In first person… I arrived Episcopalian, and came home to Judaism

In February 1999, I arrived in Israel with 50 other Episcopalians on a Lenten pilgrimage. Because of that trip, I came "home" and became a Jew. Little did I know how HaShem would answer my prayer that this trip would help me become more spiritually connected.

Landing at Ben-Gurion, I wanted to kneel and kiss the ground. I truly felt I had come home. Everywhere we went, I kept asking myself, "Why don't I just leave this group and go to Safed, to Rabbi Akiva's tomb, to Bar-Kochba's tomb…?"

Arriving in Jerusalem late Friday afternoon, I was stunned by the experience of Shabbat in Israel. To see a whole city, everyone — secular or religious — take the day off was so powerful.

Everything about Israel spoke to my soul, my spirit. When I came back to the States, all I wanted was to get back on the plane and go "home." My yearning for Israel, for Hebrew and for Judaism was overwhelming. I soon realized I could not deny this longing. I began studying Hebrew, using children's books from the library. In July I began observing Shabbat, and in August I started attending shul at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa.

In November 2000, at the age of 60, I went to the mikvah and became the Jew that Israel had called me to be. At my beit din (rabbinical court), one of the rabbis said, "Welcome home," and I was.