I found out someone is interested, so I’m starting this thread. Here’s my story:
I grew up Methodist, in what I think was a fairly conservative Methodist church (there are a lot of different kinds of Methodists- George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton are both Methodists, just to give an example). The pastor in the church I went to as a kid liked talking about end-times stuff, which really scared me.
I remember thinking around the time I was eight or nine, "There are all these religions in the world, how do we know which one is right? I went to church every Sunday during the school year (my mom insisted, and I didn’t want to start a major family battle over it), but when I was a teenager, I realized I just didn’t believe in Christianity. I tried for a while to convince myself to believe, but failed. I never went to church again after I moved out to go to college (we had never gone to church in the summer, so it wasn’t a big deal when I was home on breaks).
I didn’t go to any religious services of any kind during college, though I was still trying to find a religious identity for myself. I tried being an atheist, but I realized I didn’t believe that any more than I had been able to believe in Christianity.
When I was visiting grad schools (5th year of college), I met Mr. Neville, who is Jewish. I started going out with him and learning about Judaism from him. I liked what I saw (both Judaism and Mr. Neville). I eventually converted in 2003, a few months before Mr. Neville and I got married. Before I could convert, I had to manage to convince myself that I wasn’t just doing this because I was marrying a Jewish guy- I had to come to the realization that I would want to do it even if I weren’t marrying Mr. Neville. A lot of people do convert to Judaism just because they’re marrying a Jew, but I would have felt hypocritical for doing that.
I specifically converted into Conservative Judaism. That’s what Mr. Neville and his family are. I thought long and hard about converting Orthodox, so more people would think of me (and my eventual children) as Jewish. I decided against that- Mr. Neville and I weren’t going to live an Orthodox lifestyle, and my personal beliefs align more with non-Orthodox Judaism (I don’t believe the Torah was dictated to Moses by God, for example), so I decided that converting Orthodox would make me a hypocrite.
Although we’re not Orthodox, we do live an observant Conservative lifestyle- we keep kosher and try to keep the Sabbath, though not in an Orthodox way (I have my own standards of what constitutes “work”, which is not the same as the Orthodox ones). We celebrate Jewish holidays and don’t celebrate Christian ones.
My family’s not thrilled, but they live with it. They love Mr. Neville, and that helps. Religion has always been a topic we never discussed in my family, so other than when I told them I was converting (and when I remind them what we can and can’t eat, because we keep kosher), we don’t really discuss it. My mom does send us Hanukkah presents rather than Christmas ones, and sends us a Hanukkah card or a non-religious holiday card. I anticipate a few more conflicts when we have kids (as we eventually plan to) and raise them Jewish.
Questions? I’ll be here off and on over the next few days (I do think it’s OK to post on a holiday, but we’ll be spending a fair bit of time at services), but I will try to answer.