#5. When I decided to convert, determining what "flavor" of Jew I wanted to be was an integral part of my decision-making process. So, I concurrently chose a denomination, a rabbi with whom to convert, and a synagogue community of which I wanted to be a part. I made it clear to the Rabbi that I wanted to be a part of the TBA Conservative Jewish community once I converted. In my conversion classes, he was clear with everyone that he knew not everybody present was planning to join, and that it was not a requirement for taking the class, but that he hoped they would ultimately join TBA or another synagogue. The way I did it made sense to me...making all parts of the decision at the same time. It didn't even occur to me to separate the different pieces - rabbi, congregation, denomination - from each other! I joined TBA the day after my mikveh/Beit Din.
It's funny, but when I started the conversion process, I had little thought of joining a synagogue. I didn't even think it was a possibility, or something I should do. I thought I should convert, and had my eye on the "prize." During the Intro class I attended, I went to a couple of different synagogues, met some rabbis, and saw how each did things differently. But I found myself going back to the same synagogue over and over, as things became more comfortable for me, and I began to recognize more people there, people who would stop and say hello. It was the same synagogue as my rabbi.
During my year-plus of study, I figured out that I needed to have a Jewish community, and that I needed to be where I had respect for the rabbis and felt warm and welcome when I walked in. So, within a few months of my conversion, I joined Temple Sinai.
Yes, I did join the synagogue. I was not pressured to at all, but I decided to join simultaneously with my Beit Din/Mikvah day. It turned into kind of a nice ritual. I did the "ceremony" part in the morning, then went to the synagogue and gave them a check in the afternoon. Felt like I was completing the circle of fully joining the community.
Yes, at the time I didn't know of any other entry point into Judaism but to get connected to my local synagogue. I knew nothing about how to contact a Rabbi outside of a synagogue setting. We had no Jewish relatives, so it made sense to get connected to our local Jewish community for support and learning.
I joined after my conversion was completed. I didn't think it made sense to be a member if I wasn't a "full" Jew. After converting, I wanted to be part of a community. The day of my mikvah, I received an email from the membership director, inviting me to become a member. I love being a member at Emanuel. What a wonderful community.
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