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.
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!”
One of the ministers, along with a few other friends, from my former church came to my conversion ceremony, sharing my joy as they joined the crowd who gathered with me that day. My ex-husband offered to help me start a business and he became my first client. Other family and friends were always there when I needed to talk.I received speaking engagements from all over the country.
I still struggled to get through the days, in large part because I hoped M and I would reconcile. It didn't seem likely, though, and everyone began to push me to move on. In my agony and confusion, I mistakenly took that to mean I should move into a new relationship. I had been seeing a man who cared deeply about me, and he managed to convince me that I would love him in time. “Marry me,” he said nearly every day. “I'll help you heal.” It didn't work out that way.
Countless times I’ve been asked the question, “If you could go back and do it all over again, would you make the same decision?” Would you still choose Judaism if you'd known all the loss and pain you'd have to endure?
While I understand my friends' curiosity, the question belongs in a world of fantasy, of science fiction. How can I possibly answer that question? That converting to a new religion was worth losing the only man I'd ever loved, a marriage of 30 years, friends, a church that had saved me when I was in an abusive relationship with fundamentalist Christianity? How absurd.
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