Why I choose to be Jewish...

[18 years after a "conversion" to Judaism by a rabbi serving a Conservative synagogue, I confronted the knowledge that the conversion had not been kosher. I chose to persue an Orthodox conversion. Sometimes people asked me why I bothered...]

Why do I want to be Jewish? Right now, if I chose, I could declare myself halachically free of all the mitzvot beyond the 7 Noachide laws. I could eat anything, have no restrictions on my time, dress and act however I pleased, not pay synagogue dues or pay for Hebrew school, not keep two sets of dishes, and on and on. I could walk away but I would find myself stranded in a world full of questions for which I would have no answers. I would have no standard by which to judge my actions. I would be walking away from the awareness that every moment and every action can be holy.

For 18 years I have travelled life with the Jewish people, albeit (it has turned out) as a stowaway. For me to walk away now would be as inconceivable as ripping off my right arm. I have come to love the Creator, the G-d of Israel. I have grown to love His chosen people as I love my family. And I have learned that Torah is truth that can only be truly understood when it is lived. To walk away would be to abandon hope of ever really participating in tikkun olam. To walk away would be a denial of everything I hold dear.

Still it is not easy. Admitting that I was not ever really Jewish is almost like experiencing a death. There is shock, and fear and pain, and the realization that something in life has been shattered and can never be fully restored. I feel alone with a great loss, afraid and confused.

What does it feel like
To have your soul ripped out
from within you?
Cast aside, as if it meant nothing.
How does it feel
To have no identity,
Belonging neither here,
Nor there.
I was a stranger among you,
But I did not know it.
I was a stranger among you,
But you were my brothers and sisters
I thought --
I was as one of you.
But I am cast out.
And I feel alone,
Like a child shivering in the dark,
Unable to find her family,
Not knowing if she abandoned
or was abandoned.
There is nothing here for me.
The world here is dark and cold and uninviting.
I cannot find hope here.
You are my family.
Your G-d is my G-d.
Teach me the path that I must go,
So that I may find you and return.
How does it feel here?
It feels like tears.