Yesterday, I was at a meal, a buffet, with a bunch of rabbinical students and rabbis. I was happy to see so many faces I knew. One of the rabbis was talking to me about the possibility of telling the stories of all the converts who are experiencing difficulties as a result of the new RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) GPS (Geirus/Conversion Policies and Standards) system.
I half-joked to this rabbi in response that as a convert, I didn’t want to piss off the RCA and get my conversion revoked. A number of the rabbinical students at the table laughed along with me and eventually the rabbi who was speaking to me left to get some food from the buffet. There was an empty seat next to me between me and another rabbi I’ve never met before.
This other rabbi who I didn’t know but who may or may not have heard bits and pieces of the conversation from sitting on the other side of the rabbi I had been speaking started glancing at me and then looking away when I made eye contact.
But now with the other rabbi gone, this rabbi leaned over the empty seat vacated by the last rabbi and he asked, not me who was sitting directly next to him, but my husband, “So, what’s your wife’s background?” As if I wasn’t right there sitting right next to him. Suddenly, in one fell swoop, I was a super hero: the great Invisible Woman. My stomach felt like it had dropped out of my body.
There was a pause before my husband responded coyly, looking from me warily to the rabbi and back: “Background? What do you mean my wife’s background? What background?” The rabbi refused to make eye contact with me at this point.
In my head, I imagined my husband adding, “Well, she has a background in teaching and a Master’s in Education to boot.” But he didn’t say that. He just stared at the rabbi until the rabbi returned to his meal with his questions unanswered. And I still felt like I had been rendered invisible.