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“Journey of the Soul”: An open letter of a Suriname giyur candidate

Shevat 5775
Februari 2015

“Journey of the Soul”: An open letter of a Suriname giyur candidate.

Dear reader,

I come from a family with different backgrounds. One of these backgrounds is a Jewish one. My grandfather and great-grandfather and my great-grandmother were all Jewish descendants. Our arch father was Abraham Garcia, a Sephardic Jew who lived in Surinam (South America). My great-grandmother was Abigail Da Meza and was also from Sephardic Jewish origin. My family never did anything with Judaism. But I always felt a connection with Israel and with the Jewish people and what Judaism stands for, ever since I was a child growing up. At that time I didn’t even know about my Sephardic Jewish ancestors. I just couldn’t explain how and why I had this feeling. I can’t express it in words, because it is such a deep unexplainable thing. It is my soul that has such a longing and feels a void whenever I try not to think of Judaism or try to put it in the background. It is a feeling that would not and did not let me go. Later on I found out about my Jewish ancestors and at that point everything fell into place. Finally I knew where this feeling was coming from. But knowing where the feeling came from did not mean the end of it. On the contrary.

That same feeling I had from when I was 12 years old, was still there when I was 27 years of age. I was now in a different country, Holland, and still this feeling did not fade away. It would not let me go, even though I was far from home. I told myself; ‘I have to know if this feeling is genuine, because maybe it is just a temporary feeling. Perhaps it will go way as time passes by’. But it didn’t and after I’ve let it rest for a year or two, I could no longer run away from it. I knew then that my soul would not rest and this longing would not go away. I wanted to do something about it with all my heart, because I knew that I would/could not find rest if I did nothing. I came to understand that for me Ha’Shem is the only G’d and that I wanted to take upon me His Mitzvoth and live according to His Thora. Even though this would be difficult to learn and maybe to live by, I wanted this with all my heart and all my soul. I wanted to understand the Thora and live my life by it. I no longer wanted to live a different life then the life the Thora prescribed for me. This became very important to me. I started to dig up everything I could find about my Sephardic ancestors. I asked my mother and aunts about this and also learned a lot from the official website of Jodensavanne, a former Jewish settlement in Surinam. I was eager to know and
learn everything I could, but still I longed for more. I started the journey of my soul. I started this journey along with my husband who is a descendant form Ashkenasi Jewish origin and who also had the same feelings I had. We found each other in this, without knowing about each other’s Jewish ancestry beforehand.

I knew I had to make fundamental changes in my life. I started to eat according to the Kashrutlist (from NIK) and learned about ‘Nida’. Later on I evolved to eating kosher with my family. At the same time I started honouring Shabbat with my family at home and did no forbidden work or other “Melachot” on Shabbat. The honouring of Shabbat alone brought so much peace and happiness to my life and my home, that I could not imagine living otherwise. It was so fulfilling to do this and to visit the synagogue of the Masorti community at that time. At this point I knew; ‘there is no going back for me, I have to pursue this’. I felt peace within myself and my soul and I knew I wanted to convert more than ever.

At first we went to the Masorti community, as I stated before. We were welcome to visit the synagogue, but when we explained that just visiting is not enough because we both had that empty feeling inside, the welcoming and helping gesture turned the other side. We had a meeting with some people of the Masorti community in order to explain why we wanted to convert. During this meeting they were not very friendly and were a bit hostile towards us. I felt misunderstood as did my husband, and we did not feel welcome anymore. But we still pursued our journey.

I went on searching, along with my husband, for the right way/path. Ultimately we came upon Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita who lives in Antwerp. We went to Antwerp to see him and we explained to him our feelings and our backgrounds. He was a very friendly, approachable Rabbi. He did not reject us at first sight (or three times), but allowed us to explain our feelings and the reason why we wanted to convert. After he listened to our story, he accepted us as his students. From there on we started weekly Shiurim by Skype. We learned the Hebrew Alphabet and Halacha. Now we can both read the Siddur and we know a lot more about the Jewish Law. Also my son and husband had their halachic “Brit Mila” by the religious doctor Henri Grynberg in Brussels. This was a very special day in our lives. To do this ritual was so important to us that words cannot describe the feelings and the intense connection we all felt, the moment this had taken place. We thank HaShem.

