It really happened because of a wedding invitation. It was beautiful. With their Hebrew names printed below their English ones and the script of Ani L’Dodi, v’Dodi Li on the top.
I realized something in that. When J and I got married, I’d be taking that opportunity away from him. His childhood rabbi wouldn’t be able to perform the service, he’d never have his Hebrew name on his wedding invitation. And it was because of me.
Since we had already found our Jewish community, it wasn’t hard to find a Rabbi willing to work with me on conversion. Both Rabbis at the synagogue were lovely and I started studying. I decided to convert because I felt in my soul this was what I was meant to. G-d had somehow used faith as a relationship test. We had survived that and so we were ready for the next step.
Here’s what I loved about my conversion process:
-learning about J’s cultural history
-Learning about the faith
-Learning how to incorporate those things into our lives
-Spending time with J when we were at the Rabbi’s office talking and learning.
-Becoming a part of the community.
There were things I didn’t love…or even like. My parents questioning why all the time and not understanding my reasons. Not being able to talk to them about the process and what I was doing. It had gotten out amongst both families and family friends and the whispers behind my back. All these people were so caring to my face and would instill fear into my parents about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do if I went through with it. J even had his problems. Despite my objections, he did believe that somewhere in me I was doing it for him. And he wasn’t ok with the wedge it was creating, because he’d always be the reason for the wedge.
I didn’t care. This was for me.
It took 2 years of study and learning. But I was finally ready for the mikvah. I picked my name, Arella Miriam, my Nana’s name is Rella, my grandma’s name is Mary. Perfect combo. I scheduled my date. My friends were excited for me, I’d be able to finish before the Cantor retired and my friend Rabbi left. It was really meant to be.
And then I got sent on a shoot and had to cancel. Suddenly the whole thing was up in the air. The mikvah schedule was packed…I suddenly had A LOT of time to think about everything.