I can remember exactly where I was when I decided that yes, I was going to convert to Judaism. I was walking across a brick-paved courtyard in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City, getting ready to dive back into the shuk for another day’s exploration and wanton spending of filthy shekels.
I don’t actually remember any real thought process happening, just that between one step and the next, I realised what I was going to do. I felt vaguely elated and I probably smiled like an idiot, although that isn’t a remarkably unusual thing for me to do when I’m in Jerusalem.
The first time I was there, I went to this store called Tree of Life in the Old City, and bought a bunch of things including a tiny silver hamsa pendant, which I’m wearing right now. I wanted something to remind me of Israel, since I had always wanted to go there, and I was so affected by my trip, and the hamsa seems to be the one thing all Israelis can agree on. After I decided I was going to convert, I put the hamsa pendant on and I’ve hardly taken it off since. It serves as a tangible reminder of the commitment I’ve made with myself and G-d, and to the Nation of Israel, as well as a reminder of the physical place.
I know I’m still struggling with some aspects of my new life under that commitment, even as I’m finding more and more areas of congruence between my (pre-existing) values and Judaism itself. I actually almost wish I had some sort of just-so story to tie it up in a nice neat narrative bow (I’m fond of narratives, and everyone loves a good story with a happy ending), but I don’t. (Although I actually am adopted, as far as I know, there’s not a neatly-braided skein of narrative that gives me a cryptic Jewish ancestress or something, unlike the local Reform rabbi!) Which, I suppose, makes my story even less of a story and more inexplicable.
When I figure it out, I’ll post it here.