We are very happy that Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita made the decision to accept us and did not reject us. He is a good teacher and he knows so much. We learn a lot from his experiences and teachings. If we had not come across Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita, we would still be searching and dwelling, unable to start the journey to fulfillment of our soul-urges. Therefore we are very grateful to him. We hope, with his support and teachings, to make giyur in one or one and a half years from now.

We are also greatefully to Rav Menachem Sebbag, Shlita from AMOS Shul who supports us and is prepared to lend a helping hand. Rav Menachem Sebbag, Shlita also visited us at home and has kashered our kitchen and examined our Mezzuzot. We are very thankful also to his Rebbetzin, who taught me about “Hilchot Nida” and “The Laws of Family Purity”. We had much support from both these wonderful people whom HaShem sent to us at this crucial and important time in our lives.
We also thank HaShem for Rav Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Shlita for his willingness and kindness in listening to our life account and accepting us and helping us to prepare for our giyur.

Now we are looking forward to finalizing our journey and finally becoming part of this great faith, which our ancestors practiced in times flown by. We would like to fulfill our heart’s and soul urges by doing our giyur at the Charedi Beth Din of Bné Barak. This Charedi Beth Din has a record in acceptaning kandidates of Jewish descendants from Portuguese/Spanish and Mexican origin so called Maranos, “Nidchej Israel”. Furthermore we are fortunate to have an orthodox Shul where we live in Almere (close to Amsterdam), on walking distance. Rav Moshe Stiefel, Shlita is the Rabbi at this orthodox Shul. We will also register our son at the Jewish School in Amsterdam. We have already contacted the principal of this school (Mrs. Kloosterman).

Family Mulder
Almere Netherlands


Shevat 5775
Pasi foe a jéjé (journey of the soul) February 2015

Lobi wan,

Mi famiri de wan mix foe difrentie groupoe. Wan foe den groepoe na Jew. Mi srefi ben habi wan firi en wan sortoe connectie nanga Israël en den Jew sma mi heri libi. Maar nooit mi doe wan sani nanga a firi disie. In 2007 wan tjentjie kon in disi. Mi nagna mi masra (di de foe Jew afkomstig to) meki a besroiti foe doe wan sani nanga a firi di wi habi. Oen begin foe soekoe en loekoe fa oen kan doe wan sani en pe wi moesoe go. Dat ben de wan struggle, bekasi Jew sma srefi no wan jepi tra sma. Maar oen no las hopoe, oen go doro. Te wan tem oen meti Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita in Antwerpen. Disi na wan koni rabbijn en wan man nanga bigi ati en jepi trawang. Oen leg oen situatie uit na Rav. Daum, Shlita en ing accepteer oenoe en de oen leriman. Sinds 2012 wi e leri na eng via Skype. Wi kan lesi Hebrew now en leri foeroe sani foe Hallacha. Ibrie wikie wi habi sioer en wi e leri poko poko alla sani san wi moesoe sabi.
Wi de breti nanga oenoe leriman Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita bekasi a habi geduld en a sabi foeroe sani. Mi masra nanga mi pikien boi doe den ‘Brit Mila’ in Brussel tapoe Jew fasi. Dat ben de wan boeng mooi sani gi oenoe. Oen fer iso boeng foe doe a ritueel disi. A de wan belangrijk sani. Wi hopoe foe meki giyur, dan we de Jew, in wan yari. Maar te dat doro, wi e leri ibri wikie nanga Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita. Wi de tevreden. En via Skype a no de wan probleem, want wi leri hebrew en wi leri alla hallacha san de. Wi no hab foe go na Antwerpen ibri wikie. Dat de wan boeng regeling en wi de breti troe. Verder wi e go na AMOS sjoel foe Rav Menachem Sebbag, Shlita disi de wan vriendelijk en boeng Rabbi. We de zeer breti foe alla hulp foe eng. Ook a rabbi disi kon na oenoe oso foe kon loekoe oenoe. En a loekoe oenoe mezoezot en kasjeer oenoe botri. We de breti nanga ala sani sa a doe gi oenoe.

