Good afternoon everyone. Thank you, Rabbi Grushcow and Rabbi Greenspan, for all your hard work and dedication in making Temple the successful community it is. Thank you, Albert and Chantalle, for always being there for me.
I would like to say that many things led to my conversion.
- My love for Albert and 2) I believe I do have Jewish roots, and I have always been drawn to Judaism.
I have often compared my life to a series of bus route changes. One of my bus routes was that of Judaism. Before living with my life partner, I started to research a lot about Judaism. By the time I met Albert, I had a fair knowledge and had decided this was my path and route to take.
During the 11 years we have lived together, I started to celebrate Shabbat and Havdalah and all the other major holidays through the year. I went to Chabad, and tried other synagogues, as my partner is Sephardic, and, while I was very interested, I did not ﬁt well in their milieu. So, I continued doing what I had been doing …
Shabbat always brings an inner peace and calmness to me and the fact that it ends the workweek, and we rest until the end of the Sabbath and do Havdalah to bring in the new week. I was raised as a Catholic and have always been very spiritual. It also made a lot of sense to me when sharing a life with someone that you need some common territory and practising the same religion was very important to me and to us as a couple.
I am a true believer in destiny, and so, as time went on, we travelled a lot and developed many good friendships together. Reality hit me on one of our cruises. We met a wonderful couple from Australia. We talked about many things but religion was not one of them, although I did guess that she and her husband were Jewish, and Albert claimed that was why I liked them so much. We went to services on the ship, and my newfound friends were seated in the front when I walked past them to pick up my pamphlet to follow the service and a kippah. Upon seeing me she jumped up and yelled out, “I knew it, I knew it! Shabbat Shalom” …She thought I was a Jew. I shyly went back to my place and realized I was not a Jew but I was practicing and living the life of a Jew almost like an imposter. I realized at that moment that I needed to make a change.
I conﬁded in Albert’s daughter. We have always had good communication, and she is like a daughter to me. She is the one who directed me to Temple. Months later, I placed the call and had an interview and enrolled in Judaism 101 and the rest is history. That one scene on Shabbat on a cruise ship was what really made me realize what I wanted to do.
Next came the mikveh on May 2, 2017. If I live to be 100 years old, I will never ever forget how I felt on that day. I was ﬂoating. Chantalle graciously agreed to accompany me on that day, and she was a part of my important ritual. I asked if she could be a part of the ceremony, and Rabbi had her join the others behind the door where she was able to witness and hear my answers to Rabbi’s questions. Knowing she was there helped to make it that much better. It was an emotional day, and I was fortunate to have one of my intro class classmates there as well. The three of us cried tears of happiness; our emotions were so high. I was reborn on that day. I remember thinking of a baptism when the priest dips the baby’s forehead into water and names the child. Well, I too was reborn into Judaism in the ritual bath waters and received a Hebrew name, as well. Afterwards, Rabbi Grushcow and Rabbi Greenspan called each one of us by our Hebrew names, and we all joined hands in a circle. It was an amazing experience.
My welcome service was on my 64th birthday. What a day to have an Aliyah in front of family and friends as I was called to the Bima by my Hebrew names. Holding the Torah in arms, I could see the faces of family and friends and how proud they were of me.
One event that I did ﬁnd diﬃcult was not celebrating Christmas and Easter. Not because of me, but for my grandchildren and to explain this to them. My parents are in their late 80’s and do not know of my conversion and though I would have liked to tell them, I think it is better not to disturb them even though I am not sure how they will react.
I am proud to be a member of Temple and happy when I can volunteer. This is a wonderful community and a great lifestyle.