Thank-you for visiting my website. I am a recent convert to Judaism. Here is my story:
After my marriage fell apart and my immigration application was denied, I found myself illegally in the country. Displaced and not knowing what to do, I prayed, because I was out of options and it seemed like the only logical thing to do at the time. And believe it or not, shortly after I met a still photographer who was 24-years older than me, who helped me. Perhaps the praying was unrelated. I don’t know. Regardless, life moved forward and I moved all the way to Lake Arrowhead where I lived out the years of my legal non-existence as a mountaineer or a hippy. But after my immigration application was successfully appealed after almost three years, my life didn’t just immediately return to normal. I suppose it was never normal or stable to begin with and so old and new problems surfaced – abusive relationships, struggles with employment, alcoholism, poverty and because that wasn’t enough – the suicide of the photographer who helped me. I was a hot mess in a full on existential crisis and with the amount that I was drinking and blacking out/passing out, you could’ve easily mistaken me for the female version of Charles Bukowski. Even though I was miserable and had no self-respect or self-love, I still cared enough about restoring my life that I chose to go to Alcoholics Anonymous to get help. It was a difficult confrontation with reality. I felt humiliated and pathetic. Despite that I stemmed from a peasant Polack immigrant family that was pretty dysfunctional, I still had pride, and that old school European rhetoric, I’m college educated. This should not be happening to me, kept reverberating through my head. But I stuck it out. I stopped drinking and I discovered spirituality in the process. I was reacquainted with the notion of faith because a huge part of AA is based on good ole simple faith or the higher power, as per the actual reference. Shortly after, I met a guy who was Jewish and after he introduced me to Shabbat, I was inspired to study Judaism since I was already on the spiritual path and eventually I converted.
I am currently writing my memoir, Becoming Jewish, and my hope is that I can make some sort of a difference, even if it’s mild, even if I just affect one person. As someone who was born in Poland, which is a country that has an unresolved history with Jews following the Holocaust, I’d love to help lessen the perpetuation of anti-Semitism and break down some of the negative stereotypes that exist. I feel like there is a lack of general understanding about Judaism in the mainstream. To me Judaism has been the greatest gift. It has given me a foundation on which to build my life. At the core of Judaism is a concept known as Tikkun Olam (Hebrew for “world repair”) – the goal is to make the world a better place. I love that about Judaism. It gives me something to aspire to; and it’s helped me define my philosophy for living. How can you lead a successful life when you don’t know what you stand for or believe in? As someone who came from a chaotic unstructured childhood, Judaism has given me a template on which to create my life. There was a time it was questionable whether I’d even get to keep my life for very much longer because I treated it like a game of Russian Roulette. But here I am with my principles and values (mostly, ha!) intact, thanks to AA and thanks to Judaism. I made it! I’m here…and for that I’m truly grateful.
Thank-you for listening…and keep your eye out for my memoir, Becoming Jewish…coming soon(ish).
Eva Kowalski xo