For anyone who chooses to read this blog (close friend, distant stranger, or anyone in between) I think a little information about myself and my journey is in order. For as long as I can remember I have been someone of faith, although unaffiliated. I was baptized Catholic because the wonderful woman who cared for me while my parents were at work was worried about my soul. I tried to and for a while believed I was Catholic, but it truly never fit. I am not sure why or how or when I learned of Judaism, coming from communist Cuba I had never even heard the term. However, at some point some part of me knew exactly where I belonged.
It was neither an easy nor a fast process; I started thinking and reading about conversion many times before I took any real steps. When I started college I felt really decided, but still I put it off. It wasn’t until second year of law school that I contacted a rabbi, suddenly feeling that if I kept putting it off I would never know enough to raise a Jewish family. A quick Google search for ‘conversion rabbis in Miami’ yielded several results, but only one immediately made me feel comfortable, a female rabbi who studied literature and women studies would be a perfect fit for me and my journey, I thought. I sent her an e-mail and we met at Starbucks, she was a great listener whose eyes widened with intense curiosity, she was warm and welcoming and I finally felt like what I had long longed for was a possibility. She invited me to come to Saturday morning Minyan and I nervously accepted. I arrived early (something I rarely manage to do now) and sat down, every aspect of my surroundings felt foreign, yet somehow like home. Before services began I met another young Cuban girl who was in the process, she was excited to meet and helped me follow along. I don’t think I had ever heard a word of Hebrew, but during services I felt so alive, so happy, so comfortable it was really as if my soul had been returned to its home; like everything else in my journey it was unexplainable, but right. I still feel that way every single Saturday.
My decision came just in time, second year of law school I met a frantic young boy with questionable social skills I quickly fell in love with. He was witty and handsome, but completely unaware and utterly focused on whatever book was before him; by second year I approached law school with a certain nonchalance he did not share. We were both assigned to the same project in Family Law, our time working together was perfectly misspent as I tried to get to know him and he continuously tried to make me laugh. It took some time, but eventually he took the very forward step of tricking me into spending time together. We spent an entire day together, not preparing for our upcoming Family Law final. Although it was neither an easy nor a fast process, by third year we were dating.
I quickly learned he was Jewish (although he still believes I knew from first sight), but he struggled. My choice to convert seemed unwelcome as he believed it to be for the wrong reasons. Initially it wasn’t easy for us, as I emerged myself in my journey I felt joyous and fulfilled while he did not want to be a part of it. However, eventually he understood where I was coming from, my soul knew what it wanted and it was unrelated to our relationship. We began to observe Shabbat together, then he started to come with me to Minyan, then we became members of the temple, and through this process we both have learned so much; my journey has definitely brought us closer. Our families from different backgrounds get along surprisingly well, it is almost seamless, and I can see our Jewban family develop. I have much to learn still, but I know that although they may not be part of a typical Jewish family my children will be raised in a Jewish home.