Five Months

Five months is a long time. A lot has happened, an awful lot.

At first I thought I would use this space to talk about the trials and tribulations of conversion. What worried me about the prospect and what excited me. But I got cold feet. By the third post, this blog was getting alot of hits and I got worried that in the relatively small world of people converting to Judaism in the D.C. area, someone in my conversion class, or even the rabbi with whom I am working, was going to run across it. So I clammed up. I took a conversion class and decided officially to convert. Throughout I kept my thoughts about the process to myself. Now, I think it is time to jump back in. I feel more confident about my conversion and less worried about who will know my concerns about the process. Today, I’d be happy to have the Rabbi I am working with read this blog.

My excitement about my conversion and about Judaism in general has never waned, and I thought this could be a good space to talk once again about Judaism, Jewish history, what it means to convert, and the mechanics of doing so.

So, hello again. I hope someone decides to read this thing.

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  1. Debbie B.

    Glad you are back. I was disappointed when you disappeared for awhile. I can understand your worries about being too public though. When I was studying with a rabbi for conversion, I wrote a couple stories for the website Interfaith Family. I didn’t use my full name, and I carefully wrote a vague enough bio that I didn’t think it would come up in a routine Google search. I was worried that word would somehow get to my parents from a third party. I had decided not to tell them until after my conversion was finalized, and I think it would make it even harder if they heard the news from someone else. I also did not want most of the people in my minyan to know because I didn’t want them to start asking when I would be finished. I had already faced that after it took nearly 10 years for me to complete my PhD. And my sponsoring rabbi did not place a time table on conversion. I only confided in: a few select minyan friends, a few JBC who could give me advice on dealing with my parents and who would understand what I was going through, and a friend who had recently lost his wife who was a major Jewish inspiration to me and who died before I could tell her that I was taking the final step to conversion. Right before my minyan friends found out, I changed Facebook settings so that minyan friends could not post a “mazel tov” on my FB Wall that my sisters could see.

    I’m also glad to see that you’ve registered at the JewsByChoice website. You’ll see that I’ve been pretty active over there.

    1. seanv2

      Thanks for commenting, Debbie. I really appreciated your comments here and on the old JBC site. The new JBC site looks really good, by the way, I am excited to be a part of it.

      As for the anonymity thing, I was concerned that I was going to write something on this blog which would end up getting repeated in the early sessions of my conversion class, and I just didn’t want to face that. Now my rabbi knows I am doing this writing, and I feel much more comfortable with my conversion and in talking about the challenges associated with it. I plan to blog here throughout the rest of my conversion process and to comment on JBC when I have something to say.

  2. Hungry Hyaena

    Welcome back, Sean! And chag sameach!

    1. seanv2

      Chag sameach! Glad to see you’re still checking in here!

  3. Debbie B.

    Here is a funny postscript to my attempts to stay somewhat anonymous in my pre-conversion Internet presence:

    The Shabbat when I announced my conversion to my minyan, a member told me that one of my Interfaith Family articles had been forwarded to him several weeks earlier by a friend in New York who had seen the article. I figured out later that it must have been during the brief window when I added some info to my bio that I was a member of an “egalitarian lay-led minyan in Chicago”, but I still had not revealed my last name (which I did only after my conversion was finalized). The NY friend wondered if he knew me, and of course he did! Even without my full name, with the info given in the article (a Chinese woman who had been married to a Jew for over 20 years, but had not converted, and who had a teenaged daughter), it was pretty obvious that it was me. This member is a a founding member of my minyan and he has known me for the 14 years that my family had been a part of the minyan. He was very considerate in carefully keeping the information to himself and not telling even me before I revealed my conversion publicly. I guess he realized that if he had not heard that I was in the process of converting, that I had wanted to keep that information secret.

    It was sort of disconcerting to have a minyan member read my article, but I guess it just means that like the member who is a rabbi and who was on the beit din for my conversion, this other member knows a bit more about my thoughts on my feelings about Judaism and my minyan that other members.

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