On my 48th birthday I converted to Judaism. Little by little, I broke the news to each of the seven ministers at my Baptist church. My senior pastor cried.
BY: Meri Blye Kramer
On my 48th birthday I converted to Judaism. Little by little, I broke the news to each of the seven ministers at my Baptist church. My senior pastor cried. When I announced my decision to my Sunday school class, most were so shocked that they left without speaking to me. My neighbor, who had never been remotely religious, told me I was going to hell. A caller on a large radio show called me a heretic and the host, in the middle of what was supposed to be a live, hour-long interview, hung up on me. One close family member told me she didn’t want to hear anything about my “new” life. Because half of my freelance writing career involved writing for Christian periodicals, I lost my career. One editor, for whom I frequently wrote, insinuated I had deceived the Christian community. Another close friend actually told me I'd invalidated Christianity itself, the entire religion, because I'd been raised a Christian and rejected it. What?
Then, three months after my conversion, my husband of nearly 30 years, whom I loved deeply (I'll call him M), left me.
For ten years I had listened to Jews-by-choice talk about their conversion experiences, saying that it was like “coming home” for them. For me, I was literally wrenched from every home I had ever known.
Most days I crawled out of bed, sat staring at my computer, then spent a good deal of the day in a fetal position on the floor. M came over every day, strung me along emotionally and later, when it was too late for a reconciliation, we sat sobbing on the telephone as he told me had made the biggest mistake of his life the day he left.
I was unable to support myself on my income alone. I prepared myself to submit a resume and go out on interviews, but then discovered that thousands of people from all over the country submitted resumes to a single employer via the internet. I hadn't applied for a job in 26 years. I didn't have the slightest idea how to even look for employment.
A close friend who is a medical doctor offered me anti-depressants. I refused because I wanted to deal with my situations with a clear mind (what was I thinking?!).
I looked for and found, however, a few bright spots. When I told an elderly friend about my conversion, I let her know that I understood her belief in Jesus would make my news difficult to hear. “I'll tell you what I believe,” she said with her typical spunk. “I believe in you.” A lifelong Baptist, she never once flinched in her support for and love of me. Another elderly Baptist friend said to me, “I have lots of Jewish friends! Now I'll have another one!”