Kim Phillips (Summer '06) is a marketing professional,
artist, writer and teacher in Nashville, Tennessee.
One Shabbat morning, the rabbi entered Torah study and, instead of launching into the text, looked intensely around the circle of people gathered there. “I want to know how you feel about Israel,” she said. “However you feel is fine, but you have to say.” When it became clear that we would be expected to speak in turn, I started to sweat. I had only converted to Judaism weeks before, and the ground underneath my feet had not stopped shifting.
Jews are generally expected to support Israel, but we’re not often asked to declare our exact positions publicly. In fact, many born Jews are not pinned down on the subject and asked to pledge loyalty to Israel the way converts are. I have always-Jewish friends whose opinions about the place range from “Meh” to hard-right Zionism.
To the rabbi’s question, I answered that I didn’t feel qualified to comment, as I had not yet set foot in Israel. That may seem like a dodge, but it was true and it planted the seed in me, the desire to go to Eretz Yisrael. I continued my Jewish studies, became a Hebrew teacher and Continue reading