A few weeks ago, my fiancé Ian and I started the Union of Reform Judaism’s Intro to Judaism class. The URJ recommends that the partner of the convert take the class as well, so this is a great opportunity for me to refresh my rusty Jewish Knowledge. Weeks One and Two have really reminded me of all the things I forgot from my 13 years of Jewish education. Wise Academy, my Jewish Day School, would have been very disappointed in me if it still existed. It’s funny the things that I did hold on to though. I can discuss my Torah portion for days (shout out to the unfortunate souls that also had Tazria; if anyone wants to discuss Jewish feelings on leprosy, I am your girl). But going to the classes also reminds me of all these cultural traditions I grew up with that Ian didn’t.
I have many fond memories of my 12 years of Sunday school. To Ian, it’s shocking that we do religious education for that long; he only went to religious school through fourth grade. One of the many things that is so amazing about going to religious school for that long is that we got the chance to connect with other Jewish people. My sisters and I went to schools where we were one of only a couple Jewish Students, but during my time at Jewish Day School, of course, it was all Jews all the time. I am having these same kinds of feelings about all of the amazing people we have met during our conversion classes. It’s nice to be surrounded by all of these people who are excited about Judaism. It makes me excited and it makes me want to practice more.
We’ve also started going to the Saviv Services at Temple Emanu-El, which are events aimed at 20- and 30-something Jews. We haven’t missed once since we started going. There have only been three, but three services is a lot, at least for us. I dare say we have become regulars at temple.) This week we brought a few friends with us, as we always do. Alissa joined us as usual; she was late and walked in as we all turned to greet the Sabbath Bride, it was quite an entrance. Emma, my fellow Tablet intern, joined us, as well as my youngest sister Frankie, who doesn’t like my temple because it’s not as liberal as hers. She strongly feels that Ian and I should go to her temple, but I don’t want to go Brooklyn. After services we went out to eat with a bunch of people we had met there, a welcome return to Jewish community and socializing. It made me and Ian realize that we may want to do sabbath meals more often.
Going to these classes has inspired us to become more active participants in our Judaism. Conversion in Reform Judaism takes place over one Jewish calendar year, so the convert experiences a full year of Jewish traditions. We are still very early in the process but are both excited about taking this journey together.
Alexandra Pucciarelli is an editorial intern at Tablet.