Sunday, February 19, 2023

Reflections 11 Years Later

It's been just over 11 years since I completed the orthodox conversion process that created this blog. What's changed? What's it like "on the other side"?

Last month, I saw my conversion anniversary on the calendar and made a note in my planner. ...And then I completely forgot about it until a week after the anniversary.

So that's about how it's going. It's...normal. Just life. I don't think about it often.

But would I feel that way if my world and the rest of the world hadn't also changed so much, so fast in the last 11 years? I don't know. 

People who convert are often people comfortable making big changes. Not everyone is capable of overturning their lives completely. Conversion is rarely the last big project for that kind of personality. But I also think most of us would agree that the last 11 years have been unusually eventful compared to the decade before.

For myself: Long-term unemployment due to the aftereffects of the 2008 recession, marriage, infertility, becoming a caregiver for my mother and then her death,  Hurricane Sandy, new communities, being diagnosed ADHD, later learning that I'm autistic, raising young kids, #MeToo, the Black Lives Matter movement, the rise of racism, antisemitism, and fascism, Covid, losing my job to Covid, the current bipartisan Covid denialism while living as a high-risk family, becoming a small-scale farmer and herbalist, homeschooling my kids, the death of my beloved elderly dog 2 weeks ago. There's always something.

I still haven't been inside a Jewish space since February 2020 because of the lack of Covid precautions. I've had to build a new way of living in a world that fundamentally doesn't care about the safety or well-being of me or my family, and that includes Jewish spaces in my experience. (No, I'm not interested in your Covid denialist or minimalizing comments. I've heard it all.)

I became a volunteer political organizer in secular politics several years ago, and I only realize now that I've long been a political organizer here. I've been advocating for the rights of conversion candidates and against racism in our community since 2010. I've fought repeatedly with the Powers that Be to hold conversion abusers accountable, both in my case and in others. Three guesses how successful those efforts have been at creating systemic change! But we've built a community, many more people know their rights, and many have validation that red flags are in fact red flags, not their imagination.


It's been a lot, both internally and externally. My conversion is old news in my world even though it dominated my life for so many years.

Does that mean it'll be like that for you? No way to know. But I think we all find that our conversion eventually does fade into the background as our lives move forward. The mundane and the emergencies eventually keep you too busy to think about it much anymore. It doesn't affect your day-to-day as it did before. And if it was abusive or otherwise traumatic (as it can be even under "good" and well-intentioned circumstances), it can take time for those wounds to heal. But they do eventually stop hurting so much on a daily basis. 


So what's the upshot here? Whatever you're struggling with now will eventually be over, and it'll be old news. Nothing is forever, and no one is ever alone. Others have been there, and we've gotten through it. You can too. But whatever happens, nothing stays the same for long. New problems, new celebrations, new people, new goes on.

You're gonna be okay. You're not alone.


  1. I'm not a convert, but I've been reading your blog on and off for a number of years. That is a lot you've been through. I guess I would have my own long list (including my forthcoming marriage). The reason your list resonated for me is that I was also diagnosed autistic, in 2021. I'm still processing it two years on. I feel that there should be more support in the frum world for autistics, particularly "high-functioning" ones (which is often a misnomer). My brain says that if I feel like that, I should do something about it myself, but I struggle to know what, and how to do it with social anxiety and frequent autistic exhaustion. Anyway, I'm rambling now, I just wanted to say that the post resonated: things do change.

  2. I am so happy I came across your blog last week. I am new to the conversion journey, and it is daunting and I am figuring out a lot on my own at the moment as I am not near any Jewish communities. So while I read, I am looking into communities and planning how I will interact to see if they are a good fit for me and my children. I appreciate your insight and candor.

    1. Welcome! Good luck, that's a hard place to be!