Early on in the conversion process, a friend and I joked that we should marry rabbis. She was a baal teshuva, I was a convert and we sure that if we had rabbis for husband, we would have 24/7 access to everything we ever wanted to know about Judaism. It would be a dream come true!
But when my husband actually decided to become a rabbi, I wasn’t so sure about things. I didn’t realize until long after his decision what the role of a rabbi really looked like and what that meant for the rabbi’s wife. The rabbi’s wife doesn’t choose to be a public figure but she is treated as such: dissected, discussed and ridiculed by those around her. Acknowledging this had led me to be much more compassionate towards public figures in general, even those who choose the role.
That’s not exactly where I expected to wind up four years after deciding to convert. I didn’t plan on living Judaism in the spotlight. And I would argue that the spotlight I put on myself as a writer is quite different than the one that will shine on me as Rebbetzin. Often, I find myself stopping before I write something because I wonder if it will come back to haunt me later. There’s this internal censor building because of my husband’s career choice that wasn’t there before.
Outside of all that, it’s pretty crazy to me to imagine a world where people come to me with their issues, Jewish or otherwise. I’m having enough trouble with my issues alone. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be ready to stand up as an example of Jews everywhere, as a beacon of hope. I’m still trying to get used to living my life and accepting myself as who I am. I don’t want to add the burden of being worried about being accepted or dissected by others.
An article in The Jewish Action explores these issues further, check out “A Delicate Balance: The Role of the Rebbetzin”.