Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So, on Sunday night, I had my bimonthly game night, where friends from high school, college, law school and the Jewish community are welcome to come over and play board games and video games. It's my attempt to squeeze socializing into my busy schedule in a regular, wholesome way.

A friend from college said that she was Jewish and asked me why I would want to convert. She knows me from my Christian days, and was flabbergasted by my change of heart.

I have had to answer that question quite a few times, but it never becomes easy. The answer that immediately comes to my tongue is "Because, it's what God wants me to do." I always restrain myself, but I'm not sure that I should.

If you'll excuse my trite verbiage, I think God has given me a great gift in giving me the spark to take this journey. I love learning, I find the practices I've taken on deeply rewarding, and, despite my frustrations and fears, I've felt happier and closer to God since starting this journey than I ever did before.

"The Rishonim also relate to the hidden aspect, known to Kabbalists, and write that a righteous convert's soul was meant to be born in a Jew's body and certain reasons caused it to be born as a gentile. In the responsa attributed to the authors of Tosfos (Responsa Ba'alei HaTosfos, Appendix I, Paragraph 19), they state so regarding our Gemara, which says that "the son of David will only come when all the souls will end from the guf (lit. body)": "My teacher, my father-in-law zt"l citing Rav Y. Chasid explained that there is a room in Heaven called Guf, containing all the souls meant to be given to people, and the appointed angel...takes from the room and puts in a woman's womb and sometimes he puts a soul fit to be a Jew into a Gentile's womb and he becomes a convert."

It's difficult because I didn't get a badge, or a seal, or any other physical proof that I'm supposed to convert. I read stories of others who have converted, and they tell amazing tales of unknown Jewish relatives, immense spiritual journeys, and volatile sparks. My tale is much less inspiring, and more meandering and pretty much just a recognition. It's powerful and life changing to me, but I don't think it would make anyone cry (except my mom). How can you explain to people that the Diary of Anne Frank was always especially interesting, Number the Stars was dog-eared from the re-reads, Chaim Potok wrote books that told irresistible stories, Introduction to Hebrew Scriptures was the first college class you signed up for, and the numerous other ways that Judaism and its people have pulled you in throughout your life? Converting is difficult, being Jewish has its dangers, and my life will never be as easy as it was when I was a Christian. I know that I am not yet Jewish, but until I am, I'll be working hard to become Jewish, because that is where I belong.

It's really difficult to explain my feelings adequately. It's similar to feeling like you really belong in a certain university, and going through the application process trying to make sure that the committee knows that you're a good fit. I have that same anxiety, that maybe they'll see that I'm not quite good enough, but the hope that they'll see the depth of my desires and let me in.

1 comment:

Gila said...

Most of the people I know who have converted have described the same sort of experience: no revelations, no drama, no long-lost Jewish ancestry...just this knowledge that they are not where they belong.

My mother always told me that converts were special because they really wanted to be Jews, and chose it. Reading your blog, her words really ring true.