Orthodox conversion is all about judgment. Before you even get in the door, your sponsoring Rabbi will pass judgment on your fitness as a potential member of the Jewish people. The community that you live in will scrutinize you, judging your every move, or lack thereof. You'll eventually get judged by the Beis Din, and if you are doing the whole process right, you should be constantly judging yourself, your motives, and your drive. All of this, I knew when I signed up; I knew that I would be examined completely by just about every Jewish person that I could meet. And I'm ok with this. I understand why, to some extent, my non-observant Jewish
friends give me the third degree. I have no problem sharing my story with any old stranger around the shabbos dinner table. Sure that person may not be officially weighing in with the Beis Din, but you never know who is related to who.
There is one type of judging that I really wasn't prepared for, that I have only encountered now that I am knee-deep in the process. You see, I'm judging all the other women who are converting, and I know they are all judging me. I know, I know, we should all be super supportive of each other, we should be empowering each other as we go through this most difficult, most emotional time. But really, how am I going to know where I am, if I don't use you as a frame of reference. You see, maybe you are further along then I am, then I can see you as an inspiration, something to aspire to. More likely though, I'm scrounging through your facebook profile to see how much cleavage you are showing, how many men you are touching, and how many times you are wearing pants. Or I'm smirking at the fact that my motives are pure and you and your boyfriend, certainly are anything but pure. Or maybe I'm just thinking that its a shame that you actually made it through the process, because you obviously weren't ready for the mikveh. And I'm sorry that I'm doing it, but I can't help it. Your silly questions, your mistakes, your confusion makes me feel like I finally, just a little bit, might have some idea as to what I'm doing.
I guess my only consolation is knowing that you are probably out there judging me too. Maybe you think I'm too machmir, maybe you think my politics are too liberal, maybe you think my skirts are too short, or too long, or I wear too much makeup, or not enough. Who knows what you think. But I know you are out there judging me. I'm sure after reading this you are thinking, "I hope they never let her convert, she isn't a good candidate". But the truth is that you aren't on my Beis Din, and I'm not on yours. And this is for the best I suppose. Because if I was in charge, no one would make it through. At least thats where I am right now. But the great thing is that this is a process, and as much as I am judging you, I'm judging myself. I'm working on it, I'm trying be a better person, and maybe, just maybe I'll know that I'm finally ready for the mikveh when my compassion outweighs my condemnation.