Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dear Rabbi,

The following is a "first step" I took earlier this year at connecting my Head with my Heart.

I hope you enjoy...

Hi there Rabbi,

My name is Joel Batten, and I'm thinking about the possibility of converting to Judaism. I'm 35 now, bit I began thinking along these lines maybe 10 years ago(in my mid-twenties). At the time, I had very limited resources as far as researching and learning about Judaism. I had no computer, and I lived in a place where there just weren't any Jewish people(rural eastern NC).

I should say that I initially began my reading and research out of my "great and innate curiosity" about all things. Judaism ended up being something that I realized that I knew nothing about, so in a very Me fashion, I began reading...on my own, buying books when i could find them...some of them great, some of them no so(I actually read the Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism!).

I think that Judaism struck a chord in me because of how, to me, it seemed very much about study. And that as a result of that study, it seemed very open to discussion and multiple interpretations. I felt that Judaism would probably welcome someone like me with all my questions and my fondness for debate. I also felt drawn to a Jewish sense of community, ritual, and a heritage that has been passed down for thousands of years.

At some point between then and now...for years...I lost my way. I stopped looking for anything bigger than myself. Life just pushed and pulled, and for a while I merely existed. Admittedly, I was lost.

In recent years, however, life has come together for me in a way that I never dreamed possible...finally finishing school, moving to Florida in 2005, starting my career, and finding myself in a loving relationship(the like of which I have only ever dreamed of)...I own a successful business, which is thriving even in these economic times.

All is well. Life has become a bit of a dream, and it is allowing me the time and the energy to make efforts on connecting my Heart with my Head.

Just the other day, I happened upon your entry on your Temple's blog entitled "Phobia." I felt encouraged by your words and the meaning that I drew from them. I felt happy at the thought of your inclusive tone, which has led me to this e-mail.

You see, Rabbi, I am a happy, healthy, gay man. My Husband and I married legally in Boston more than a year ago, and we are now in the process of seeking to enlarge our family through adoption. Beginning this process has made me extremely mindful of what I hope I can give to my children as a Father.

That said, the Idea of converting is my own, although I am fully supported by my Husband, who is actually overjoyed that I am thinking/reaching out in a spiritual direction.

As I said before, I was extremely encouraged by your words and am taking my stumbling upon them as a "sign." I completely understand that you might not be the Rabbi for me, and that your Temple might not be the place for me, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could find it in your heart to point me in the right direction.

Many thanks in advance,

Joel Batten-Amador

His response was lovely. He thanked me for sharing my journey up to this point with him. He expressed happiness that my life had changed and that I now found myself at a point where the thought of conversion and building my family were possible for me. He said that he would love to meet with me(or us).

He also said that he thought it was great that I could tell which of the books that I had read were good sources of information, and that he would love to know what I thought of what I had read.

The day that I wrote my e-mail to the Rabbi and the day that I received his response are two of the most exciting days of my life.