The issue of conversion to Judaism is in the news again and as I read the articles, many echo my own feelings. Especially when I read the about the uncertainty and randomness of the whole process:
1. Converts are in a state of persistent limbo. During the process we are never told how long it can or should take. We cannot get married if we are dating, we cannot date if we are single. We lose control over the most important choices in our lives and hand them over to men with whom we are unfamiliar for an indeterminate amount of time. I was unable to give a new job a start date, to give my former job proper notice, sign a lease on a new apartment or set a wedding date because I was kept in the dark about how much longer my conversion could possibly take. Days? Weeks? Months? A year? Several? This is psychological torture. A rough estimate and a clear plan for how to move forward to get to the finish line, the mikvah, is the least that a convert deserves.
(Bethany S. Mandel: A bill of rights for Jewish converts)
For me, that makes 10 years of limbo. For different reasons (not being sure, moving, town without rabbi, and other), but nonetheless ten years of being in a state of "in between". Not really Jewish, but also not non-Jewish anymore. Not sure when, where and even whether at all I would convert.
For my daily life it doesn’t make much of difference. I can pray, eat kosher, keep holidays etc. just like I would do if I were Jewish. But there is a clear difference with regards to the future. During a conversion you have to put your life-plans on hold. Dating, marriage, children, moving somewhere – not advisable.
But there is only so long one can postpone a life. It is very hard to live with uncertainty about such an important part of your life and it takes up a lot of energy. For myself I have decided that I have wasted enough time and energy waiting and I am going to move on with my life. If conversion happens – good, if not – G-d knows my heart. I would like to have Jewish children, but I’m not going to sacrifice my chance of having children for the possibility of them being Jewish. It would be different if I knew I only had to wait for another year or two. Many sacrifices are possible if there is a goal and a deadline. But I have nothing.