I know I’m behind in blogging. A busy schedule and a summer cold got the best of my writing schedule. But I’m back!!
One of my favorite aspects of the rabbinate is bringing new people into Judaism. Working with people who are on a journey of discovery and, with many of them, helping them find their place among the Jewish people. I love being there through the process through which an individual realizes that they are ready for conversion. At their moment of relief upon finishing the Beit Din (ritual court–a panel of educated Jews, usually clergy, who officially recognize a conversion candidate’s readiness to enter the covenant of Judaism). At the holy time of immersion in the mikveh. At the sacred second that they embrace the Torah scroll and receive their Hebrew name and officially become a member of the Jewish people. I love it. It brings me so much meaning.
Right now, several individuals in the community I just left are finishing that process and are in the midst of becoming Jews–talking with the beit din, visiting the mikveh, and next week they will have their official ceremony together. I am so proud of them and so honored to have been there for the start of their journeys. I’ll watch their ceremony via technology–but I’m sad that I’m not there in person. But my personal emotion of the moment is just as evocative as if I were. The hugs I’ll give them may be virtual, but they’re just as real.
And thinking of the end of their journeys brings me back to the very first moment that each of these individuals started their journeys. For some of them, I remember the first time they came to services. But mostly I remember the first time they sat in my office, to have a conversation, to begin the exploration, to start themselves on this path towards becoming Jewish. Even those folks that didn’t finish the path with the choice to become Jewish–even that exploration is a holy journey.
I’m a little bit awed by the trust of those moments. The trust that they needed to have in me, to guide them and to hear their story and to accept them. The trust that I had in each of them to believe their intention and to help them to enter the process. The trust of that first step. For all of us.
I love helping someone take that step, as much as I love watching them take that final step. In whatever journeys I take in my own life, I hope that I am blessed with such trust along each step. And I look forward to watching each step that these new Jews take once they step out of the mikveh and off of the bimah. I’ve been lucky enough to be there for so many along the steps getting there and the steps after that. I am so thankful for their trust. And so glad that I trusted them to take those steps along the journey.