I am working on a project about the experience of conversion to Judaism, and there’s a question I’d like to ask of my readers who converted to Judaism. If you choose to participate, please answer via the Comments on this post.
Please only answer this if you became a Jew after your birth, and you have completed that process – you are officially Jewish.
At what point in the process of conversion or after did you feel unequivocably Jewish? Was it at some point in the year of living Jewishly, or during your study, or after brit milah, or after the beit din, or after the mikveh, or at some event later? Be as specific as you can – I’m looking for a particular moment at which you were clear that you were definitely Jewish and not anything else.
There are no wrong answers to this question, and I ask readers not to comment on the answers anyone leaves here. I promise to delete any comments upon comments for this one.
I also certainly understand if you prefer not to answer.
Thank you to all who participate!
12 thoughts on “Question for My Readers: Conversion”
Hi Rabbi Adar. I took a one-year Intro to Judaism class at a synagogue before I began the conversion process with a Rabbi. By the time I began with the Rabbi, the issue was already settled for me. I understood that there were many, many things that I did not yet know about Judaism and living Jewishly (which still remains true 15 years later!), but there was no doubt in my mind or conflict in my soul about being Jewish. For me, finding Judaism was more like coming home to my self than becoming something new. Both the Rabbi and the BJE informed me in very clear terms that I was not Jewish until a Rabbi said I was Jewish, so I found a new Rabbi and still avoid the BJE. I studied with a new Rabbi, sat before three “judges”, entered the mikvah, and accepted the Torah from my Rabbi at an Erev Shabbat service…but those felt more like “being Jewish,” than “becoming Jewish.” So, I’d say before I met with a Rabbi to discuss conversion. Thank you, jen
Thank you so much, Jen! Very helpful.
I have forwarded this on to my husband who became a Jew by choice before we got married 10 years ago. But I did want to say (and this is something I wrote in my memoir), that when Jack had his mikvah and came out of the bath (after me and two women rabbis sang blessings outside the door!) he seemed different to me. He looked different. There was definitely a change. It was spiritual and mystical and emotional. What a wonderful moment.
It was also the same day that the Rabbi, who completed Jack’s conversion, his wife completed hers, too.
Thank you, Pamela. I will look forward to hearing from him.
I felt Jewish through and through at the first Shabbat service following my conversion. I pulled a pretty talit out from a shared supply, and when I looked up, someone I recognized was there, and he kindly helped me with the blessing, because I honestly hadn’t remembered what to do next. Even though I was already an active participant in Torah study and Shabbat services. I found great comfort knowing that I was officially part of the tribe. That I was able to act as a Jew in appropriate matters, knowing there is a lifetime of learning ahead, and that learning from other Jews, who treat me with respect as with any other Jew in my community, even though they know I’ve got a lot to learn, became my new existence.
Thank you, Jacqueline! I appreciate your reply very much.
I knew I had found the religion of my soul before I even began the conversion process. But I did not feel Jewish until years after my mikveh and beit din. I remember explaining the laws of kashrut to someone who was born Jewish, and still feeling that she was the “real” Jew and I was the pretender. The problem was that ethnic Jews can be quite clannish, and my religious practice was unimportant to many Jews I met, compared to whether I liked pickled herring or remembered a Yiddish-speaking grandmother.
I did not feel Jewish until I joined a small Renewal congregation that was all about the religion and G*d. Then my confirming moment was when I went up to the Torah in a group aliyah, and we all received a blessing on the theme of the Torah reading. After that, I belonged.
Thank you, Melissa! Very helpful.
I entered the conversion process because I ‘felt’ Jewish from high school. The mikvah and beit din were not emotional experiences for me, but when they put the Torah in my arms at the conversion celebration, I found I could not stop crying. That is when I felt fully Jewish.
That was twelve years ago, and I’ve never regretted my decision.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience!
I brought up Flegg’s statement on being Jewish at the beit din. Later that night at the conversion ceremony, the Rabbi surprised me by asking me to read Flegg’s words to the congregation. Then I spoke about my conversion journey.
The addition of the Flegg reading and the overwhelming response I received from my own talk – together they told me – you are part of this community and you have something to contribute to this community.
I was Jewish.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Noa Aviva! Very helpful indeed.