The question I am asked most often is why I converted to Judaism. It is not an easy question to answer other than to say that I have always felt Jewish. Since I can remember I have been drawn to Jewish people, entertainers and practices. I began exploring Judaism further when I moved to Denver, Colorado and lived in a Jewish neighborhood. In the neighborhood was a Judaica store and one day I went in and asked the woman behind the counter for a good book to read if one wanted to know more about Judaism. She suggested the book To Be a Jew by Hayim Donin.
I began reading the book and learning about Jewish rituals and practices. I began implementing some of the practices in my life. In order to read the Torah I had to walk five miles to the library downtown, which I began doing several days a week. Besides reading the Torah I also began losing weight from the miles I was walking everyday culminating in my losing 100 pounds. Although I was reading about Judaism I had not yet been to a synagogue or talked with a rabbi.
One of the practices I implemented in my life was to make sure everyone was fed. I volunteered a couple of days a week at a food bank as a social worker who provided clients with local resources for all of their needs. One day I woke up to find it had snowed heavily the night before. I left early to walk the 7 miles to the foodbank, a distance at the time I was use to traveling by foot. The food bank closed at 5PM and when I left it was dark. Dressed in a wool sweater and coat I began the 7 mile walk back home.
As I walked along the bicycle path the temperature began to drop. That night it was around zero degrees. I had just moved to a part of town I still was not real familiar with. After walking for quite a while I realized there were no longer streetlights in view. I was lost. The cold began to make me shiver uncontrollably. In the snow and the dark the local terrain looked much different than it did during the day light. I turned around and began retracing my steps to see if I could figure out where I had gone wrong on my journey home. As I walked along the path my shivering got worse. I did not have a phone, there were still no street lights and I had not seen anyone else along the path. My teeth were chattering and my entire body was shaking. I thought I might freeze to death if I did not find the way home soon. Finally I saw lights and a path that led to a street. It happened to be my street and I made it home alright.
When I got home I got in the shower and stood under the warm water until it ran cold. I got into bed with warm blankets and covers but I was not able to truly feel warm for a few days afterwards. The near death experience motivated me to seek out a synagogue. There was one not too far away and the following day I called a rabbi to schedule a meeting with him.