You are so lucky, you get to choose.
After a month of talking nothing other than jew, jewish, judaism, conversion, shabbat, and hebrew–I’m getting much more concise in my answer, “Why are you converting?”
Actually the question is usually, “But you don’t have a boyfriend/fiance/husband, why are you converting?” Not that it takes a jewish partner to have a reason, but the catalyst usually isn’t there without a one.
The story starts with Kosher Sex and ends with me in Rabbi Zedek’s office at Emmanuel. How an orthodox rabbi got an agnostic from Indiana to become a reform jew, that’s the story. Pepper with a crush on a secular jew and being given a hebrew name anyway.
I’m also getting more confident in my choice, stronger in my opinions, stronger in my resolve that this is what I’m doing. Tonight I encountered a new reaction–envy from a born-jew. She thought I was lucky to be able to be a Jew By Choice as an adult. When she was 13 and had to choose, she certainly wasn’t ready to accept judaism. But at 27, this isn’t a teenage rite of passage. This is my adult rite of passage. This is what it will take to move on with my life.
It is the same envy I feel of my jewish friends. Here I am, at 27, struggling to read hebrew, stuttering when I say Shabbat Shalom, not knowing what the holes on the seder plate is for. Learning things they take for granted, that they’ve always known. Even my secular friends who claim jewish ignorance, they know more than me. It is ingrained in their bones, they can’t help it. They are jewish.
This girl said something she’d heard once. “But Rabbi,” a conversion candidate said, “McMurphy isn’t a jewish name.” The rabbi looked at McMurphy and answered, “It will be.”
My name will be jewish, too.