Shalom Alechiem! It’s been a while!
I had hoped that this post would be compromised of some deep thoughts for the celebration of Shavout (Feast Of Weeks) and Matan Torah (The Giving Of The Torah) that occurred a few days ago, – after all it is traditional to read the book of Ruth on this holiday, and the main protagonist in that narrative is regarded as the first ever convert to Judaism, you’d think I’d have a lot to say – but alas, G-d had other plans.
Whilst I did do a lot of learning and a few sparks were lit inside my soul, I felt that I had few words and little time to churn out a post worthy of your time, and most things that I had to say, have already been said by others (and usually in a more eloquent manner); If you did want to do some late Shavout/Matan Torah learning, I’d recommend this series by Aleph Beta, and these videos by Rivka Malka Perlman here (this one is specifically about converts!) and here.
G-d willing, there is next year for me to write a post! In the meantime I’d like to update you all on the past few weeks.
Possible Jewish Ancestry: Soon after publishing my previous entry, I was flooded with love and messages of support from so many people (thank you ever so!!). Notably, my cousin – who happens to also be the family genealogist – let me know that there was a chance a 6th generation ancestor named Marie on my mother’s side was Jewish, because of her surname’s etymology and her region of origin.
Unfortunately, we can only speculate her ethnicity and religion based on these things, as her birth certificate and other records are yet to be unearthed. Our family would also not be considered halachically Jewish (Jewish according to Jewish law), as Marie’s only child was a male and Jewishness is passed through the maternal line.
Nonetheless, it would still be incredible to find I had some Jewish ancestry, because it might further explain why I feel such a pull towards this nation and it’s faith; Someone once told me that there is a kabbalah surrounding converts and how they often have Jewish ancestors – something about a soul connection and wanting to ‘return home’. I love that.
• If you have any information regarding a Marie Schulter (possible name variations include Sluter / Slater / Schlüchter / Schluechter) from Holstein or Sarlhusen, who immigrated to Australia from Hamburg via Liverpool in the 1860s – please get in touch!
Attending Shul: Most excitingly however, is that I’ve been in touch with a local Modern Orthodox Rabbi regarding attending synagogue. For those that don’t know, attending most synagogues is not like attending most churches. There is a more serious security protocol and it’s normal to let staff know that you will be attending in advance. Whilst we have had a few email exchanges, I’m still waiting for the final “yes”. He is aware of my desire to convert, but also knows that it’s unrealistic for me to begin that process until early next year (and as is typical, he of course discouraged me from converting, with a lovely email discussing how I can be a righteous person and have a share in Olam Ha-Ba without being Jewish – I’m stubborn so I’m currently undeterred).
Noachide Laws: As I have to wait until next year until I’m able to start the process towards formally converting, it’s recommended by most Rabbis that I observe the 7 Noachide laws in the mean time. In Jewish thought, the entire Torah as given to Moshe (Moses) is believed to be truth for all humanity, but as G-d made His covenant with the Jewish people, only they are obliged to follow all of it’s 613 mitzvot (commandments). As every human being is believed to be descended from Noach (Noah) and each of us is called to live righteously, the ancient Rabbis exegetically derived 7 laws (6 given to Adam & Chavah, and 1 given to Noach) for all of humanity to follow when G-d made his covenant with Noach and subsequently, his descendants – us (Genesis 9). Adding or taking commandments is prohibited, meaning it’s forbidden for a Noachide to practise the 613 mitzvot as obligation.
Obviously I’m still learning how to study Torah, keep kosher, dress tznius and so forth, but my soul does sting when I remember that I can’t fully observe Shabbat or affix a muzuzah to my door just yet.
I suppose that’s G-d’s way of teaching me persistence, or maybe even that this is meant to be.