Why I’m converting (Take one)

17 01 2007

(I think this is something that’s going to take me a while to really work out, so I’ll probably write up new versions of this every few months.) 

I suppose the why behind conversion really has two parts.  1) Why are there converts at all? and 2) Why me?

The first part is (I think) the easiest one.  We make a statement, we are the ones who prove that, having seen both sides, Judaism is worth choosing.  Not just worth keeping as a quaint family tradition, not just worth keeping because it’s what you’ve always done, or because it will save family arguments, but something worth working for, and sacrificing for.  If someone with no connection to Judaism is willing to walk away from everything they are used to, to change how they dress, what they eat, to learn a new language, to spend hours a week learning a whole new set of rules to live their life by, that says something about the value of the life their choosing.  It’s much harder to simply dismiss something in the face of that sort of commitment.  I suppose that’s the truth behind the idea that G-d loves converts, not better so much as special, since we found Judaism and said “I want that” with no concrete proof of His existence. We havn’t just been shown miracles, and there’s no mountain hanging over our heads, and yet we still choose this life, as hard and as frustrating as it sometimes is.  (Not that there have been days where I’ve gotten back to my room and spent half an hour sobbing or anything…. I’m way more well adjusted than that, and bigots don’t bother me at all… *waves sarcasm flag*) 

As for the second part?  That’s a lot harder to answer, although I suppose that’s something I need to figure out.  I know what it’s not. I’m not converting because of some guy, or because I was bored one morning. On some level, I’m converting for the same reason anyone is an observant Jew, because (while I can’t articulate why, or even really understand why on some level) I know that it’s what G-d wants me to do.  Because I when I imagine living my life without Judaism, it feels like there’s a huge hole where something important used to be.  Because I love the rhythm that it gives my life.  On a silly level, because I will never again have to eat pork (icky, icky, icky), and because it gives me something constructive to do with my OCD tendencies.  Because I love the community, the people who have welcomed me with open arms (if slightly confused expressions), who have never once suggested that I’m doing the wrong thing, or criticized how I’m going about converting (well, there was one guy, but he has other issues besides that, and what his attitude represents is really the subject for another post). 
I understand that being jewish is hard, and frusterating. Trust me, I was not (as one person asked) eating my FruitLoops one morning, and decided to convert because I noticed they were kosher. I know that I have no real obligation to be jewish, and yet….
I’m sure there’s much much more to it, but that’s what I have worked out for now. 

In other news, classes should be excellent this semester.  🙂  I think this will be a good year.  

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4 responses

6 02 2007
Yoel Ben-Avraham

“I know that it’s what G-d wants me to do”

Really? I thought Judaism taught that HaShem wants each human being to achieve their potential where they are. Non-Jews should observe 7 Noachide laws, Jews 613 commandments but to think that HaShem wants a non-Jew to become a Jew?

That YOU want to realize YOUR potential as a Jew, that YOU might not be satisfied with the Noachide Judeophile role in this life … thats is what YOU want? Don’t blame HaShem!

Hope you don’t mind me playing devil’s advocate?

(Avraham) Yoel Ben-Avraham
Shilo, Benyamin

6 02 2007
Lilian

Hi Emily, I am finding your blog really interesting. I love Judaism, and have read a lot about converting, although I don’t think I ever will. I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what do your family think about it? Are they religious themselves? You seem to have a lot of support, which is great.
All the best with your conversion ‘process’. Lilian

6 02 2007
Emily

Lilian- What my family thinks is really a long long story. Short answer, I think they’re starting to be ok with it. I do have a lot of support, mostly from the community at my college, which has been wonderful. I’ll try and write something about my family tommorrow, I’ve been meaning to.
Have you looked into B’nei Noach organizations? If you’re interested in Judaism, but don’t want to convert you might find it interesting.

(Yoel Ben-Avraham- I responeded to your comment in a post here:
Who Chooses to Convert?
)

6 02 2007
Lilian

Thanks for replying so quickly! I will look forward to reading your post about your family. Yes, I’ve looked into B’nei Noach organisations, and will continue to investigate, thanks for the tip. Glad your family are at least beginning to be ok with your conversion. L

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