Familie Mulder
Almere Nederland

Vertaling van Surinaams naar Nederlands:

‘Reis van de Ziel’ Shevat 5775


Mijn familie is afkomstig uit verschillende achtergronden. Een van deze achtergronden betreft de Joodse. Ikzelf heb jarenlang, van kleins af aan, een onverklaarbare band met het Jodendom en Israël gehad. Ik kon het nooit uitleggen en wist ook niet precies waar dit vandaan kwam. Ik deed er verder niets mee, maar wist gewoon dat het er altijd was. In 2007 besloot ik er eindelijk serieus wat mee te doen. Ik kon dit gevoel en dit verlangen niet langer negeren. Ik wist dat ik geen vrede zou hebben tot ik er iets mee gedaan had. Mijn echtgenoot is ook van Joodse afkomst en samen begonnen wij aan deze reis, de reis van onze ziel. Wij wisten beiden dat er geen weg terug was voor ons. We moesten hoe dan ook iets met onze gevoelens en achtergrond. Het trok onweerstaanbaar aan ons en knaagde elke dag weer. Wij zijn op een gegeven moment gaan zoeken en hebben diverse sjoels bezocht. Uiteindelijk kwamen wij bij Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita uit Antwerpen terecht. Wij zijn zeer gezegend hierdoor. Het was fijn om met hem te praten en onze situatie en gevoelens uit te leggen. Hij wees ons niet af, maar accepteerde ons als zijn leerlingen. Wij waren hier zeer dankbaar voor. Vanaf dat moment hebben wij wekelijkse Shiurim via Skype. Wij leren veel van Rav Ahron Daum, Shlita door zijn ervaring als rabbijn en als leraar. Wij kunnen nu Hebreeuws lezen en weten veel van Halacha, de Joodse wet. Hij heeft veel geduld en wijst ons de weg op onze reis naar het uitkomen in het Jodendom. Wij zijn zeer dankbaar hiervoor. Als wij hem niet waren tegengekomen, zouden wij nu nog zoeken zonder resultaat. Ook hebben mijn zoon en man hun Halachische besnijdenis ondergaan door de orthodoxe dokter Henri Grynberg in Brussel. Dit was zo een mooie intense ervaring. Dit belangrijke ritueel uit te voeren, betekende heel veel voor ons.

Wij kijken ernaar uit om met de hulp van Rav Ahron Daum, Rav Lopez Cardozo en Rav Menachem Sebbag, Shlita ons giyur proces te kunnen volbrengen en deel uit te maken van dit mooie geloof en volk van HaShem en volgens Zijn voorschriften te mogen leven. Wij zullen graag de Mitzvoth op ons nemen door giyur te doen bij het Orthodoxe Beth Din van Bné Barak. Dit Charedisch Beth Din staat erom bekend afstammelingen van Portugese/Spaanse en Mexicaanse joden, Maranos genoemd, te verwelkomen en te accepteren, “Nidchej Israël”. Wij zullen na onze giyur bij het Charedish Beth Din de orthodoxe sjoel van Rav Moshé Stiefel, Shlita bezoeken. Deze is op loopafstand van onze woonplaats in Almere (nabij Amsterdam). Verder zullen wij onze zoon op gegeven tijd op de Joodse school in Amsterdam inschrijven. Wij hebben ook al contact met de directeur van deze school opgenomen.

Familie M.

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