When I saw the blurb for this post at Kveller.com on Facebook, I did a double-take. I, too, grew up Catholic and dabbled in paganism and Wicca (and atheism) before finding Judaism just last year.
And although I came to Judaism for different reasons than the writer did, I identify specifically with this:
“Somewhere along the line, I became Jewish. It wasn’t at the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), it wasn’t at the formal meeting with my Beit Din (rabbinical court) during my conversion process, and it wasn’t during a year’s worth of discussions every month with the rabbi.”
I have yet to stand before the Beit Din or go to the mikveh – that’s next summer. But I have been a part of the Jewish community at my synagogue for nearly a year now, waiting to take the formal classes that will allow me to go to the Beit Din and the mikveh. And somewhere along the line, I became Jewish too. I attended High Holy Days services and prayed with everyone else. I attend Shabbat services at least once a month, and more if my husband’s work schedule permits it. I have Shabbat dinners for friends and family at least twice a month. I’ve already paid for my Introduction to Judaism classes that start next month.
I pray the brachot every time I eat. I pray the Sh’ma morning and night and find comfort in it. My home is a Jewish home – it has a hanukkiah on the bookcase, a siddur and a Torah commentary on the coffee table, a hand-painted besamim box and havdalah candle holder on a shelf near the dining table, Shabbat candlesticks in the dining room, a box of Shabbat candles in a kitchen cabinet… I find myself humming Jewish and Israeli songs pretty much constantly. I wear a kippah and a Mogen David openly, and I dream of the tallit that I’ve picked out and the day that I finally get to put it on. I found my faith and my people.
My rabbi told me that conversion happens “along the way.” It’s not about the moment at the Beit Din or the mikveh. It’s about the point at which “us” comes to my lips much more easily than ‘they”. When my first response is “I’m Jewish.” When I know that I’m a Jew so deeply that I don’t even have to question it.
I’ve passed that point. The rest, as was once said about the Torah, is commentary. It’s a commentary I’ll be learning for the rest of my life, but it’s okay that I, too, came late to this party. The point is that I came to the party, no matter when it happened.