Conversion

Well, I converted this past Sunday.

I’m not going to lie – I was super nervous in the hours leading up to my appointment. Not because I had doubts (I didn’t), but because I wasn’t 100% convinced I was going to be “accepted”. Allowed in. In hindsight, it was a pretty irrational fear. But hindsight is 20/20.

So, beyond the class that I started in September (which ended about two weeks ago), I had to prepare an essay, go before the Beit Din, and then go to the Mikvah if both those other things went okay.

My essay could be as long, or as short, as I needed it to be, and mine ended up going on for 12 pages because I’m wordy and don’t know when to stop writing. XD I was given a list of suggested topics to cover, and I tried to touch on most of them although I couldn’t go too into detail on any of them. I submitted that on the last day of my class, and writing it was hard. I agonized over it for a long time. I had known for over a year that an essay would be required, but I’d sort of put off writing it because I just couldn’t get it right. So when I finally had to force myself to put words on paper as a result of a looming deadline, it wasn’t great. At least, I didn’t think so.

Then on Sunday had I had my appointment with the Beit Din. The Beit Din is a council made up of three rabbis; my Beit Din had the rabbi who had been teaching the class, the other rabbi at the synagogue I attend, and someone who isn’t “officially” a rabbi, but is more along the lines of a lay clergyman. He’s a rabbi but not a rabbi, if that makes sense. They asked me all sorts of questions about me and the essay that I wrote.

In the essay I had written, somewhat offhandedly I think, that I would likely be starting a family on my own. (In answering the question about how I would raise my children Jewish, if I had children.) They really sort of narrowed in on that comment near the end of our meeting. They asked me some questions, tried to determine why I had written what I had.

I won’t go into lengthy detail about the conversation. What I will say is that they asked me if I was open to a relationship/a more traditional family. I said that I was, but that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the having kids should I not find a husband. They said they wanted to see me able to have both, and that there are lots of single Jewish men in the community who want what I want – to settle down, have a family. It’s a little difficult to explain what exactly that conversation sounded like (I think from the way I’m writing it, it sounds a little like religious men trying to push me towards me being a more traditional woman and it wasn’t that at all) but I will say this… I can’t recall a time I have ever felt so profoundly, genuinely, cared about by people who aren’t family. And by that I mean, I was sitting there facing three rabbis, and I could have so easily felt ganged up on, or judged, or dismissed. Instead, I could tell that these questions and comments were coming from this incredible place of genuine care and concern.

I had already decided to take a bit of a break from trying after cycle four was a bust, so I haven’t made any attempt in May to get pregnant.

But I think, after the conversation on Sunday, I may put the plan on hold for a couple more months. Not forever, not even indefinitely.

But maybe there’s a reason that relationships haven’t worked out for me before now. Maybe there’s a reason that I miscarried in February. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Maybe now that I’m part of this new community, I’m going to meet the people I’m supposed to meet and have the opportunities I’m supposed to have.

And if not, and it’s all a bust and I don’t meet anyone or I don’t meet anyone I could see myself being with, then I start trying again to conceive on my own. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen. And it only seems fair to give myself another chance to take the more “traditional” route, now that I’m going to be interacting with new people, and participating in a new community. I mean, in all honesty, that would be my preference. If nothing else, all the stress of trying to get pregnant sucks. It sucks doing it on my own, and suffering disappointments and loss on my own. Being with someone would certainly be easier.

On one hand, I don’t love the idea of putting everything on hold even longer. But on the other, wouldn’t it be nice to have both? The husband, and the baby?

Anyway, so that conversation has definitely affected me and I’m feeling conflicted. Until I’m no longer feeling conflicted, the baby attempts are getting put on hold. I don’t want to jump into this, unsure.

So after the Beit Din was the Mikvah, but I think I’m going to write about that in another post because this one is already far too long. XD

I’m so excited that I’ve finally converted, and looking forward to what that means for the future. I’ll try to fill in some of the gaps here later – I had almost no posts about the process between when I started the class and when I converted almost a year later, so I definitely want to get everything else filled in too as I have time.

 

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The First Step (Part II)

My meeting with Cantor Mass was at 11am – I was so relieved to find that he was friendly, welcoming and happy to answer any and all questions that I had. (And I definitely had lots… and will have plenty more to come, I’m sure!)

I’m going to be starting the Choosing Judaism class in September. It’s not a “conversion” class in the strictest sense of the word… apparently in the past lots of attendees were already Jewish and looking to learn more about their people/history/religion/background. I think this is great, because I’ll be meeting a pretty wide variety of people when I attend.

The class runs from September 2017 to May 2018. I’ll get to experience all the major Jewish holidays during the program. If I still want to convert at the end of the process (I don’t have to commit ahead of time, but I am going into it with conversion in mind) I prepare an essay on my journey to Judaism thus far and stand before the Beit Din – generally a council of three rabbis – who will ask me questions and determine if I’m sincere and ready. If they decide yes, I go into the Mikveh (ritual bath) and come out a Jew.

It seems pretty simple, but I know it’s not – in that there’s a lot to learn and experience before I’m ready to take the leap. It seems rather foreign to me because growing up in a Christian (protestant) environment, you only had to say a little prayer and then poof, insta-Christian. They don’t require you to study, or learn, or understand what you’re getting into before you join. (I think the Catholic Church maybe does though? I don’t know anything about conversion to Catholicism.)

There’s no required reading list in this particular course, which is apparently something of an anomaly. But that’s okay – I’ll do my own reading. Oh and will I ever read! I already have about ten books coming in to the library near my place from other libraries in the city. I’m going to power through those before finding more. I’ll get what I can from the library, and buy copies if I really love them. There are some on suggested reading lists online that I can’t get out of the library so I’ll have no choice but buy them if I want to read them. But hey, I’m a big fan of book buying so this is no hardship for me. XD

I feel like I’m headed in the right direction, and it’s a good feeling.