill the beans on the internet over at Hevria a year ago, I have decided to do a small series of posts here dedicated to my father's journey to Judaism and my journey along the way.
If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address or are wondering about, feel free to send me a message.
Looking forward to traveling this journey with you!
Until next time,