My Or Hadash Story
Sometimes when I am attending the Shabbat morning service, in the Rabbi’s study, with my fellow congregants sitting in chairs arranged in a circle around the Torah scroll on a table in the center, I wonder how I came to be in this place, singing prayers in Hebrew, and even reading from the Torah. How did I find this gem of a congregation that has supported and nurtured my interest in so many aspects of Judaism? How did this transplant from New England, raised Catholic, find a spiritual home in a Reconstructionist congregation in Pennsylvania?
I came to the decision to convert to Judaism when my daughters were young, because I wanted a spiritual dimension to our family life and I wanted my children to have a religious education. My first exposure to Judaism was through my husband and his family. I began reading books with the kids and we, as a family, began embracing celebration of the Jewish holidays. Eventually, I began reading more and more because I realized that I needed a spiritual dimension to my own life.
I embarked on a year of formal study with a rabbi, which culminated in a Bet Din and immersion in the mikveh. In 2005, we found our way to Or Hadash because we were looking for a welcoming congregation with a vibrant religious school. We have never looked back. The experience of our girls becoming Bat Mitzvah at Or Hadash was transformative for all of us. It deepened our connections within the family, to the community, and to Judaism as a whole.
We have also been blessed with the support of the Or Hadash community during challenging times in our lives. Over the years, I have found numerous connections to Or Hadash that have enriched my life, such as Shabbat services, Torah study, mussar classes, and involvement in the Education Steering Committee. I am always impressed with the work and dedication of so many people that make Or Hadash the vibrant place of learning, connection and support that it is.
So when I am sitting in the Rabbi’s study on a Shabbat morning, surrounded by my fellow congregants, as the Torah service begins, and the question is asked, “Who is leyning today?” I take a deep breath and I am amazed to hear myself respond, “I am.” I take my place in this community and humbly give what I have to offer. And I feel the support of community.