Why I Decided to Convert to Judaism
From Christianity to Judaism
I like to joke and say that I first decided that I wanted to become Jewish after watching an episode of Sex and the City. You know, the one where Charlotte becomes Jewish so that she can marry Harry. So pretty much all of Season Six.
While that is clearly not the reason I decided to pursue a Jewish conversion, there is a tiny bit of truth in that statement. You see, for someone who grew up in a secular “Christian” household and in a town that had close to no diversity, religious or otherwise, I didn’t even know that converting to Judaism was an option.
I kind of always looked at Judaism and thought it was a super cool and meaningful religion that you had to be born into. So I kind of just put the idea of converting on the back burner and tried to ignore it, but I guess Hashem had other plans; because that desire just kept coming back, more demanding every single time.
You could definitely say that my journey towards conversion is definitely a somewhat unique one. I didn’t realise I needed to convert until I was in my mid 20s. I didn’t convert because of a spouse, or even have any connections in the Jewish community whatsoever, and to complicate matters, my husband wasn’t Jewish. I had come to the decision through a deep journey of self discovery and soul searching. In fact, it led many to wonder: “Why would you want to be Jewish?” A question I sometimes struggled to answer, not because I didn’t know, but rather because the answer was complicated and multi-faceted.
You could say that my journey towards Judaism began with a quarter life crisis. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I even began to question the faith that I had been raised with; in all honesty, it was probably out of fear and denial. Now, it’s not that I had grown up in a particularly religious family where the fear of God had been enshrined in me from an early age, but quite the opposite—in fact, it was almost a lack of religion. My family would call themselves Christians but they weren’t really. If anything, it was a cultural or secular form of Christianity.
It was only when I really started contemplating what it was that I believed that I realised that there were things intrinsically wrong with the theology of Christianity. It just didn’t make sense, at least to me personally. Like the oneness of God; how could God be one but in three parts? How could people suffer in hell for all eternity? Especially just for not believing in Jesus. And while we’re on the subject of Jesus, how can you be both God and the son of God? I just couldn’t get my mind around it. In truth, I don’t think I ever really bought into the idea of Christianity, but rather I was too afraid to admit that I didn’t believe it—because I thought if I didn’t believe in Jesus I would go to hell. I especially never liked that Christianity just espoused that all you had to do was believe in someone. What about the morals? Ethics? Doing good for the world? No. It wasn’t enough, I needed something more practical. What good is believing if it doesn’t change the world for the better?
As soon as I discovered that Christianity was unquestionably not for me I started researching other faiths. And what better place to start than the roots of Christianity itself? I guess in part I was trying to understand where Christianity was coming from but instead of answers I just got more questions.
I started researching Judaism and it was pretty much the only religion that made sense to me. The more I read the more I was enveloped, it was like someone had lit a spark underneath me. Judaism; it just felt right. It felt authentic, no false pretences. There was meaning in everything, no more just believe in something or someone, it was about your actions, you had to do something. And if there is any concept that speaks to me it is Tikkun Olam; repairing the world. The Jews being partners with God to be a moral compass and make the world a better place? Now that was something I could definitely get behind.
Fast forward to 2016. There was no ignoring my deep inner desire to become Jewish, it was something I absolutely had to do. But that is a story for another time.