So after my earlier nervous breakdown, I took myself in hand and said “Self, this is nonsense. You know it’s the next step. Take it already.”
So I did. My letter follows below.
My name is [shocheradam], and I am interested in converting to Judaism. I send you this request in email because I am partially deaf and hearing on the phone is sometimes difficult for me. I lip-read quite well, however, and in person most people can’t tell I have a hearing loss.
I have been feeling what I can only describe as a “pull” for some time, but I have not had words for it until I was able to talk in-depth with a Jewish friend of mine about her religious path. Since then, I have been studying Judaism and finding answers to questions I’ve never had answers for before.
To date, I have read about two-thirds of Joseph Telushkin’s “Jewish Literacy,” Ronald Isaacs’ “Becoming Jewish,” Prager and Telushkin’s “Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism,” and Kushner’s “To Life!” I am currently reading through Kertzer and Hoffman’s “What is A Jew?” I have also put Diamante’s book on order at the local library and should soon be able to read that as well, along with several other books I haven’t had time to read just yet due to work constraints (I’m a teacher and it’s the end of the term).
In addition, I have been reading everything I can find on the Web about Judaism and conversion, from aish.org and chabad.org to Reform Judaism sites. I have joined two message boards for Jewish converts and have found some answers there. I have started a blog about this process, both to work out my own ideas and thoughts and to provide an eventual resource for future converts.
Most of my friends would find it very strange that I want to convert to Judaism, because I have been a fairly staunch atheist for the last decade and more, and I was raised evenly split between Roman Catholicism and fundamentalist evangelical Christian prior to that. However, I can only say that in my ongoing exploration of this pull I am feeling, I have been like Samuel, who heard G-d calling but didn’t know, at first, what he was hearing. That’s the best way I can put it. My partner also observes that every year (around my birthday in April), I go on a hunt for G-d. This year, that hunt didn’t end two weeks after it started, which tells me that I’m on to something real.
Professionally, I am a college teacher, and I have a deep love for learning. In my head, this process has felt rather like preparing for my dissertation defense. Knowing me, I can prepare forever on my own and I still won’t feel like I’m entirely “ready” to reach out for guidance. I am therefore pushing myself to do it anyway (I can always find one more thing I “have to” do before I’m “ready,” even if I’ve been “ready” for months by any reasonable standard).
As I live within a very short walking distance from your synagogue (which seems to me quite serendipitous!) I would also like to know more about [temple name] than I have been able to discover on the website alone. I am glad to see that you are a welcoming congregation that accepts GLBT and interfaith couples, as my partner and I would be both.
Having now dropped all this in your lap, I would like to request a meeting with you, at your convenience, so that we might discuss whether I would be a suitable candidate for conversion under your guidance.
So… we’ll see what happens next.