I’m feeling very peaceful today. I went to the mikvah this morning. I was a little nervous, just because official rites of passage can be a little scary. But I knew everyone was going to be super nice and supportive (and they were!).
My grandmother once told me about her father's family, and we bonded over learning about one of our most famous ancestors, Mary, Queen of Scots. Years later, I did some genealogical research while on maternity leave to keep my mind sharp and give me something to focus on outside the realm of taking care of a newborn.
Our tradition teaches that once someone has converted to Judaism, they are as Jewish as a Jew by birth and we are not to speak of it again with them, or with anyone else. It should be as if they have always been Jewish. To not speak of it is to fully honor the person who chose Judaism by not making any distinctions between them and the born-Jewish members of our communities.
As I stood at the top of the steps of the pool of warm water, I could feel my feet tingle with anticipation. The feeling slowly enveloped my body, moving steadily up my legs, to my core, my heart and my mind. The feeling did not agitate or annoy, it was like a blanket of calmness and serenity. I stood at the top of the steps looking down into the mikvah. I took a breath and descended slowly until I stood fully in the water.
Judaism is a religion, but it is also a practice. I choose to practice my Judaism by expressing my love for the Jewish people and my becoming one of them. I practice by immersing myself in Jewish wisdom and participating in the conversation of Jewish philosophy.
Three years before the COVID-19 pandemic response sheltered millions of people at home and drove us to do all things virtual, the URJ was crafting online communities of learners as they journeyed together through our 21 sessions of Introduction to Judaism Online.
This November, Marisa Baggett, a Memphis-area Jewish chef and food blogger, will lead three cooking classes for families and children on Reform Judaism on the Go. We caught up with her to talk about her amazing journey as a Jew and chef.