We had a Shabbat meal with a woman that will become Jewish shortly. In an earlier post, I called her Sarah. She told us a remarkable story, funny and inspiring, at the table, and I’ll repeat it, filling in some details.
Sarah’s family is expatriates of a Moslem country, and is itself nominally Muslim, though non-practicing. It’s been difficult for them to accept their daughter’s decision to become Jewish, but have accepted it and become supportive, especially her father.
Recently, a cousin of Sarah’s visited from the ‘old country’. The cousin, a teenager, is a devout Muslim. During this visit, the cousin couldn’t help but notice that Sarah had become more religious. When the family went out to eat, Sarah brought her own food. All of Sarah’s clothing is modest. When shopping with Sarah’s mother, she commented that a particular skirt would be ‘too short for Sarah’.
The cousin was impressed with Sarah’s religiosity, but had a few unanswered questions. She asked Sarah why she didn’t cover her head. Sarah replied that she would do that, too, eventually. Without confirming or denying, she allowed her cousin to draw her own conclusions. Finally, the cousin asked Sarah’s parents why she didn’t even eat dairy products that they had around the house. They informed the cousin that, indeed, Sarah was becoming more religious, but of the Jewish, not the Muslim, variety.
The surprised cousin replied, “If that’s what Jews are like, then why does my country hate Israel so much?”