February 21, 2019
“We might have to get a doubt-conversion .” My Mom announced as I kicked off my fake Uggs and put my backpack down from my long day of Jewish Day School.
“What do you mean?” I asked walking into the kitchen.
“Well, if I can’t find out who my birth-mom is… We don’t really know if I am Jewish which means you might not be technically Jewish and we will all need to perform a doubt-conversion.” My mom was on a mission. See, my mom is adopted and although her adoption was through Jewish Family Services, she never received any details.
My mom wanted to be 100% sure we were Jewish. We always thought we were. If I’m being honest, there was not a doubt in my mind that we weren’t Jewish. But with us girls getting older, a future-son-in-law and prospects of grandkids in the picture, my mom wanted to be more than certain.
“What if I don’t want to be Jewish?” I responded. My mom shot me a baffled look. I was fifteen years old and fed up with my Jewish Day School. I was doing terribly in my Hebrew class, my Jewish Studies bored me, my teachers misunderstood me and I was sent to the principle’s office daily for wearing skirts that weren’t below the knee.
Over the next few weeks, I gave this some serious thought. I was raised in a Jewish Orthodox household. Everyone I knew was Jewish. Everywhere I went was Kosher. Even our gym was the Jewish Community Center. It was my entire life, but what if it didn’t have to be? What if I had the chance to change this part of who I was? What if, instead of struggling with who I was and what it all meant, I could start over?
A month later, we found out we were 100% Jewish and I thank God every day that I am. I look back on my fifteen year old self and laugh. Of course I love being Jewish! Don’t get me wrong, I struggled in high school with my religion. I struggled with not feeling the same connection towards Jewish Orthodoxy as my family did. I struggled with constantly hearing from others that “I was not like my sisters” or “I was the black sheep of the family.” The struggle was definitely real. But after years of searching and growing, I have left the hardships behind me and have allowed myself to fall deeply in love with my heritage. And you know what? I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I love my Jewish legacy. I love all the traditions that my Judaism has brought me. I love the connection that I feel with someone when they say “Hey, I am Jewish too!” I feel at peace as I watch Robert light our Chanukah Candles. I feel supported when I walk into Break the Fast after Yom Kippur and I feel encouraged by the incredible Jewish Communities that has been so welcoming and so loving in every city I have lived in.
To all those people who are battling with who they are, I just want you to know you are not alone. Take a deep breath and give yourself time. You will figure it out. Just give it time.