As a non-Jew, I am suppose to do some small, private act of “work” in order to not keep Shabbat. An example of this would be carrying something in your pocket from private to public domain without anyone knowing. But this past Shabbat I went beyond this small requirement and drove 4 hours out of town to visit family on Saturday afternoon.
I can’t justify my decision to drive on Shabbat using halahkah, but I did obviously believe in my decision enough to choose to drive. My mother’s birthday was this weekend, and to celebrate my family was having a nice dinner Saturday night. Spending time with my family is really important right now because in a few months I am moving for school and won’t be able to share any holidays or special occasions. The dinner itself in no way distrupts Shabbat, but yet I still didn’t keep Shabbat. In my mind, the options were as follow. I could drive to my parent’s house on Friday, before Shabbat, and keep Shabbat there. I would be able to keep Shabbat and go to the dinner after Shabbat. The problem with this solution is that there are no synagogues or Jews even remotely close to my their home. I would be all alone for Shabbat. The other option, which I chose, was to attend my shul Friday night and Saturday morning and leave right after Musaf service to drive in order to make the trip in time for dinner at night.
I understand I made the “wrong” decision according to Jewish law, but in the process of conversion, it seems like the right decision. I look forward to Shabbat services each week. It is really the only time each week when I get to be in community with Jews. It is a chance to learn and grow in ways that a guide or conversion book just can’t provide. I love to pray alone, but there is a new dimension gained when I am in shul praying and singing along with others.
Laws are always important, especially when you are learning in order to convert, but I do feel like in some of these instances community is even more important. Shabbat is beautiful even when I sit in a room alone eating salad, praying and studying, but when I do the same things in the context of a Jewish community, Shabbat becomes even more magical. Community plays a very special role in Judaism and is extremely important when trying to enter the larger Jewish community. At this point, I feel it is important for me to do anything I can to spend time within my Jewish community.