Follow Me On My Journey… Into Judaism

This is my first blog post for the Times of Israel and I am very excited to share things with you all!

For most of my upbringing, I was a product of an “a la carte” Catholic household.  We were pretty much Catholics on paper, but not in practice.  We went to church on Christmas… Ok, maybe every other Christmas.  We would also go if we were visiting my Irish Catholic grandparents, no matter what time of year it was.  I was raised to believe that Jesus died for my sins and that gay people are born that way.  I now am only a beliver in one of those two things.

After I grew up, graduated high school, and moved out of my parent’s house, my parents left the church, feeling that at that point it really didn’t fit with their actual views.  They called to quit the local parish they belonged to and were hung up on when they said their reason for quitting the parish was “to try other things”.  At that time, I was on my own journey as well.  I started to really realize that I may be a little too liberal-leaning in my beliefs and politics for the Catholic church.  I felt I really had beliefs that were more in line with Judaism.  I seemed to connect well with my Jewish friends and felt that the “social justice” that Catholics claimed to fight for was fought for better by your average Reform Judaism synogogue than any Catholic parish I had ever been to.  I found myself leaning toward becoming Jewish.

I had contacted a local rabbi to meet but then I got nervous that I was going to be judged (silly, I know) because I was not already Jewish.  At that point, my unaffiliated parents started to swing back toward Catholicism just as I started to really get used to them being open to those “new things” they had been trying and I was thinking of totally jumping ship as well.  My mother, who always was an open-minded, left-leaning person, began to transform into a totally by-the-book Catholic.  Subscribing to every doctrine that was told to her in the bible, Cathechism, and on the EWTN television network.  I began to have the idea of being fully confirmed in the church told to me in every other conversation my parents would have with me.  I felt a bit of pressure and decided to take the confirmation classes at a local parish.  I was fully baptized and confirmed on Easter 2008.

I felt at the time that I was doing it for myself and I could somehow believe and still be the liberal-leaning, open minded person that I am.  I realize now after noticing that I wasn’t really happy being Catholic and can’t subscribe to it all.  I need to be true to myself.  I understand that to my parents, Catholicism and Jesus are the core of their being, but for me it is Judaism that has still been calling out to me this whole time.  I have joined (yes, I am an official full dues paying member.  That is hard to find in this day and age) a local Reform congregation here in Madison, Wisconsin, Temple Beth El, and I am excited to begin my journey through conversion.

I am thrilled that I am being allowed to blog here for the Times of Israel. I look forward to sharing my journey into Judaism with all of you readers!


Temple Beth El is the Reform congregation I now belong to in Madison, Wisconsin.
Temple Beth El is the Reform congregation I now belong to in Madison, Wisconsin.
About the Author
Ryan Fagan is originally from Southwest Florida, and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he is employed in the financial sector and is active at Shir Tikvah, his Reform shul. He recently converted to Judaism after being raised in a Catholic household. He also goes by his Hebrew name, Aviv.
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