As I was helping a friend work on her Hebrew pronunciation over the phone, I realized there was one word I didn't know whether or how to correct. It was the word for immersion. You see, this friend was preparing for her immersion in the mikvah as the final step of her conversion process.
Friday, June 3, 2011
This morning was the first time I'd been to a mikvah for a conversion. While many of our close family friends were converts (something I only vaguely knew growing up), their paths to Judaism had been formalized long before I could remember.
Knowing the history of hardships and expulsions, the first thing said to a person expressing interest in converting is usually along the lines of, "are you nuts?" But to see the process from beginning to end, as I had the good fortune to do, is really quite amazing.
Growing up in a Jewish home, with a Reform Rabbi for a father, going to a Conservative Shul, living in an Orthodox neighborhood, I have so deeply internalized many of the aspects of Jewish life that it is hard to understand the path of a convert.
To see much of the wisdom we take for granted as Jews, light up another's face is remarkable.
Transitioning back into the real world, try shopping for a 'Mazal Tov on your conversion' card anywhere other than The Source... it ain't easy. So when I informed the nice woman at the card shop on Euclid in the Central West End what I was looking for, I wasn't surprised when she didn't have much by way of wares to offer. I was surprised, however, when she told me that she was Jewish too and that her beautiful 22 year old daughter is in Tempe. I repaid the favor by name dropping the Hillel Rabbi down there, a good family friend, who, it turns out, had been her daughter's professor recently. The woman gave me her daughter's name and made me promise to send her a facebook message.
I should remember to tell my recently converted friend this story, to make sure she knows just what type of people, exactly, she has become a part of.