For several reasons the subject of Judaism and conversion (specifically mine) has come up a lot lately. I’ve been grilled by people of all creeds about why I converted. The questions from agnostics/atheists/any non-Jewish religion are usually much less aggressive, if you will. The questions from Jewish people are more… pushy, I guess, but the sentiment behind it is, as far as I can tell, more shock than anything: “Why would you want to convert?” And I can understand that. I think a lot of people look back on their religious education/life from childhood and are glad they are now grownups.
I enrolled in a course through a consortium of synagogues in DC. There was a curriculum and I had to purchase a mountain of books (and read them). Even enrolling in the class was a feat in itself because I had to find a rabbi who had time to meet with me as my sponsor, and it took some time for me to find one. There was a list of “activities” outside of class that I was required to do (like visit the Holocaust Museum and go to a Jewish bookstore). I attended a year of weekly classes where I learned about Jewish history, prayer, family life, life cycle events, holidays. We also had Hebrew lessons every week. Then at the end of it I had to go in front of the Beit Din – a panel of rabbis – for an oral exam and then I dunked in the mikveh.
I’m not trying to prove anything here… I just wanted to show those of you who may be interested what it entailed. It was a major accomplishment that I am still proud of. I still have a whole shelf dedicated to all my books. And here are a couple of pictures of the books and my notebook from the class.