Kim and Darren
I was born and raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, a small city along the coast. My mom is South African and Catholic and my dad is British and identifies as agnostic. I was raised Catholic in my earlier childhood, attending weekly Sunday services and taking part in the various church programs geared towards children. Shortly after starting High School I made a new friend who introduced me to the Methodist church, which is where I stayed until college. I was a very active member of the church as youth group leader, outreach ministry team and lead the weekly worship services. My parents were very supportive of my beliefs and respect other religions. They always encouraged me to follow my heart and live my life in a way that was meaningful to me. However, as much as I loved being part of the Methodist church community and had such a great and supportive group of friends, there was always something missing in my heart and I was constantly searching for more.
I met my Jewish husband Darren about 4 years ago while he was working in London. He was born and raised in Long Island, NY in a reforme/conservative Jewish synagogue. As our relationship grew, I saw how close his family was and how meaningful their traditions were. My curiosity for knowing more about the Jewish religion became even stronger and the reason for my joining the Introduction to Judaism program.
I found the URJ website while I was researching online about conversion to Judaism. I contacted the URJ Boston office seeking guidance. They suggested the Introduction to Judaism course because it would give me a broad, yet comprehensive overview of the Jewish religion. I attended the spring course at Temple Sinai in Brookline with about 35 participants. At first I was hesitant and even afraid of entering into a totally unknown and unfamiliar journey. However, the teachers and the participants were all very welcoming and respectful, my nerves soon turned into excitement about the journey that lay ahead of me. The Intro to Judaism class was structured in a way that created a judgment free environment. The program leadership remained respectful of each person's story yet connected us to each other in different ways.
The classes covering the high holidays were the highlights of the program for me. I loved learning about the traditions and rituals, and the real meaning behind them. I began to have a new found respect and connection to the Jewish religion and culture.
I have never in my life met such warm, attentive and welcoming people. I was amazed by their passion and commitment to the program and each of the participants. We were a big class, yet all the instructors and URJ ambassador knew us by name and knew about our lives. They took the time to get to know as on a more personal level and support us in any way possible. I believe that the program helped me explore my curiosity in a deeper way and was a major reason why I made one of the best decisions of my life, to actually convert!
My participation in the program has changed my life in many ways. Not only did I find my rabbi and my synagogue, but I built new friendships that are still very strong today. Darren and his side of the family are all Jewish; understanding more about Judaism and actively participating in the High Holidays have made my relationships within his family much stronger. I will be going to the Mikveh at the end of the summer for my official conversion ceremony and I look forward to raising a Jewish family with my husband Darren in the future.