My dealings with Montreal Jewish Conversion date back some 25 years ago. I landed there out of a persistent and thorough curiosity about what it meant to be Jewish, a relationship with a ferociously secular Israeli unable to quench my thirst.
I had chosen the Montreal Jewish Conversion because no other type of Jewish denomination interested me. I felt I was going to the source, to the purest form of what it meant to be a Jew. I could trust and rely on the teachers, mentors, and rabbis that surrounded me. They walked the talk.
I was a dedicated but uncommitted student in how to live as a Jew, held back by a mixture of fear about what was ahead and of the wrong constellations. During the year and of a half of mandatory classes, a growing love for Judaism and Jews took place within myself.
I developed refinement and depth in how I saw and understood the world. However, these changes were mainly intellectual: I was unable, unwilling, to jump boat. I was then presented with a tough decision: to make the journey on my own or to leave the program.
I became mad at just about everyone in the program, I cried, and maybe even screamed a bit. I left and vowed to never return.
But Hashem had a different plan for me. By way of some contortion, which only He knows how to do, He sent me to Israel for free – some few months after I had left both the secular boyfriend and the Montreal Jewish Conversion , still proclaiming to anyone and everyone that Judaism wasn’t for me. In Israel, I met a man whose heart was at the same place as mine and, after a week, I knew he would become my husband. The constellation had changed. I reentered the Montreal Jewish Conversion. Everything suddenly became clear, smooth, and easy, enough for me to be able to swallow the tremendous “social compromise pill” I would make by transforming from a Quebecoise pure laine to a practicing Jew.
I became Jewish some 6 months after reentering the program and got married not long after to the man I’ve been happily married ever since.
The Montreal Jewish Conversion staff is professional, knowledgeable and oftentimes pitilessly “yashar”, meaning that they can present you with the harsh truth in a way that leaves you only one option: face it. All the good reasons for me to make lifelong friendships. Until this day, I genuinely feel that I have had the best teachers, whom I still admire, those that prepared me for life, teachers that gave me enough knowledge to walk with confidence as a Jew. Furthermore, the Montreal Jewish Conversion program has been a recognized business card as my Halachic status has – thus far – never been questioned anywhere in the world, including in Israel where I’ve been living for more than 8 years.
As an endnote, and in the hope to preempt potential misconceptions, I would like to add that I’m not some fanatic extremist. While I do cover my hair and cannot remember the last time I wore pants, I have not renounced my past and everything I was. My French is still spiced up with Quebecois expressions and I maintain contact with my family whom I sometimes see. It is a delicate and complex equilibrium, which requires strength, determination, and inner peace. And Hashem’s lining up the stars.