Converting to Judaism

The Oys and Joys of Choosing A Jewish Life

The Journey’s Not Over

on April 19, 2017

Hey friends!

I know it’s been a while. I stopped writing regularly because I completed my conversion and I figured, well, that’s it. I’ve done this process, I’ve gone over all the oys and joys of this converting business, and now we can move on.

Not quite.

We, the Jews by choice, never really stop choosing Judaism. We choose it in little daily acts, and we choose it in big life choices that we make as well.

I’ve realized that there are still struggles unique to a Jew by choice that continue after we have dipped and recited our brakhot and been members of our community for what feels like a long time.

I was talking with a Jewish man whom I considered a friend, and he let me know that he could never date, let alone marry, a woman who had converted to Judaism because he needs to be with a “naturally born Jewish woman.” Only a born Jew and her family could provide a true Jewish family and culture. The conversion “would never be enough.”

To all Jews who continue to see us as second class Jews, I offer the following response:

Take it from a Jew who has fought long and hard to be who she is: we are more than enough. Do you know the work I had to do to get to this place? Do you know the things I’ve sacrificed and the beautiful things that I’ve gained? We are every bit a Jew as you, and we are valid, worthy, contributing members of communities. You and your opinions are the reason I am still hesitant to answer when people ask what temple I went to growing up or how my family raised me. Because you and others like you make me feel less than. You remind us of our different past and use it against us like it is some sort of weakness rather than seeing and accepting us as full Jews.

You want a Jew who was naturally born. For me, there was nothing more natural than coming home to Judaism, and I continue to thrive in Jewish environments. Have you been in the kahal when I lead a Friday night service? Have you drunk from the cup over which I have made kiddush? Have you held my hand as we swayed and said havdalah or have you davened beside me during the days of awe? You will see that in all of these things, there is no distinction between convert and non convert. We are all Jews. We are all born with this Jewish soul that we come to realize at different points in our lives. And we are all equal.

I hope someday when I have a congregation and a Jewish family of my own and I’m changing the world for the better, you see how wrong you are about me and all converts. Though we do not need to prove ourselves to others, you will seem time and again converts who are creating lasting impacts in their Jewish communities. And it’s a beautiful thing.

To all converts who are struggling and feeling like they are made to feel unworthy, I offer the words from Joe Buchanan’s song Unbroken: “I chose a brand new path- it was waiting for years. And there was plenty of room under that tree for the whole wide world, even you and me.”

His whole song, which I had the pleasure of listening to him play recently, reassures us that, yes, indeed, it is a beautiful thing to choose to be chosen. Don’t let anyone have you believe otherwise.

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