Okay, I’m gonna go ahead and come out and say it: I’m a Jew.
Or, to be more precise, a Jew-in-training.
While that may come as a surprise to many of you, the first thing I will say about it is that it is merely a change in terminology for me–this is how I have felt and what I have believed for most of my life. But I didn’t think that there was an option to Christiany since our world is so overwhelmingly Christian, and so I’ve spent most of my life trying to talk myself out of how I feel, of what feels right. I’m done with all of that now; I am giving a name to what has been in my heart for so long.
If I had to pick a moment where this all started, I would say it began when I decided to enroll in a class about Judaism back in spring 2010. I needed a class to fulfill my religious requirement, as did my friend Kiki, so we took it together. And as I sat there, asking questions and taking furious notes, I realized that this was something I wanted to be part of. For my experiential portion of the class, I participated in a seder with a (then) very good friend and her family, who welcomed the Gentile to the table with such openness and kindness that I never wanted to leave. She and I had a falling out in the fall, which still breaks my heart, but I will always remember those couple of days with warmth and love–I fell in love with Judaism at her table.
After that, I spent a little over two years trying to talk myself out of it. I styled myself a Messianic Jew for a while because I was so afraid to commit, to tell my mom that I never believed Jesus was the Son of God after all, that “God the Father” as she knows Him is the only God I know, that my heart lies in her Old Testament and in the history of the Jewish people. But as I attended a Messianic Jewish service with my Jewish roommate and my best friend, both of whom volunteered to accompany me to this new place, I realized that every problem I have with Christianity as a faith was still present. On the drive back from Skokie, I looked at them through the rearview mirror and simply said, “I think I just want to be plain Jewish.”
And so I looked up my old Judaism professor, found the congregation he presides over, and attended High Holiday services with them (paying for full price tickets because I wanted to show my commitment). That was in early September, right before the strike ended–and I have not looked back. I am filling out my membership form, I am joining the choir, and I am staying.
Which brings me to the reason I am writing this post today of all days–I had my first official conversion meeting with my rabbi today. Things have been touchy on the subject due to things completely unrelated to me so it took us a while to meet, but as we spoke today I am happy to say that words just poured out of me and he understood. We set a course of action (do some more reading/studying, set some goals), but he could see my determination and has agreed to be my converting rabbi if and when the time comes.
So now we read, we study, we learn–and we wait for God’s time, until we are ready to take the next step.