Introducing Eliava Zoheret bat Avraham v’Sarah.

Earlier tonight, accompanied by my Jewish brothers and sisters in my spiritual home, I got to celebrate my conversion publicly as I was named before my congregation. I got to hold the Torah for the first time, and to lead us in the Shema, and to share my Jewishness with my awesome aunt Myrka, without whose support I do not know that I would have been able to do this.

I got to tell the congregation about my name, so here goes: Eliava, “God has willed it,” because I took these steps to answer God’s call, follow His will. Zoheret, “shining” or “splendor,” a nod to my secular middle name and to the splendor of entering the Jewish people. And, as every other (female) convert, bat Avraham v’Sarah, “daughter of Abraham and Sarah,” who turned away from the lives they knew to follow God’s call, as I am doing now.

Words fail me right now… I am still filled with joy at the kind of words of my congregation and the presence of those who came specifically to celebrate with me tonight. I am so grateful to be welcomed to the House of Israel with open arms… when I said finishing my conversion would be coming home, not even I had any idea how true that would turn out to be. I am filled with peace and joy and love, and everything just feels right. As I said on Wednesday, I am home.

Thank you Lord, for granting me life, sustaining me, and enabling me to reach this beautiful occasion.

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I am officially Jewish!

I DID THE THING, YOU GUYS–I went to the mikvah today, immersed three times, and walked out a member of the House of Israel.

I’m not going to pretend the entire thing wasn’t nerve-wracking. I was so nervous all day at work that I ended up asking Renata to drive for me. We picked up Shane by our apartments, I got some Starbucks, and we headed up to Wilmette. My rabbi was already there, punctual as always, as was one of the other members of my beit din, the one I have met before. We waited a bit for the other one, and I found myself pacing around the lobby of the synagogue, looking at the Hebrew on the ceiling. My rabbi came over and quizzed me a little, grinning the entire time, but it did little to put me at ease. And then I met the final member of the beit din, my congregation’s previous rabbi. After a nervous goodbye to Shane, Renata, and Laurie from tample, the “mikvah lady” led us to a private room to speak.

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