Joining Our People

by Arliene Botnick, May 29, 2016

“Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God”

She made the decision, so long ago in the time of the Judges. Even after the death of her Jewish husband and the admonition from her mother-in-law Naomi to stay in Moab, Ruth chooses Judaism; Ruth chooses to return with Naomi to Judea and continue as part of our people.

Ruth is considered the first convert to Judaism, and the exchange between Naomi and Ruth is rather like the first Beit Din. One can only imagine how difficult that decision was for Ruth. Without her husband, what could her future in Bethlehem be? Yet, she vowed to stay with Naomi, to be part of the Jewish people, to continue on the path she had begun in marrying her husband. And she ultimately becomes the great grandmother of King David.

So, on Shavuot, when we celebrate standing together at Sinai as God gives us the Commandments, we read Ruth’s story and we honour those who still today choose to become one of us, to embrace Judaism, to go where we go, to live as we live, to enrich us, as so many before have enriched the Jewish people by converting to Judaism.

Like Ruth, a prospective Jew by choice is making a huge decision, a well-thought out decision, a dedicated decision. For some, being a part of a Jewish family may not entail formal conversion, but involves respect and acceptance and understanding of one’s Jewish partner. About one third of our Solel families are mixed-married and we are blessed with the involvement and support given by these non-Jewish partners. About one third of our families have one (or both) partners having converted – our modern day “Ruths”. And they are an amazingly dedicated and involved group of adults, active on committees, teaching in our school, regular service and Torah Study attendees.

On Saturday June 11th, we will honour three more members of Solel who have completed our J.I.C Programme, met with the Beit Din and have gone to Mikvah. Now, like Ruth, they will say to our Congregation, “Wither thou goest, I will go. Your people shall be my people, and your God shall be my God.”

Please join us on June 11th for our Tikkun Leil Shavuot programme and help us formally welcome our three “new Jews”.

Filed under: Educator's Message

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