Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

A Layer of Ownership

on May 23, 2015

Recently, I read that going to the mikveh is more of an additive process rather than a subtractive one. I like that idea a lot. Many of my Christian friends equate going to the mikveh for conversion with baptism, which is fine, but if I wanted to wipe the slate clean and start again as a born again Christian, I could have just as easily done that. The mikveh doesn’t wash away our past or purify our souls. It takes what we already have and transforms it. If you’ll permit me to use a food analogy, we are all bagels (different flavors and ages and sizes and seasonings) and the water of the mikveh is the shmear or the cream cheese and the lox- you tasted good and now you taste BETTER. An extra layer of tasty goodness.

I’ve been trying to think of layers I can add that will enrich the Jewish identity of post-mikveh Jenn. What kinds of toppings do I want to add to my bagel? When my sponsoring rabbi and I were discussing my upcoming conversion, he asked what I was looking forward to doing as a new Jew. Immediately, an image came to mind of me standing in front of my Jewish community, holding a glass filled with grape juice as the light outside begins to dim, and leading about 50 or so college kids in Kiddish. I know it seems like a small dream, but it’s something I’ve wanted since it was first denied to me a year or so ago. Soon I will not just be the woman who is really familiar with or passionate about Judaism, but also the woman who is Jewish. I can explain and share my OWN culture.

Once I have that sense of ownership, I can use my other passions to create new traditions within Judaism, keeping it very much alive while making it a part of myself. Last Shabbat when our cantorial intern was leading services, he mentioned that one of his favorite things to do was bring new melodies to the services and share them. I completely understand- you are not only sharing something beautiful, but your presentation and the quality of your voice creates an entirely new prayer experience that is all your own. Whether it’s through music or food or writing or something else entirely, I look forward to making a mark in a tradition that is old and ancient and soon to be mine.

I hope that my conversion will add to this growing sense of belonging that I’ve gathered over the years. More and more I’ve become a part of a tradition that is beautiful, and I feel like a member of a community that lives so vibrantly. I can’t wait to officially call this place and these people mine and for them to do the same for me.

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One response to “A Layer of Ownership

  1. Adam says:

    Reblogged this on Wrestling With God and commented:
    This is well worth a read.

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