Let Us Introduce You
I love inviting new and prospective members to my house for Shabbat dinner, but I’m always surprised when someone says, “I’d love to, but … my spouse isn’t Jewish” as though that’s a problem, or something they should keep quiet. I guess in some synagogues, maybe it is. But not at Beth Jacob. I could tell them that our non-Jewish spouses are members of the congregation, and members of our Shul community. That our rabbis help them sit Shiva, visit them in the hospital, and take care of them as members. That no one keeps track, or notices, or judges anything. But instead, I usually just smile and say “That’s ok – neither is mine! Does 7pm work for you?”
Beyond those surface details, though, and what became most important to me as we grew more familiar with the Beth Jacob community, was the realization of how much mutual support and acceptance play a part in all aspect of synagogue life. People were at services because they truly wanted to be there – we never had the sense of disapproving members sitting in the back row, glaring at their watches because a prayer leader was singing slowly or a sermon going on a bit long. And congregants didn’t seem to pass judgement on one another over questions of who kept the “most kosher” home or possessed the most expensive car or most fashionable clothes.
It has now been 10 years since my mother, Ellie, Mara and I converted, and 8 since my father followed. In that time I can state that, without a doubt, Beth Jacob has played the lead role in my religious journey. My family members, even those that did not convert, are now part of an incredibly loving and supporting community to whom we can turn in times of sadness and celebration.
The variety in the backgrounds of Beth Jacob members as well as the different ages groups is also a plus in why we continue to come here. We are fascinated by the reasons people choose to become Jewish here; especially when it is not just because of marriage.