Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

Static on the Jewdar

on March 28, 2014

“I had my bat mitzvah in Israel.”

These words shimmy across the office and tug on my ears. I swear, I wasn’t even listening to the conversation happening in a different room until this sentence came and introduced itself to me. “Listen, interesting stuff over here”, it says.

I feel like I’ve developed some kind of Jewdar (my friends use this term when describing the innate sense they have that allows them to tell right away whether someone is Jewish or not or being able to find the nearest Jew in the room). Anytime someone mentions something Jewish, I tune in.

So, I wander over to my co-worker’s office and invite myself into the conversation between him and my friend. She retells her story about birthright, her bat mitzvah, and how she truly discovered herself when she visited her homeland.

Even though she is the one with the interesting stories, she begins to tell Scott how intriguing I am.  My friend only found out a couple days ago that I was not yet “officially” Jewish, I just “do Jew” I suppose you could say. She jokes that I’m more Jewish than she, though I protest. Everyone’s different. I tell Steve about my upcoming Intro to Judaism class in the fall.

While fascinated, he is slightly skeptical. He asks me, “But what if you’re wrong? What if being Catholic was right and now you make the wrong decision and you have to live with that?”

Trust me, I’ve thought about this question a lot. When I first started exploring the beliefs of Judaism and asking myself how it compared to my Christian upbringing, I was terrified. I thought I would get sent to Hell just for even considering that Jesus was not divine. Later, after I had reconciled my own beliefs, I began to question how my family, who is so loving and good, could believe in something that I believed to be falsehood. Why would my sister, who wants to be a nun, devote her life to worshipping a man like a god? How could I accept the divinity of Christ as a child and then lose it in adulthood? Was I a stupid child or a wayward adult?

I told Scott that everyone is right. Or even better, there is no right and wrong, only different ways of expressing interpretations and opinions. If you believe in something and your beliefs help you to become a better person and add goodness to the world, more power to you. If it works for you, then you should do it.

For me, I could live what I was told was “right” my whole childhood. But that would not be true to myself, and THAT is what makes Catholicism wrong for me. Judaism is what connects to me on a deeper, spiritual level and it is the community in which I have made my home. As a child, I believed what I was told, and so it held truth. Now that I do not believe any more, the gospel speaks no truth for me. It is not right for me, and I would be living a lie to say otherwise.

Scott had enough of an open-mind to appreciate my answer, for which I am grateful. I know my reasoning is not popular  in many Christian circles. But that’s okay. I’ll try to stay out of trouble, unless my Jewdar tells me otherwise.


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