The Conversion Episode, 2023
Ep. 363: Celebrating Shavuot by honoring all of our Jewish journeys
Each year for Shavuot, we air our annual Conversion Episode, in which we share stories of people finding their way to Judaism. This year, inspired by our showrunner Courtney Hazlett’s Tablet article, “Don’t Call Me a Convert,” we’re focusing on the Jewish journeys we’re all on. Plus, at the end of the episode, we reveal our new co-host!
But first: We’re talking about interfaith relationships, and what we can learn from them, with Dr. Keren McGinity, interfaith specialist at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and a research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She consults with Jewish clergy and congregations and has written two books about intermarriage: Still Jewish: A History of Women & Intermarriage in America and Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood.
Next we talk with Vicki Messler, who works at a Jewish day school, helps with programming at her local JCC, and is raising a Jewish family, all while not being halachically Jewish herself. She tells us why she’s committed to creating Jewish community, and about her own faith journey.
Then we hear a candid conversation between our own Liel Leibovitz and his wife, Lisa Ann Sandell, which was excerpted from their appearance on Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin’s 18Forty podcast. Liel and Lisa, who are both Jewish, discuss what happened when Liel started living a more observant life about a decade ago, keeping kosher and praying regularly, and taking on a host of other practices that Lisa hadn’t necessarily signed on for as his spouse. Their honest and intimate discussion reveals how we’re all evolving in our Jewish practice, and how those changes play out within ourselves, our families, and our communities.
Finally, we call up the listener who wrote to us asking, as an “aspiring Jew” going through the conversion process, whether she would ever feel Jewish enough. Spoiler alert: We’re all Jewish enough.
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