My (21F) dad is Jewish and my mom was raised Catholic. His grandfather was the president of a synagogue in New York, and a lot my patrilineal family is still very culturally involved in Judaism. Neither my parents are observant (and they divorced when I was young), but when I was 8 I became very interested in Judaism and convinced my dad that we should join the local Reform temple. There, I was recognized as Jewish, attended Hebrew school for years, and had my bat miztvah.
After my ceremony and my beloved Bubbe’s death, I became less and less spiritual. Increasingly, I felt the weight of being “not really Jewish,” despite being raised by a lot of Jewish family. Now, going into my last year of college, I wish I felt close to G-d and the Jewish community as I once did, even if I was never universally accepted.
Last winter, I was in Tunisia and met an old Tunisian-Jewish woman at a New Years Party. It was a really lovely and meaningful conversation (the history of Jews in Tunisia is a fascinating one, and there are only about 1,100 left), until she asked about the specifics of my heritage and the told me I wasn’t really Jewish. That hurt, considering how much I admired her and how being Jewish used to feel like such a big part of my identity. But I also understand that that’s the commonly understood reality of the Jewish law.
This interaction, years of feeling spiritually empty, and my hope to go on Birthright this year have led me to start thinking seriously about converting. I know that you can do Birthright through patrilineal heritage, but I imagine the experience would be even richer if it helped mark a new Jewish beginning for me. I am also thinking about applying for a Boren fellowship in Israel for Hebrew for after I graduate, and I would love to be able to fully immerse myself/feel fully welcome in the Jewish community there.
I’m posting here because I now live in a different state from my childhood synagogue, which already considered me Jewish anyway, so I’m not sure where to start. I would appreciate any guidance on Conservative conversions, metrics used by the state of Israel, and how long the conversion process would be given my familiarity with Jewish scripture and prayer in Hebrew—as well as any other thoughts on my situation. Thank you for taking the time to read this!