With the mikvah postponed until our schedules matched I had time to think and I made a bigger decision than to convert.
I decided to not finish my conversion.
So close to the finish line, so close to finally being the same.
Here’s the truth, the wedding suddenly was coming in under a year. And I started to think about all the changes that were expected of me as a wife. And suddenly, changing my last name to his AND changing my religion it was just too much at once. I just couldn’t do it.
I was embarrassed to be honest. I had sunk so much time, effort and emotion into the conversion to not go through with it.
Nothing changed when I decided not to go through with it. We still had a lot of love from both families. We still go to services. We still celebrate all the holidays. We lead Jewishly inspired lives. All that’s changed is when I go to the chuppah, I won’t be Jewish. And that’s ok. I’m going as myself. And that door doesn’t close. It’s not right now, but in 10 years it might be.
In truth, I like that we’re different. I like my traditions I bring with me, I like our tradition of breaking fast on Yom Kippur with an Italian feast to represent both sides. That’s our family. How boring our lives would be if we were the same.
The Rabbi working with me on my conversion said something to me day one of my journey that always stood out “if you get to the end and you don’t want to do it, that’s ok, you’ll have learned something new, and you’ll be a better person for it.” He reiterated that when I decided not to convert. Nobody was mad, nobody was disappoint. Rather they were happy I had come to this decision on my own and wasn’t being forced into converting.
Marriage doesn’t mean you’re giving up your identity, it means though that it does change. And for me, adding in a Jewish identity on top of everything else wasn’t something I was ok with.
But conversion (or non conversion) is a deeply personal experience. And I encourage those close to the Jewish partner never make assumptions or ask about converting to the non Jewish partner. Let the non Jewish partner ask questions and tell you if they’re converting. And never make the assumption that because you know, everyone in the family should know. Always remember that while for one half converting may be seen as the ultimate act of love and a happy occasion, the other half might be feeling betrayed and left out.