by Jim Billings, Mikveh Guide
Do you ever wonder where life might be taking you? Life’s journeys are usually full of ups and downs, twists and turns and paths unexpected, and sometimes we end up in the strangest of places.
Approximately 30 years ago I converted to Judaism. I said the Shema (a prayer that is a central component of morning and evening services); I read a little piece about what conversion meant to me; I was blessed by the rabbi; and then I was a Jew. Something was missing…but I didn’t know what. The intent was there even if the ritual was lacking.
Now here I am much further along on my journey, more twists and turns and, a Mikveh Guide. Yes, a Mikveh Guide. Who knew?
My journey has been a long one, from places where I never really knew what a Jew was, to a place where I now help others become Jews. My journey has always been one of intent, of purpose, but is still incomplete.
I had the honor of recently guiding for a man who was converting to Judaism. Neither his wife nor his mother were Jewish, but Sam (name has been changed) was going to be, with quiet Ruach (spirit) and more importantly with intent.
I asked Sam to look at the Seven Kavanot (intentions) for Mikveh Preparation and to think about what each Kavanah (intention) meant for him personally as he was preparing; just as he had discussed with the Beit Din (rabbinic court) the steps taken to reach this day.
“Dial 200 when you are ready. Take your time and we will be waiting for you…”
The phone rings…”I am ready”, he says. I gather the family and rabbis outside of the mikveh and I close the doors leaving them outside to listen, to hear the blessings as he reads them aloud. He entered the water something other, he left the water as a brand new Jew!
This was his day, yet it also felt like mine as this was my first solo shift as a Mikveh Guide. Sam was grateful for my being there, yet I was the one who felt honored!
My journey continues and my personal first immersion is coming…very soon!
Jim is one of Mayyim Hayyim’s newest Mikveh Guides. Born in England and raised in the Church of England, Jim converted to Judaism 30 years ago so he and his future wife could raise a Jewish family. Jim and his two boys, ages 16 and 22, are active members of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury. Jim is an active has been a part of many committees and is currently serving on the board.
Jim lives in Framingham and manages the construction of custom homes in the Greater Boston area. For fun he likes being outdoors, camping, kayaking, hiking and fishing and is an animal lover. Jim also enjoys choral singing and speaks two languages, English and American.