My Hebrew name is Miriam Ora Tikvah bat Avraham y Sarah. Ora means ‘light’ in Hebrew and I deliberately chose this name because I associate Judaism with light, specifically the light that came when I began the conversion process. I don’t exaggerate when I say that Judaism transformed my life. Though my depression was pretty well handled when I was 24, I was still having frequent crying fits and didn’t see much hope in my future. I’m now 30 and can say that I’ve come so far. I’ve traveled to several countries, took several risks like teaching small children and letting strangers read my writing, and, most significantly, my world and community has expanded tenfold.
This isn’t to say that everything is perfect. As I lit tonight’s candles, I was very much aware that I am lighting them by myself, with only the dogs as my company. Judaism is very much about community and family and yet I find myself in this same place every holiday. It makes me sadder than I care to admit because it just feels like something is missing if I’m not with someone else. Still, I have hope and that is all I can ask for right now.