Adult B’nei Mitzvah Class of 2014: George Guzman
This Portion spoke to me about borders and boundaries. I won’t speak of the current situation in Israel or the immigration battle here. Rather, I’d like to speak of my own “border and Boundaries.
For those of you who don’t know, I converted to Judaism a year ago. That to me was crossing a border and yet I can never proudly announce my conversion in public without being met with some snide comment like, “you’re not really a Jew” from someone. This negativity shows me how much we as a people still need to grow and learn. But much like the Israelites crossed borders fearlessly so to shall I.
Once my conversion was complete I was invited to go to Israel with an organization known as A Wider bridge- this organization crossed borders bridging LGBTQ Jews together from other parts of the world with Israel. So, again, I decided this is something I would do. Fearlessly like my forefathers and Mothers, so I toured Israel.
Again I felt never quite “Jew” enough until I finally got to the Kotel and a random Jewish man hugged me after donating to his cause. It wasn’t the kind of hug you gave a stranger, it was a hug that you give a family member you haven’t seen for a long time. At that very moment, little did that this guy know, he was representing this entire Jewish state with his embrace. That the crossing, of so many physical borders to get there made worth it just for that single moment in time. My partner Craig actually took a picture of this moment and I will cherish it forever. (show picture)
So I returned from Israel just in time to enroll in the B’nei Mitzvah class here at BCC. Yet another border to cross. And yet Again just like the Israelites, I forged forward knowing this is exactly what G-d wants. Again, I was met with comments like “you’re becoming so jewish” or “oh, so now you’re a man”. I didn’t have the energy to explain that some Jewish people never became Bar mitzvah no, instead I use these comments to fuel my energy to cross this border.
So maybe there is a border you would like to cross, maybe something as simple as meeting your next door neighbor or as exciting as visiting Israel. Maybe these little glimpses into my life will encourage you to do so.
So here I stand, a hairstyling, converted, tattooed, opinionated, brit milahed, gay, Latino, Jew who has crossed the Bar Mitzvah Border, delivering his D’var Torah to you on this very day at this very moment in time. I can only imagine what the Israelites felts as they crossed each border knowing they came through successful and like them, relish in the feeling of completeness.
Ba-ruch A-tah A-do-noi E-loi-hei-nu
Me-lech ha-o-lam she-he-chee-ya-nu v’ki-yi-ma-nu
vi-hi-gi-ya-nu liz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the
Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and
enabled us to reach this occasion.
Above all, to thine own self be true…
Saturday, July 26, 2014