Thursday, 15 February 2007

My Reasons...

After posting yesterdays post that gave just a peek into my late teens, I am sure a few people are wondering how I came to where I am today - wanting to convert to Orthodox Judaism. Rafi G from Life In Israel was a little concerned about asking, but he did ask what made me decide to convert to Judaism. When I thought about it, I guess, after now knowing a little bit of my background you would kind of wonder.

There are so many different aspects of our reasoning, I am sure my husband has his own personal feelings and reasons on this topic and I have mine. There are some reasons that I don't need to explain, such as monotheism - my belief that G-d is one, the ability to daven directly to G-d, G-d created the universe in 6 days, there is no original sin - we choose our own path of good or bad on earth, and I have never really understood the point of Jesus and Mary statues and paintings etc, but then there are the more ingrained reasons, things that have happened over the years to make me come to the realisation that Judaism is for me and my family that need a bit more explanation.

It has almost been 12 months since my husband and I started to learn about Orthodox Judaism and decided we want to convert. I guess we have my husbands Grandmother to thank, she was Jewish. My husband had mentioned to me that she was Jewish and we started to do a bit of research about Judaism, it was then we discovered that we both held similar beliefs as Jews do, infact it was quite strange to make this discovery. After more research, my husband phoned a Rabbi in Sydney and told him that we, as a family of 5 wanted to convert. I think he was pretty shocked, I get the feeling that most people that want to convert do it for love - so they can marry someone who is already Jewish, but here we were, a whole family. I must say, he has been very supportive and very patient, he has already been waiting 12 months for us to move to Sydney to begin our conversion. Since then we have continued to learn more about Judaism and have lived as 'Jewish' as we can considering we live in the 'outback'. We have also made the commitment of making the 400km journey of moving our family back to Sydney to officially begin our conversion in June this year. Why June, why not now? Because we are in a lease that ends in June and we need that time to be able to save enough money to be able to move back to the city.

For me personally, my reasons for converting stem back further than 12 months ago. In fact some of the reasons are closely related to my previous post about my past.

I come from a family that wasn't religious at all - although I was Christened as a baby and I came from a Christian family, you would never know it. If someone in our family said they were going to church other family members would probably have looked at the person like they were some kind of alien, not because it was wrong to go to church, but because we just didn't do it.

When I was growing up my Mum was best friends with the lady next door, Sue. Sue was a Christian lady who always went to church. I don't have a problem with Christians at all, and I didn't have a problem with Sue being a Christian or with the fact that she went to church all the time - that was fine, whatever, I didn't really care, each to their own. What I did have a problem with was the fact that she was constantly trying to push my Mum into going to Church with her. My Mum felt that because she was Sue's friend that she should go, she didn't want to be rude and say no. Even though I was about 11 or 12 years old I disagreed and made sure Mum knew it. I felt like she was being bullied into going to Church and that since Sue was being so insistent she was almost trying to recruit my Mum to Christianity. It really bugged me.

So as a teenager, I wasn't to excited when Sue came over to our house, not because I didn't like her, she was a lovely lady, but I hated that she continuously tried to force her beliefs of Jesus down my Mums throat and now that I was older, my throat too, 'Why don't you come to church, it would be really good for you', 'Oh, we just had a prayer meeting, it's a pity you didn't come', 'It would be good for you to have Jesus in your life', blah, blah, blah. It wasn't mentioned just once or twice per visit to our house, it was constant talk - it was all she ever said.
It drove me insane, and I think it is the years of growing up, having the only religion I was ever really exposed to forced down my throat all the time that has really pushed me even further away from it. I was raised to be a leader, not a follower, and I didn't believe in Jesus, so I wasn't going to church! And I certainly don't believe in proselytism!

I have never believed in Jesus, I have never believed Jesus was the son of G-d or the messiah, if other people want to believe that, well that's fine, but for me personally, I can't be part of a religion that I don't believe in or feel any spiritual connection with.
I think my parents also expected me to get married in a church - well that was never going to happen. I always said I would never marry in a church because I would feel like such a hypocrite, it just wouldn't be right, being in a church makes me feel uncomfortable, I can't even begin to imagine getting married in a church.

Even though I was a bit of a rebel growing up, I come from a close-knit family, so family values have always been very important to me. In a sense, I feel that by converting, we are in a way continuing family heritage since my husbands Grandmother was Jewish. I really admire the strong sense of 'family' Jewish families have and I also admire their close community and the fact that everyone is willing to help each other. Besides wanting my girls to have strong Jewish beliefs and structure to their lives, this is the environment I want my girls to grow up in, I want them to have strong family and community values, I want them to be active in the Jewish community - if someone needs help in some sort of way, I want them to be able to stand up and help if they can (that goes for myself and my husband too). We have been amazed at the support we have received from the Jblog community over the past few weeks while Amber has had her surgery, it has made such a huge difference in our lives.

Although I am really excited and looking forward to our conversion, I do hope that when the time comes to go before the Sydney Beth Din that I won't be to nervous to be able to explain my reasons and desire to convert. How do you explain something that just feels so natural and so right in your heart?

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