By Rick and Sarah Perron
If someone had told us seven years ago that we would one day make the decision to become Jews, we would have been doubtful, to say the least. However, on 26 Sivan, 5771 (June 28th, 2011), each of us found ourselves immersing in the serene waters of the beautiful mikvaot at Mayyim Hayyim, in order to join the family of Israel, to become Jews.
Our journey into Judaism, both as individuals and as a couple, was initially spurred on by theological troubles we were having with the religion in which we had both been raised. In Judaism, we found the proper context for the Bible we had been reading our entire lives, and answers to questions we had never been able to obtain, or had not even been allowed to search for. However, as time went on, our intellectual and spiritual delight in what Judaism offered us was joined by a deep love for and identification with the Jewish people. Through attendance at shul, Shabbat dinners with Jewish friends, community volunteer work, and so many precious individual encounters, a soul connection was formed; rather than talking about “them,” we began to say “us.” We came to a place of no longer being content to be “strangers in the gate,” and knew it was time to come home.
Under the guidance of Rabbi Sam Seicol, we went through the process of conversion. When the day on which we would go before the Beit Din and immerse in the mikveh arrived, both of us battled feelings of nervousness at the magnitude of the commitment we were about to make, as well as the logistics of the mikveh experience itself. However, upon walking through the door at Mayyim Hayyim, our fears were greatly reduced by the warm and friendly manner of our mikveh guides. Never once through the entire process were we made to feel anything but accepted and welcome by these two individuals, who were so conscientious about our comfort and dignity.
After talking with the Beit Din, we were sent off to shower and prepare individually for our immersions. Though still a bit rattled by nerves and excitement, we each tried to concentrate on the beautiful kavanot provided by Mayyim Hayyim to help us give spiritual intent to each step of our preparation. Then, the immersions; just like our wonderful guides, the mikveh waters were so warm and welcoming, and felt far sweeter than any normal bath. It was amazing to think that our complex seven year spiritual journey was culminating in such a simple, unadorned act.
We renewed our wedding vows following our immersions, accompanied by a small group of friends. Our mikveh guides presented us with much appreciated gifts of honey and Shabbat candles, to sweeten and light our entry in Judaism as a new Jewish couple. Like our first wedding day, our conversion day feels like it went by in somewhat of a blur. However, we have a distinct sense of having come home, even as our journey is just beginning.
Rick (Yoav) and Sarah (Shira) Perron currently live in Beverly, MA with their two cats, Griffin and Wallace. Sarah works at the historic Vilna Shul as the Program Assistant, and Rick travels around the state for his merchandising work with The Home Depot. They have enjoyed becoming even more involved with the Boston Jewish community over the last several years, especially with Havurah on the Hill, a young adults group that holds monthly services at the Vilna Shul.