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Converting to Marry Her

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/ask_your_yenta/item/converting_to_marry_her_20100606

Dear Yenta,

I am a 26 year-old WASP lesbian in love and committed to my loving partner who is Sicilian and Jewish. We have been together for a year and a half and we are raising her 2 children together. Suddenly, just before setting foot into synagogue, I had this feeling that becoming a Jew would be a path that I would embark upon. After being raised Protestant and hating organized religion in general, establishing a relationship with a higher power and participating in a religious ceremonies strangely seems to be what is right for me right now.

The congregation in our small town is progressive and many members are converts to Judaism. My issue is: we’re getting married in four months and we would like a Jewish ceremony. I inquired with a few senior members of the congregation and they put me in contact with the person in charge of classes that converted Jews take. The teacher said that the classes had already begun and unless I knew Hebrew, I couldn’t join until the next go around well into the future. He also mentioned that the process generally takes a year to a year and a half. This scared me, I didn’t know I had to learn that much Hebrew and that the process would take so long. I reported back to the senior members, they scoffed at such requirements. They encouraged me to spend time with the people of the congregation to make sure this is something I truly want. They also assured me that learning a few cardinal prayers and basic Jewish terms and customs would be sufficient in allowing me to be a Jew.

My problem is, I am truly and sincerely interested in becoming a Jew and raising our children in a Jewish household, but I would really like to be considered a Jewish at our wedding 4 months from now. Where do I go from here? From what I have learned, Jewish ceremonies can most certainly exist without the presence of a rabbi. Should we roll on our own? My instinct is to continue with how I see fit and absorb what I can about Judaism until the wedding and I’ll know that although my journey has just begun, I can get married as a Jew and continue blossoming long after the wedding has ended. What do you think oh wise Yenta?

-Jonesing to Be a Jew

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