Many people ask me why I decided to convert to Judaism especially when I was raised by atheist parents in Chicago, Illinois – but when I tell them about Jacob, they tend to understand. He is the kindest most sincerest of men – soft-spoken, peaceful – and very much in love with me. Although we rode the same bus every morning for three years, because we worked in the same area of town, it took him the full time to ever begin talking to me at all. I’ll never forget his first uncertain words to me. He said. “Miss, for a long time I have struggled to say hello to you, but with each passing day it becomes clearer that someday I may not have the opportunity. So before I miss out – hello, my name is Jacob. What’s your name?”
Our first date was a romantic candlelit dinner in a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant – he knew the owners, who gave us each a glass of wine on the house. Afterwards he walked me home, very respectfully kissed me on the cheek, and told me that he would like to see me again – other than on the bus that is. I agreed instantly, and that was the end of my old life.
Although my parents were non-religious, they never held me back from exploring religion and faith. They told me it was best to keep an open mind, and if anything stood against reason, to evaluate it thoroughly and then decide if it were true. As a result, I never really attached myself to any collectivized faith in my younger years – but I always wondered what it would be like to believe that there was something greater than myself. To trust in higher being who existed to direct and guide me through this strange thing we call life.
Jacob, as you might already know, is Jewish. He’s from a large family who observes many of the traditions of the faith, albeit slightly relaxed. The more time I spent with them, the more I realized the beauty of their culture and their faith – and the more I fell in love with Jacob. As it would turn out, he felt the same way about me.
Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews happens often nowadays, although it’s still not looked on highly, but Jacob never asked me to convert – he told me loved me deeply and would marry me no matter what I believed – but part of me knew that this was a decision I had been coming to anyways. I really respected and loved my own family, but never before in my life had I felt so connected and cherished. I felt like by taking Judaism as my own, I could truly become a daughter in this extraordinary family, and Jacob and I could have a complete life together, sharing the same love and the same values.
We had a traditional Jewish wedding in a small venue in Chicago. A rabbi performed the ceremony beneath a beautiful Chuppah Jacob’s Uncle had built for us from Cedar, covered with a heirloom cloth which had been his mother’s. My parents were there, confused by my decision, but they couldn’t help liking Jacob. So in the end they were immensely happy for me. What more could parents want for their daughter than for her to be deliriously happy?
I am proud of my faith, proud that I get to share this life with this extraordinary man, and together we will raise our children to love and respect their heritage, a heritage I can now call my own.