T'filin - The perspective of a Conservative convert, Reform Jew
Very well written; I love the structure of "...Now, I told you that story to tell you this one...", which I plan to steal immediately and use at the first opportunity.
The sad part is his conclusion:
I am secure in my Jewishness and being an American Jew has allowed me the fantasy to believe that I am as Jewish as the next Jew. So it is with some disappointment that it appears I will have to settle for trips to Israel as a secular tourist and remember that I am a Jew in America.
I wish I could refute that. I wish I could agree with it. Sadly, I've seen it myself. I am a Jew who can trace his ancestry back to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and the founders of Chassidism; I have grown up and lived actively Jewishly my entire life to date, and the only questioning, lost wanderings, and uncertainty about my personal participation and commitment has been which denomination fits me best. But when I went to Israel, when I went to the Wall, I was informed I didn't know what it meant to be Jewish by a man with bushy beard and big black hat. Ironically, because I was not wearing t'filin.
There are people out there who, for whatever reason, really hate Jews and will go to great lengths to deny them comfort, participation, and an independent religious identity. It's a shame so many of them are Jewish.