Today is the day.
There have been many steps in my journey and now I feel I am ready to embrace a lifelong and forever commitment to Judaism. It is extra meaningful to me that this moment has arrived just a few weeks before Rosh Hashana. I hope and pray this will be a sweet New Year for me as well.
As part of my requirements for appearing before the Beit Din, I was asked to write a spiritual autobiography. I realized that this is actually very difficult, to put my experiences of changing my faith into words.
Anyway I looked back on the days and events, and tried to reflect on the spiritual side of my life. I was born and raised in Manila in the Philippines to a religious Catholic family. My 2 siblings and I were raised in a G-d fearing home with high moral standards by loving parents.
My parents sent me to Catholic schools, known for for their high quality academic excellence. After high school I attended university and in 2002 I graduated with a degree in Physiotherapy.
After university I felt a desire to leave home for “greener pastures” and to broaden my horizons. But to do this I would have to leave my family and friends behind which I knew wouldn’t be easy. However the opportunity presented itself and in 2004 I immigrated to Canada; in 2011 I became a Canadian citizen.
In my early years in Canada I spent the greater part of my working time with Jewish families and sometimes went with them to the synagogue. I ate Matzah at the Passover Seder and lit candles with them and learned how to keep the laws of Kashrut in their homes. I feel I adapted quickly to their way of life. I heard more about the Holocaust – how 6 million Jews perished, innocent souls, murdered by Hitler, so heartbreaking to even think about. I made close relationships in the Jewish community who became almost like my family and I thought the Jewish things they did were cool. I wanted to be like everyone else.
I have been lucky to experience even more of Judaism, its customs and traditions in 6 years dating and now engaged to my longtime friend, my soul-mate, my fiancé Tal. I am happy to have been welcomed into his family. He is not a very observant kind of Jew but still he has a strong faith in his heritage and together we want to build our life and Jewish home together and to raise Jewish children.
About a year ago, I started the journey to convert to Judaism. With love and respect for my family back in Manila I had serious discussions with them about my plan of converting to the Jewish faith. I made it clear that it’s my own personal choice and desire to convert. Thankfully my family has given me their blessings and that I should continue and that doing what makes me happy will make them happy as well. There was no emotional pressure and I was able to assure my family of my continuous love and that I will always be their child and loving family member.
Yes! Converting to Judaism is a process requiring a lot of sincerity and commitment. Together with my fiancé (Tal), we spent months learning about Jewish culture, the High Holy days, life cycle, beliefs, history, even learning to read Hebrew and a lot more. With the guidance of my sponsoring Rabbi, Rabbi Howard Morrison, I was guided to make my own personal connection to G-d through studying the weekly Torah portion, and the prayers during the services Friday night and Sabbath morning at the Beth Emeth synagogue.
While attending my Judaism classes and weekly Friday night and Sabbath morning services and meeting one on one with Rabbi Morrison once or twice a month for almost a year at the Beth Emeth synagogue, I felt myself growing intellectually, socially and of course spiritually. I find the Beth Emeth synagogue to be very accommodating, and the members are friendly. Knowing it is the right choice for my fiancé, our relationship and our lifestyle I can feel the acceptance. The congregation appeals to me in its endeavor to incorporate traditional elements of Jewish practice within modern society and its emphasis on being inclusive and accepting of all people.
Incorporating what I have learned I am doing my best putting the Mitzvot into practice in my daily life: such as attending synagogue services on the Sabbath and High Holy Days, having Friday night dinner with my fiance’s family, helping to prepare Sabbath meals, lighting Sabbath candles and saying the blessing, hearing Kiddush made over wine, keeping the laws of Kashrut, keeping a Kosher kitchen with separate sets of dishes and putting up Mezuzahs on the door posts.
I choose Ruth Miriam as my Hebrew name, partly owing to the initials R.M. being close to my english name Remy which is nice. But mainly because I am greatly inspired by the story of Ruth who chose convert to Judaism, and by Miriam who helped save her baby brother Moses from Pharoah’s evil decree.
I can tell you that the process of conversion has been a warm, meaningful, spiritual and blissful experience. I am looking forward to Wednesday, September 10, 2014, the 15th of Elul when I can finally call and shout out: Today is the day! I officially become Jewish!
I will be thrilled to be a member of the Jewish people, proud to stand with Israel, and happy that the conversion has happened! Baruch HaShem!
It certainly takes a great deal of courage to step into a world unlike the one you have always known, especially when the path confronts you with challenging choices. To have that kind of clarity, determination and spirit requires a deep connection with your inner faith and the valiance to take that first step.
Words on a Limb wishes Remelie much happiness, peace and prosperity as you continue on this blissful journey.