New converts at the Kotel
New converts at the Kotel PR photo

A special event was held Monday evening at the Kotel in the Old City of Jerusalem for some 500 Jewish converts from across Israel affiliated with the Ami Ulpan network.

The event, in honor of the upcoming holiday of Shavuot, celebrated the converts’ journey to Judaism. Shavuot, which marks the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people 3,000 years ago, is often referred to as “the converts’ holiday”.

The hundreds of converts were joined by Ami staff members and families who supported converts through the process, from Ulpan studies through the completion of the conversion process at a conversion court.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, the president of Ami who previously served as director of the state’s conversion authority, spoke at the gathering.

“This is a great generation for the Jewish people that is returning home. We see the vision of Israel’s prophets coming to fruition before our eyes.”

Rabbi Druckman addressed the new converts directly, citing a statement from the Talmud which describes how the souls of all future converts to Judaism were present at the giving of the Torah.

“The roots of your souls were at [the giving of the Torah at] Mount Sinai with all of Israel, you too are attached to the Torah,” he said, concluding his words by asking the congregation to join together in reciting “Shema Yisrael”.

At the event one couple shared their story to a number of participants still in the midst of the conversion process.

Mali, originally from Ecuador, met Noam in Thailand. The two fell in love and ultimately decided to get married. In the process, Mali decided to convert to Judaism, and turned to Ami for guidance.

“I wanted so badly to be Jewish,” said Mali. “The teachers just embraced me with love and helped me through the [conversion] process. When the [conversion court] judges told me they were accepting me into the Jewish people, I couldn’t hold back the tears, I was crying so hard.”

“This is the first time in my life I was in such a touching event,” said Anna, one of the participants. “What a magic and holy atmosphere there next to Mount Moriah [the Temple Mount], it was like a holy spirit encircling you… I couldn’t stop crying from the emotions [brought out] by all the things people were saying and from the sense of the holiness of the place. It was like you could breathe it. My soul was already there, buried deep within – and stays there forever.”