The fact that I am choosing to share something that is extremely private and personal to me is a huge deal. I mean becoming Jewish to me is similar to birth, matter of fact, it is considered to be rebirth. Me telling my story is like you telling the story of coming out of your mother’s vagina (if you were “born” Jewish) a million times. You got me (slang for do you understand)? For some people their journey to Judaism simply starts with an egg and sperm followed by 9 months and a few pushes (cue Mazel Tov), for me it came when I trusted myself and allowed the universe to do what it does so that I could be who I am.
My story really isn’t that special, at least to me anyway because I am aware that people have been converting since Ruth.
My story is simply one of following the heart and aligning the spirit and body together.
I was raised a really modest (I know it’s hard to focus because I’m so open and always naked) young lady in a religion called Jehovah’s witness. My mom didn’t start out that way. Her parents were Methodist and Catholic. One day someone came to her door and she decided to drink the kool-aid (she bought into what they were selling). For her, she found something meaningful (I totally get it) and decided to switch faiths and raise her last two of nine children this way. I loved as a kid, to go to the kingdom hall (worship space) because I love worship however I never felt at home and did not see myself long-term being in a spiritual environment that was not real for me. As a child I had a lot of questions and questions was something you just didn’t do in that faith which is so sad because I really wanted to have a place where I could learn and that fed my soul.
I left the faith at 18. I am now 43.
I, like most 18 year old youth, just wanted to find a place I fit in spiritually but to be honest that was so low on my Christmas list. Oh wait, I didn’t have a Christmas list because Jehovahs witness’ don’t believe in it ( it’s Pagan). Nope, no holidays at all except anniversaries. Growing up with no holidays is just plain crazy but the universe has blessed me with an abundance of holidays which I now find hilarious because as a Jew I’m always on Chag overload because duh, we have lots of things to celebrate. The new month. The new moon. The new year. A new Rabbi. Brit Milah ( Bris if you are about that Yiddish life). Pesach. Birthday of the world. The trees. The wine. The…. oh wait, where was I? Oh yes I remember.
I went through life as what I call an undocumented Jew. I have a son whom I named Noah ( yup, he’s Jewish too). I got married under what I think resembled a chuppah. I lived my life to be what I now know to be a Jewish one (whatever that means but just go with it for now). Let’s be honest, Jews are a tribe anyway and I don’t really know where my people are from because being Black (African American if you want to be politically correct) sometimes means being a product of you guessed it, Slavery. So while half of the world will ask me in shock why I chose Judaism, the look on my face that I give to them is why did you choose it and since we are are on the topic of choice, shouldn’t one continue to choose it, like every day?
I tend to look at my life and my journey and realize that Hashem hand-picked me to officially be part of the tribe and to me that is the ultimate ideal of chosen. Before you get your panties in a bunch please understand that this is my story and it’s narrated by me and this is my personal feeling. If you don’t agree with me I’m okay with that because the relationship I have with my creator isn’t about you. (true story.)
More questions? Yes I was turned away by my Rabbi the typical three times and yes he made me study like I would one day be a doctor (and no that was not me trying to make a Jewish joke) but once I made my decision, nothing could keep me from the feeling that I have the honor of feeling everyday. A feeling of truth and purpose. My journey has not been an easy one. I didn’t always keep kosher (that’s very personal too ) and I although I rest on shabbat I choose what is meaningful to me and how to come close with my creator because that is what it is all about. I won’t bore you with anymore of my life choices but you should know that there is no smoke and mirrors and I be what I be.. Yehudia.
I wrote something that I had to present to the Beit Din and I will share it with you…
With each piece of material item that I shed I never felt more exposed but more confident in my decision. More at peace with who I am and with whom I will now identify myself with as a people. As I drive in to that special place I touch my neck and no longer feel my 2 necklaces that I wear daily ( a star and the shema) and as I look at my left arm, I no longer see the bracelets that I wear daily that support many causes but only my skin that is lighter in color because it has not at all been touched by the sun. As I look at my hand I don’t see the ring I was given that binds me to my husband forever, I see clarity and strength. I take a final look in the mirror to see a lone piece of jewelry hanging on that will be the last layer I shed as I enter the mikvah and bare my soul to the divine.
This is who I am and this is who I will always be!