Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Welcome to the Tribe!" or "Rub a dub dub, Sara's in the tub... becoming a Jew!"

Today was a pretty big day. After many months working with Rabbi Morrison at Temple Israel in Boston (and a few short weeks with Rabbi Spilker here in Minnesota at Mount Zion), I was deemed ready to take the plunge -- literally -- and officially converted to Judaism.

The Rabbis Spilker and Adler and Cantor Spilker met with me beforehand as part of my beit din, the rabbinic panel, to serve as the official gateways into the tribe, as it were :) They questioned me about my intentions, sincerity, and knowledge of the religion and practices. After passing that first test, I had to go strip down (not joking!), including what ended up being a ridiculously long amount of time for removing nail polish (it just would not come off), I met Cantor Spilker in the mikveh, the ritual bath, for my dunk.

If you're struggling to picture this, envision old school baptism (it's where the practice came from) in a really pretty spa-like atmosphere, sans the Catholic guilt and crucifixes.

After dunking and saying a prayer and the sheheckiyanu, I was asked the declarations of faith -- including some funnily-phrased questions involving the involvement of children in Jewish education programs and becoming a member of a synagogue (something Jews by birth are notorious for not doing, or doing in a non-timely fashion :) ). After my third dunk everyone waiting out in the living room joined in a chorus of "Simon Tov u Mazel Tov" for me.

At the end of it, Rabbi Spilker said a blessing, we all said the Shema, and I read a passage from Ruth, the first convert. You might know it -- it's the one that begins with "Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge." (Ruth 1) Then the rabbis and cantor gave me some pretty candlesticks that we'll use for Shabbat on Friday. Yay!

It was really nice to have everyone there -- Eric (of course!), my mom and dad, Eric's mom Michelle, his dad Jim, and brother Doug.

After the formalities, we went to Mount Zion's gift shop and I got all Jew-ed up -- we bought a kiddush cup (for the wedding) a seder plate, a cookbook from the sisterhood at the synagogue, and Jim bought me a star of David necklace. And some Bazooka Joe from Israel :)

All of us plus Gary, Marni, Joe, Katie, Adam, Jill, and Isaiah, headed down to Figlio for a celebratory dinner. Yummm!!!! Sooooo good. I got Thai mussels, wood roasted mushroom pizza with goat cheese and scallions, red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, AND a profiterole. I also had some of their super good house-infused raspberry-lemon vodka. Delicious delicious delicious.

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