You never know how much something weighs on your heart until a room full of very curious children pries it open. Today children at my Temple's religious school were asking me questions about what it is like converting from being a Christian to being a Jew in their community. They had such wonderful, insightful questions about my journey. They had questions about the mikveh, about the Beit Din and about what happens next. What happened next surprised us all, I think. 

Somehow we came upon the topic of how many times people born Jewish ask me kind of personal questions because I am a convert that they would not ask of someone who was born Jewish. While I am completely not ashamed of being a convert, sometimes the questions can feel a little intrusive. Sometimes, I ask the same questions of the person who questioned me just to see if they have a response too. I'm not trying to be rude, I just want to explore their Jewish journey too. I asked the children what is the most important part about being Jewish is to them to see what their on the spot answers are.

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Sometimes I do think the most uncomfortable thing for me is being asked to define very clearly for the personal parts of my journey that people born Jewish may not be asked to define. Like why did I choose Judaism from of all the religions in the world? I would counter: why do people born Jewish continue to be Jewish in a world where they are born into a minority that is persecuted in many places? Another question I am asked often is: what is the most significant ritual to you? I think this is a valid question of all Jews and can be a great way to connect Jews to places they can serve in their community. A further question converts are asked a lot: what area of Jewish theology resonates the most with you? Likewise: which area do you need to learn more about? Asking these questions of all Jews can be a way of letting teachers and rabbis know of areas in which they can set up seminars or lessons that would be of interest to the community. 

I think that it is important that questions be asked of all Jews all the time, we should be continually internally evaluating ourselves to see where we are and seeing if there are signs of growth in our lives. As Jewish communities, it is important to ask questions to see where we are at as a group to see if we are all together meeting our goals and have common values. 

And as the title promised, children and readers, I need to apologize. What the conversion process has given me, what my Rabbi has given me, is the most precious gift in the world. It is definition, is clarity and it is the safety harness that allows me to reach new heights in Judaism without fears of slipping and falling. The conversion process gave me the safety to explore the hard and difficult questions of the soul while a Rabbi walked with me and held a flashlight to explore the dark and uneasy places of the heart. Without this conversion process and the Jewish Discovery Institute's Pathways to Judaism class, I would not have the spiritual security and foundation that I now have to enjoy and build upon.  Without my Reform Rabbi by my side and our weekly meetings to discuss questions and theology, I would not be as comfortable moving through prayers and the Torah as I am today. All this time I have been taking for granted the very thing that has given me the security to be the Jew that I am today. 

As a Jew I will no longer take for granted the blessings I have been given through my experiences and through the experiences of others. I will value my accomplishments in having done the hard soul work and continue that work. I will see the questions I am asked not as intrusive but as reminders to continue to evaluate my answers as I continue to grow as a Jew. I will ask myself questions about my place in my community and look for opportunities to grow. I will not take for granted where I have been or where I am going. 

Where I am going is just as important as where I have been. And so we come to the second part of this post: the promise. As a Jew and a convert, I promise not to take for granted where I am going. I am going great places! I just am breaking in these new shoes that I got in October and cannot wait to see where these shoes take me. As I ask myself questions, as others ask questions of me, as G-d asks questions of me - I will continue to grow spiritually. I will continue to blossom in my community as they continue to blossom around me. I will not take my community for granted- or the questions they ask. I cannot wait to see where we go!

And most of all, I will not take the questions and class time with children for granted and I look forward to further discussions!
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