How perfect is it that these verses appear in this week’s Torah portion (Parashat Sh’lach):
15 There shall be one law for you and for the resident stranger; it shall be a law for all time throughout the ages. You and the stranger shall be alike before the Lord;
16 the same ritual and the same rule shall apply to you and to the stranger who resides among you.
Stranger. Ger, in Hebrew. The stranger who resides among you.
Today, I spoke with the rabbi at the temple down the street, where I’ve been attending, for two hours. We talked about my religious background, my struggles with G-d, my struggles with religion, my current partnership and my ex-partners, my children and my family. We talked about the fact that I’m in an interfaith, GLBT relationship. We talked about my partner and about the spiritual helicopters. We talked about my difficult relationship with my abusive mother. We talked about Kabbalah. We talked about music and ritual and learning and argument. We talked about tikkun olam.
At the end of that two-hour meeting, I was accepted as a candidate for conversion under his instruction and guidance. His estimate is that it will be about a year. He’s still putting together the conversion class curriculum and hopes to start classes in the late summer for me and the other conversion candidates he’s got learning from him.
I have waited for 43 years. Another year will not be a problem. I was originally going to type “another year won’t make a difference,” but that would be a mistake. This coming year is going to make an enormous difference.
He also approved of the name that I chose. I’m going to keep that to myself for now, but when the time comes, you’ll all know it.
And yes, I said a shehecheyanu when I recovered from the shock.
I talked with my best friend about it over lunch, and just now, walking back to my apartment. I asked her if it was going to change things, now that I’ve been accepted as a candidate for conversion. She asked me why it would. I said, “Because my Yiddishkeit is probably going to get more overt.” She said she would not have a problem with that, so I don’t have to, either.
My partner texted me to find out how it went, and whether I was accepted. When I told him it went great and yes, I was, he responded back that he was happy for me. Even if he will never be a Jew, he supports me in this. It means more than I can put into words.
So now I suppose I should say my rabbi and my temple. My congregation and my shul. My faith and my practice.
Because I will not be a stranger for long.