Two Saturdays ago, I was greeted by a very special place of faith, where the warmth and enthusiasm of the Rabbi, his family, and the congregation as a whole were simply overwhelming. I realised I had found the shul where I will complete my conversion to Judaism.
I am at a strange point on this journey to conversion – sitting somewhere in the middle of the beginning of a trajectory that has taken me, over several years, from Reform to Liberal Judaism and then back again, from religious texts to philosophy, to the ethical questions brought about by the choices I have to make by choosing to keep kosher (is the ideal of Judaism vegetarianism?), from Biblical to Modern Hebrew, and then to a deep, enduring love of Israel, and an opening up of my cultural world with Jewish and Israeli films now sitting on my shelves (Waltz With Bashir, Nina’s Tragedies, Lemon Tree, and the wonderful TV series Srugim and Be’Tipul…) and Israeli authors (Oz, Yehoshua….) on past, current and future reading lists. I have (re)gained my curiosity in life, in people, in ideas, in politics and current affairs, in world history, and of course in faith and belief. The steps to conversion force me to look outwards whilst also looking inwards to myself.
Which is why I acknowledge shyly but proudly that my conversion is first and foremost about faith. It is a faith that has grown awkwardly in me from its first shoots, shoots that were overrun by a very modern, very definite secularism – both mine and that of friends, colleagues, family. But these small green shoots of faith started to flourish when I began tending to them, and it is this faith that will inform the rest of my journey, pose possibly difficult questions, and be faced with the like itself.
For me, this is the search for a very personal truth and I feel privileged to be starting my conversion proper under the auspices of Reform Judaism, and with such a wise, kind, and exuberant Rabbi.