Meet our Faculty and Ambassadors

Meet our Faculty and Ambassadors

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Participant

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Leah Sawyer

I took the Introduction to Judaism course as part of my Jewish Journey. I had been flirting with the idea of becoming Jewish for over twenty years, so when I started the Introduction to Judaism course, I was already fairly sure that Reform Judaism was for me. The Introduction to Judaism course cemented my decision.

Intro was fun but also intense! Our class of about twenty people of all ages met at a local synagogue where we learned from rabbis, cantors, and Reform Jewish Outreach Boston staff. We studied Jewish history, holidays and festivals and Shabbat, food and music, traditions and life cycles, theology and prayer, Torah and social justice, and the ways to create a Jewish home. It was a lot to learn in 16 sessions, but the time flew with laughter and personal sharing from fellow students.

Some of my fellow students were in an exploratory “what is this Judaism thing anyway” phase, while others were actively involved with someone who was Jewish and wanted to understand more about their partner’s religious/cultural background. There were a couple of us who were considering conversion, but fewer than I had expected. All ends of the spectrum were warmly welcomed -- I didn’t feel like the instructors were pushing anyone toward conversion (as I had expected). They were simply delighted to pass on knowledge and support us where we were.

Intro was one piece of a larger conversion process. I spent over a year studying and learning with a local rabbi. I shared with him what I learned in Intro, and talked about my questions about conversion, and explored what it could mean to live a Jewish life.

I completed my conversion in August 2014. I met with the beit din, a panel of three rabbis who asked me about my journey and what had brought me to that moment and this decision. Then I experienced my first, deeply- moving mikveh (ritual bath). At a ceremony at my synagogue, I was given the surprisingly heavy (!) Torah scroll to hold and I was gently wrapped in the long tallit (prayer shawl) that I had hand-embroidered over several months. Since then, I’ve been continuing what will be a life-long journey of learning, growth, and living my new Jewish identity.

As I write this, it is almost exactly a year later. I am planning my wedding for October and we are anticipating the birth of our first child! I can only imagine what it will feel like to continue my spiritual journey as a wife and a parent, and to share Judaism with my new family.