Identity

Five Years Later

On this day, five years ago, I entered the small community mikvah at Tiferet Israel. When I came out, I was officially a Jew. It seems like a lifetime ago.

Five years isn’t a long time really, but I feel like I’ve been Jewish for most of my life. Maybe that’s because I’m so entrenched in the community: I work at my synagogue, teach on Sundays, sit on the ADL regional board, have been the recipient of Jewish fellowships, traveled to Israel several times, am involved with other Jewish organizations, and generally use my Judaism as a template for what I do in my life. I’ve also had spiritual crises left and right, which is pretty par for the course with me. But even when I’m questioning my decision to convert, I never regret sending that first email, which says a lot about how much I love Judaism and being in this community, no matter what.

Temple is my home away from home, spiritually and physically. I know this is where I belong, even if I feel like an outsider at times. The JewV’Nation retreat has definitely empowered me to be more vocal about my right to be heard and I know I have to be proactive about taking up the space I deserve in this community, even if it’s difficult and disheartening.

Someday I hope to be under a chuppah, beginning a new chapter of my Jewish journey. I dream of reading a PJ Library book to my child(ren) and teaching them how important it is that they carry on the traditions, the Jewish ones and the Hispanic/Filipino ones. I feel so much pride when I hear that one of my former students has completed their b’nei mitzvah and I can’t wait until one of those kids is mine. I hope for all of this and much more, but for now I’m content teaching fourth graders the magic of Judaism and, hopefully, passing on my love for this community.

Sweet mother I’m coming home
Now I know I’m not alone
Cause I’ve been far
Now I’m close
Sweet mother I’m coming home

“Song For The Divine Mother Of The Universe,” Ben Lee

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