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My sincere Longing to be part of the Jewish Believe and People

BS’D
1 kislev 5777
01-12-2016, Culemborg

My sincere Longing to be part of the Jewish Believe and People.

The question: "Why do you want to be Jewish?" is the question that has been asked probably more than six times to me. By answering this question is how I would like to start this letter.
Why do I want to become Jewish? I know I want to become Jewish. I notice thru my life style that I want to become and be Jewish. I just feel that I want to be Jewish. I want to live my life the way it makes me feel good, by what makes me happy.
I will try to explain my deepest wish in a few sentences.
My name is Diana A. and I'm 28 years old. I have lived all my life in a small town in The Netherlands. My mother is Dutch and my father is Croatian.
I’m currently working for eighth years as a teacher at an elementary school. My parents were raised as Roman Catholics. I and my sisters are not raised very religious. Still, I always had a lot of questions. I lived as a child in a multicultural neighborhood. I had many different cultures and beliefs around me. As a child I already did not felt connected to the Catholic faith. When I got older I started to have more questions. I know I'm a good person, I know I have a good heart and I am always very grateful for everything in life. I always believed that there is more. But I always kept searching for answers.
We learned in school about Judaism, it started to get my interest and I even made a paper about it. One day my sister said: "Judaism is the oldest religion”.
From that moment I started to read more about Judaism. I started to ask around me if anyone knew Jewish people. We have a synagogue in our city, but unfortunately it is no longer in use. I led myself deeper into the Halacha and this gave me a good feeling.
Judaism was constantly on my mind. I was also curious about Israel and decided to go there. The first time I went to Israel, I did not know what to expect. For sure I never expected that my life would change completely.
Arriving in Israel, felt like coming home. I experienced the best trip of my life. Jerusalem was magical and stole my heart. When I came back home in the Netherlands I immediately searched for some Dutch primary schools in Israel, to see if I could work there.
If that were the only steps to take, I would have jumped right away on the plane to Israel to rebuild my life there...
After this I went five times back to see and feel more of Israel. I felt an emotional commitment.
With the question "Should I have Jewish relatives and can I become Jewish myself?" in mind, I started to draw my family tree. Unfortunately, I did not get far.
I began to learn Hebrew and the Alef-Bet and immersing myself in the Jewish culture. I noticed that this would become very difficult on my own. Besides that, I had no Jewish contacts around me, with whom I could practice the Hebrew reading. So I decided, a little bit more than two years ago, to search on the Internet where I could follow Hebrew reading and culture lessons. I connected with Bracha Heintz in Utrecht. I told her about my interest in Judaism and why I wanted to take lessons. I bought some books from her and then for a long time I studied by myself.
Over time I red more about Kashrut, and I started to change my cuisine and eating habits. I bought a double set plates and cutlery one set for milk dishes and one set for meat dishes. I started to eat a lot of vegetarian food, because I could not buy Kosher products in my area. I travel once in a while to Amsterdam to buy chicken at Marcus and also some other products at Mouwes. Beside this I order sometimes at kosher4u in Antwerp.
When I was in Antwerp, as I sometimes did and still do, I also bought products at a Kosher grocery store. My life changed completely. Previously, I often ate with my parents, but from then on I always ate at home.
The coziness and family bond is very important to me, but my family understood my need to eat Kosher. The spiritual reason why we eat “Kosher” food, is what motivates me and what is important to me. From that time I also started to wash my hands before eating and say the “Berachot” over it.
My family supports me completely in my learning process. When I tell them about my experiences, they are very positive. They fully support my decision and understand why this is so important to me. This gives me a very good feeling and even more strength and energy to go for it 100%.
My high fixed costs made it difficult for me to attend regular classes. That's why I often used lessons over the internet. I have watched many videos of Rabbis on chabad.org. From this I learned a lot, but I missed the contact.
Bracha Heintz advised me to read the book: "The Path of the Righteous Gentile" and focus more on the Noachide laws. I purchased this book. However, I noticed after reading that it didn’t give me a complete feeling. I bought myself the book “Kitsoer Shulchan Aruch”, the Jewish codex with Dutch translation. Every night I read a few pages. From Rabbi Heintz I got: "Recommended Prayers for Noachide Community Services and Personal Worship".
I helped Bracha for Shavuot to fill bags with presents for old and sick people. This felt very warm and meaningful to me. Not long after it I received an invitation from Bracha to spend Shabbat at her home.

A lot of people would come there so there were many preparations to make. The night before I helped to prepare the food and on Friday I went extra early in order to also help. This was very special to me. I met a lot of people there, but unfortunately we didn’t exchanged phone numbers. Along with the daughter of Bracha, we made the salads. Here I learned a lot. I also got tips for the proper way of dressing “Tsniut”. During the dinner everyone stood up to introduce themselves. I was very inspired by the Rabbi from London. For me it was very exciting when it was my turn, but the people around me gave me a good feeling to talk. I was very grateful to be able to experience this there.
I was hoping for more contacts and I wanted to experience Jewish celebrations. Bracha said that I could better focus on chapters of the “KSA”. It would be difficult to come at her home with the celebrations. There are Jewish people who specially come to her home to spend the holiday surrounded by Jewish people. Because I'm not Jewish yet, it would be too complicated. Through the Internet I found several e-mail addresses of rabbis in the Netherlands. I asked if there was the possibility to enter the synagogue. I received 4 emails, one response back but unfortunately it stopped there.
On the Internet I found a letter of recommendation from someone who has done the giyur and that was prepared by Rabbi Ahron Daum. I read all the positive comments about the lessons and I saw that there were also lessons through Skype.
This would be very helpful for me. Bracha mainly could give lessons in the afternoon. With my full-time job I didn’t always find the time to go for two hours. So I decided to send an email to Rabbi Ahron Daum. I got a very friendly email back. In the meanwhile I had 5 lessons of 2 hours. We started from the beginning. The lessons are very good, Rabbi Ahron Daum is very kind and I learn a lot from him. The finest thing until now is that Rabbi Ahron Daum has given me a lot of confidence for the future.
For 2 times I went on Shabbat to the Synagogue in Amstelveen on the advice of Rabbi Ahron Daum. The first time the Amos security asked, "Why do you want to be Jewish?" Inside the Synagogue I received a very warm welcome. I got help from someone beside me to be on the right page from the Siddur. I had come on a beautiful day.
After the service there were sandwiches and pastries. The Rabbi Sebag was very friendly and he invited me to stay. I met a lady who told me a lot about the community and the Jewish life there. It was very special. I meet new people, I feel welcome and it is very instructive. It is a very special feeling when everyone sings together. I plan to go every week.
So in conclusion to respond on the questions “Why do I want to do the giyur?” and “Why do I want to be Jewish?” I can answer that I believe everything happens for a reason. In recent years I started to feel happier, because I'm living more to the Jewish Laws. And I look forward to continue learning and to bring out my final wish. I look forward to the lessons with Rabbi Ahron Daum. In December there is a seminar at Rav Daum’s home, I hope to learn new things and to meet new people. For me it is more then clear why I want to become Jewish and which path I want to follow.
I look forward to this process, with my goal to become Jewish.
Diana A.
Culemborg, Nederland

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