fbpx
Friday, September 18, 2020

It’s Never Too Late to Be a Ruth

Everyone at upstate New York’s small Temple Beth El knows Linda North as an active member of the Jewish community. The 70-year-old regularly attends services and celebrations with her husband, Bruce, supports her grandsons with their religious education and milestones, and pitches in at temple whenever she is needed.

What not everyone knew was that until May 24, North was not Jewish. She grew up as a non-practicing Christian. “My early experiences with organized religion consisted of my mother sending me and my two sisters to Sunday school when she needed a morning of peace and quiet,” North wrote in her congregation’s newsletter before her conversion. 

North wanted to belong to a religion, but just couldn’t seem to find the one that made ethical and intellectual sense to her and also touched her heart.

 “During my teens, I went to many different church youth groups with my friends. I was always seeking a religious home that felt right to me, but never found what I was looking for,” she also wrote in the newsletter. 

Like a modern-day Ruth, North found her tribe at Temple Beth El. Her first serious exposure to Judaism came in the form of her husband, Bruce, and whom she married in 1970. “I first started coming to temple after my son-in-law Matt and daughter Allison married and had children,” she wrote. “Bruce was already playing the cello for services on a regular basis. Since our grandsons … were being raised Jewish, we wanted to understand the importance of being Jewish in their lives. What we found was a welcoming spiritual community with teachings and values that matched our own. I found the peacefulness of Shabbat brought me a sense of joy that I had never experienced in another religious setting.”

“I want my grandchildren to know that I stand for them and that I stand with them as a member of the Jewish community.”

North’s official steps toward Judaism began after the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh in October, which had a profound impact on her. “It hurt me that I was not Jewish,” she said. “It made me know that I no longer wanted to be an outsider. For a long time, I have felt a spiritual connection to the practice of Judaism. I have attended services for several years and relate to the value and ethics and practice of social justice that are inherent in the teachings of Judaism. I want to be part of the community that stands for those things. I want my grandchildren to know that I stand for them and that I stand with them as a member of the Jewish community.”

At Shabbat services on May 24, North got her wish. Before Rabbi Norman Mendel began the words of welcome and official blessings, North’s husband surprised her with her own tallit, saying that if she was going to be a Jew she needed to dress like one. 

“We’re simply doing what’s already been a part of your life. You’re already a part of this congregation,” Mendel said as he faced North in front of the open ark. “You’re already a part of our spiritual family.”

Presenting her with a certificate acknowledging her study, Mendel then revealed North’s chosen Hebrew name to the congregation: Ruth. An apt choice for a woman who embraces her chosen religion as if she had been born to it.

“This is a beautiful moment,” Mendel said. “You are part of the very foundation of what makes Judaism, Judaism: thinking, questioning, involving, being socially just and impacting everyone you meet with that philosophy.” 

Said North: “I feel complete and joyous.”

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

A Moment in Time: 5781 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Dear all, As we approach the Jewish New Year of 5781, I think we can safely say that 5780 came with incredible challenges. I can’t...

Remembering the Life and Work of the Woman who Championed Women’s Rights: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

She died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

3 Holocaust Monuments Vandalized With Swastikas in Ukraine and Russia

Police are investigating the instances of vandalism.

Letters: 9/11 Commemoration, Spots and Activism, UAE

9/11 Commemoration “Grow, grow, grow,” we imagine angels whispering to every blade of grass. How much more so to every human soul. That kind of...

Kosovo to Adopt IHRA Definition of Anti-Semitism

“As a victim of genocidal actions & ethnic cleansing, [Kosovo] understands too well the weight of discrimination & hate.”

86 Jewish Groups Contest Leila Khaled’s SFSU Speaking Event

The groups sent a letter to the SFSU president asking if Khaled is legitimately protected under academic freedom.

‘A Wilderness of Error’ Revisits Infamous Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case

As recounted in journalist Joe McGinniss’ 1983 book and the subsequent miniseries “Fatal Vision,” MacDonald was convicted of the murders, but was he guilty?

When We Say ‘Shanah Tovah’ Let’s Remember ‘Shabbat Shalom’

The deep contemplation that Rosh Hashanah demands is enhanced by the Shabbat experience.

Culture

‘A Wilderness of Error’ Revisits Infamous Jeffrey MacDonald Murder Case

As recounted in journalist Joe McGinniss’ 1983 book and the subsequent miniseries “Fatal Vision,” MacDonald was convicted of the murders, but was he guilty?

‘The Get’ to Tell Story of Notorious Chasidic Rabbi

The show is based off a GQ article.

Novel’s Russian Jews Find Rough Going in Israel

The setting of “Jerusalem as a Second Language,” a new novel by Rochelle Distelheim (Aubade Publishing), harks back to a remarkable moment in history.

Personalizing Home Ritual With ‘HighHolidaysAtHome’

The team has developed guides and webinars. They're providing steps to invoke various aspects of the holidays as well as family memories. 

Apples of Hope for Rosh Hashanah

As a new year begins, we remember the hard times of recent months but also look forward to the future with a promise of new beginnings.

Latest Articles
Latest

A Moment in Time: 5781 Can’t Come Soon Enough

Dear all, As we approach the Jewish New Year of 5781, I think we can safely say that 5780 came with incredible challenges. I can’t...

Remembering the Life and Work of the Woman who Championed Women’s Rights: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87

She died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

3 Holocaust Monuments Vandalized With Swastikas in Ukraine and Russia

Police are investigating the instances of vandalism.

Letters: 9/11 Commemoration, Spots and Activism, UAE

9/11 Commemoration “Grow, grow, grow,” we imagine angels whispering to every blade of grass. How much more so to every human soul. That kind of...

Hollywood

‘Dirty Dancing’ Sequel Starring Jennifer Grey Announced

It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

Podcasts

A Rosh HaSchitt’s Creek Sameach to You!

How long has this pandemic been? This week we're giving a big Shofar Wave to 5780 as it exits the building, reviewing some Jewy...

Pandemic Times Episode 88: Words of Light for Rosh Hashanah

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. Excerpts of inspiring messages from community leaders. How do we manage our lives during the coronavirus crisis? How...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x