~Friday, October 4, 2013


It's a little annoying how accurate Sex and the City was in regards to converting to Judaism. If my name wasn't already Sarah, it would be Charlotte to reflect all the times I've been called that.

"You're converting? Oh, you're Charlotte!"

Eye roll.

But in preparation for my classes, I did re-watch all of the Charlotte conversion episodes. I made Abraham promise I could shout at him "I GAVE UP CHRIST FOR YOU!" just one time while he's watching a Mets game.


Even though Lawyered's wife just finished her Intro to Judaism class at a local synagogue, I did not follow in her footsteps. For a while we talked about taking the class together and going through the process together, but she ultimately decided to go at it alone. Changing religions is deeply personal, and I think she wanted to keep it private between her and her husband.

She had ties to the synagogue she used; I did not. Instead I shopped for conversion classes like I shopped for shoes: online. I checked out most of the local reform and conservative synagogues' websites. I read their mission statements and about their Intro to Judaism classes. I listened to myself during the process. If I got a mixed feeling at any time, I would mark the synagogue off my list.

The class that felt right to me was the class at the local Jewish community center. It was non-denominational, so I felt like I would receive the most objective education instead of an education guided by a particular synagogue's beliefs.

But it was April and the class didn't start until August. Abraham and I didn't know what was involved in conversion. We didn't know how long it would take and what would be required. A class for sure. But what about counseling with a rabbi? Lawyered's wife had a write a God statement that detailed her beliefs about God. And then there's the mikvah, which is exactly like a Jewish baptism, but you have to be butt-ass naked in front of other people, like your rabbi with whom you spent all those hours talking about God.

We didn't feel comfortable setting a wedding date until we knew more about conversion. So I called up the woman in charge of the class and told her I had lots of questions and asked if we could schedule a meeting. So we did, on a Sunday morning in June.

Abraham and I got up early, and we dressed in business casual attire. We drove 30 minutes across town to meet her. At the Jewish community center we were told by the receptionist that the woman wasn't here yet. "Jewish Standard Time," Abraham nervously laughed.

We took a seat and watched men in basketball jerseys enter and leave the gym. I played on my phone until the battery drained. After more than a half hour of waiting, I walked back to the receptionist.

"Is she here yet?"

The receptionist pressed some buttons. "She still isn't in. Let me call her." She pressed some more buttons, this time on the phone. After speaking with her, she handed the receiver to me.

The woman forgot about the meeting, she told me. She told me to take a tour of the facility. She receptionist needed her phone back, so we hung up. None of my questions were answered. We were no closer to setting a wedding date.

"Just like Sex and the City!" my friends exclaimed. "When Charlotte knocks on the synagogue door and announces her intention of converting and the rabbi slams the door in her face!"

Abraham's father also thought this was intentional. "They make it hard for you so they know you are serious."

"There's hard. And then there's being malicious," I angrily shot back. "I want no part of any religion that would go out of its way to be rude to someone intentionally."

I did not like having the door slammed in my face. I did not like wasting hours of my Sunday morning sitting in this woman's place of employment while she was at home in sweat pants. It was too cold to be calculated, I think. I think she genuinely forgot. She sent me an email the following day apologizing to me.

But, just in case I was wrong, I never responded to her.


  1. I had no idea there was such a thing as a non-denominational Jew. It seems weird for a Catholic to convert to Judaism after all we were taught as Catholics that Jews got it wrong. I think all religion has a part of it wrong anyway so I don't think it matters which one you pick. Good luck.

  2. I don't think there are non-denominational Jews. I think just the class is non-denominational. We'll eventually have to choose Reform or Conservative.

  3. Is conservative more along the lines of Orthodox Jews, or is that a more traditional type?

    I get the whole "let's see if she is serious" game, but it seems so frustrating. I would also believe that she intentionally forgot, especially after what Abraham's father said.

    How many classes do you have to take?

  4. I've heard crazy stories about how hard it is to convert. Makes me (almost) glad I was born into it. Even though I'm an "a la carte" Jew, or Jew...ish as some call it.

  5. is it weird that i know my favorite rabbi in columbia is with the reform synagogue? :)

  6. Thank you for sharing your new journey. I have been so interested in all of this. My ex was looking into converting, but never did it. It is indeed a huge decision and commitment. I applaud you and I can't wait to read more.

  7. i hope you will eventually feel it in your heart and feel welcomed. xo

  8. Hey, I'd take the new life any day over party girl central.

  9. oops, i meant for that comment to go to the more recent one.