Hester Hollander – Human & Campus Resource
My Journey from Tisha B’av to Tisha B’av and beyond…
Aptly, this was the heading I used for the essay I had to submit to the Bet Din before I was given a date to appear in front of them for my conversion to Judaism. It felt like I was compiling my thesis for a doctorate… I continue writing this essay on a daily basis.
When converting one generally has to experience a full year of events and high holidays. My journey at Beit Emanuel started in May 2010, just after Shavuot, hence my title used, referring to the very next high holiday that I experienced – Tisha B’Av.
When looking back I am overwhelmed by the pride of my family, mentors and friends, in how far I have come and more so in whom I have become. Becoming Jewish was not only a choice, it was a lifestyle adjustment. The knowledge that I have acquired I gladly impart on my beautiful daughter and I lovingly share it with my devoted husband and my ever supportive mother- in- law. I am also proud to travel this journey with fellow “pilgrims” still nomads on the lonely road of conversion and those who have victoriously crossed the “winning line”.
I have been assigned the portfolio of Human and Campus Resource. In a nutshell, I endeavour to ensure that our staff are heard and looked after. One of my great mentors pertinently used an example of a motor car. Pretend you’re driving a vehicle and in your rearview mirror you notice an object flapping outside the window. You turn around enquiring as to what it is? The reply is that it is just a safety belt. The safety belt is your harness and its purpose is to keep you safe. You look down and notice yet another object and once again enquire about its purpose – only to be informed that it is just a tyre. Without this tyre the motor vehicle will not move.
The moral of the story is that collectively we are all one and of equal importance in the longevity of Beit Emanuel’s existence.
When Rabbi Jacobs, at the Bet Din, enquired about my favourite prayer, and I now understand why, without a moment’s hesitation I answered: “the Shema”.