Written by Angel
The path that led me to the mikveh at Mayyim Hayyim and to finally become Jewish was distinctly the “road less travelled.” My best friend and love of my life was born Jewish. My daughter and I were not. If you had told me a year ago that I would find myself one summer morning immersing myself in warm water, naked, in front of a complete stranger, I would have thought you clinically insane.
My partner never asked me to convert. In fact, he never even brought it up, despite coming from a Jewish family, and having been very active at his synagogue since his youth. He was Jewish, and I was his eclectic Native American, somewhat Buddhist girlfriend (whose family is extremely Catholic). For most of my life, if you had asked what religion I belonged to, my response was that “you wouldn’t understand even if I told you.” I think if you had asked Jeremy, who had before been only a close friend since college, he would have laughed and shrugged. In fact, despite broad familiarity with many religions and many cultures, I had always thought of declaring one as anathema to who I was, convinced that no faith could encompass the diversity and totality of my beliefs.
Though little surprised him, when I expressed an interest in converting, my partner was definitely not expecting it. He recovered, however, and referred me to his Rabbi, who agreed to help guide me through the process of choosing to convert and actually converting. I think I also may have ended up surprising the man who is now “our” Rabbi. Unlike most converts, I already knew Hebrew, had spent quite some time in Israel for work, and was broadly familiar with Jewish theology, philosophy, and history (the dangers of having my graduate degree in history, emphasizing tribal cultures). Despite that, I knew very little of the practicals; basically I knew what Judaism was, but had no idea what being Jewish meant.
The more I learned, the more I fell in love, with a faith that was beautiful enough to make me want to cry, surprised at myself for never seeing it for what it was (similar in many ways to how I had come to see the man who inspired me to travel this road). Everything I knew about Judaism academically had never led me to make the connection that this was who I was, and what I believed. It took a man I loved to show it to me, ironically by not saying anything about it at all. And so I came to the mikveh and I “dunked” as our Rabbi called it, and I came out again exactly what I always had been – a Jew. That moment could not have been more complete because soon after, my daughter joined me as well, and my dearest love, who is otherwise a Marine stationed in Afghanistan, managed to skype in to share it with us.