questions from the beit din

29 September 2006

This is the last essay I wrote while working on my conversion to Judaism in 2006. My sponsoring rabbi asked me three questions, which I had to answer in written form, and gave my answers to my beit din, the rabbinical court that allows or denies Jewish conversions. The essay may not be in its final form here, but it's close; this is the latest copy I could find from backup.

1. My religious background.

I was raised a fundamentalist, evangelical Christian. I lived in Mississippi from birth until I was sixteen, then moved to Louisiana when my dad finished seminary and became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in Ruston, LA. I was a dedicated "Jesus freak" throughout childhood and into high school. When I went to college, I was exposed to different kinds of people and beliefs, and, like many college students, I started questioning the values with which I was raised. Eventually this led to my rejecting Christianity in 2001. In typical fashion, I read voraciously on non-theistic thought, science, and other religions.

2. What prompted me to consider becoming Jewish.

During the period following my de-conversion, while I was reading up on a broad variety of subjects, I felt as if I should research my religious roots, which led me to explore Judaism. Much to my surprise, Jewish beliefs coincided rather startlingly with what I already believed. The more I read, the more fascinated I became. I dropped all my non-Jewish religious study, studied Judaism more and more, started attending synagogue in November 2004, and fell in love with Judaism.

3. Why I have chosen to become a Jew.

I'm becoming a Jew because Judaism's theology makes sense, Jewish community makes me feel at home, and the religious rituals connect me to the Divine. I admire the Jewish people for their passion for questioning authority, thirst for social justice, and emphasis on study. I want to be a part of a people with such a proud history and tradition. I have chosen to become a Jew because I don't do anything halfway. I am throwing my lot in with the Jews; if I'm going to make my spiritual home in Judaism and live a Jewish life, I must do no less than be fully, publically committed to the Jewish people, no matter what happens.

I choose Judaism for a thousand reasons, but at the core of it, I have chosen to become a Jew because Judaism is the only place I have ever found G-d.