I have lost a couple of friends over my conversion to Judaism.
At least, it seems to be the reason after I mentioned in passing that my husband and I were going to start conversion classes. The next thing I know, none of my repeated phone calls get returned and they are no longer my friends on Facebook. No other reason could possibly make sense, because we hadn’t had a fight or falling out.
The other most common reaction when people learn I’m converting to Judaism is to invite me to a Christian bible study. Now, this reaction may be more common here in the Bible Belt, but it still strikes me as odd.
And so, my conversion hasn’t been something that I have publicly discussed with many family members or friends outside of my local area too often.
I don’t want others, particularly my family, to feel that I’m rejecting them as well as the religion in which I was raised. I have enormous respect for my parents and extended family. Just as I respect their right to choose a religion which best suits them, I hope that they will see in time that Judaism suits me and my nuclear family best.
Another reason that I haven’t delved deeper into the conversion talk with my parents is that my mother has been valiantly fighting cancer since this spring. It is the second time that she has been diagnosed in about a year. It is in both of her lungs and one leg, so I feel that she has enough on her plate to worry about, besides me rejecting Jesus.
My parents knew that we had been attending conversion classes since January at a Reform synagogue. My Dad has a Facebook profile, so he could have noticed a variety of Jewish topics go across my profile page, but we have never discussed it. My mother and I had a brief telephone conversation back in January when I mentioned that we were starting the classes and looking for a spiritual home before my girls got too old. I wanted a spiritual life to be part of their childhood memories. I told her that I appreciated that I had grown up in a spiritual home and I wanted one for my girls.
But then my rabbi outed me on Facebook. Mind you, I know it wasn’t intentional. We had our first one-to-one conversation about my reasons for conversion and my religious back story the other week, so I mentioned my first blog post on Kveller. It was my way of saying, “They like me, they really like me,” to quote Sally Field upon winning an Oscar. I felt validated that my unanswered conversion questions struck a chord enough to elicit a few responses. My rabbi promised to look up my blog post after I’d left and I asked her not to laugh at anything I’d written. She liked it enough to post it to her personal profile and tag me in the post, which then put it on my profile, which is how I got outed.
After her post sat on my profile page for a while, the thing that I noticed was not a single person commented on it apart from friends I’ve met at synagogue. I was both proud that it was finally out in the open, but also a bit saddened that no one thought it merited a reply. Either way, it was a huge relief to have the topic aired so publicly. I felt the same way when I was early in my pregnancies and had only told a few people, but was waiting to tell everyone else.
The other night, after Mom and I had talked about her pending treatment options, she mentioned that she needed to go and eat a hot dog, since she hadn’t had any dinner yet. I said she might want to consider going vegetarian for health reasons (one thing I had done) and her sweet reply was, “But, it’s kosher!” which made me think for a split second that maybe Dad had paid attention to those Jewish topics floating across my profile page and just maybe, we were going to be okay.