Coverting to Judaism Just Came Naturally for Linda Goodman
It’s been an exciting year for Linda Goodman and her large extended family. Exciting? In this multi-year pandemic environment?
While it seems contrary to what we’ve all been experiencing, Linda turned her Zoom opportunities to special advantage and will officially convert to Judaism on on May 14, 2021, as Beth Or celebrates Shavout.
Working with Rabbi Robyn since last fall, and becoming a member of Beth Or’s Be Mitzvah program, Linda’s conversion, she thinks, ”is just the natural progression of things.”
“I’ve lived a Jewish life for the last 42 years,” she said. Our children and grandchildren are all Jewish. I’ve been keeping the Sabbath for decades, following all the other holiday traditions. It was just time and I’m really excited about it.”
Since the inception of the pandemic, to keep Shabbat alive and her family connected, Linda has been meeting via Zoom on Friday nights with her children and grandchildren to say the blessings over the candles, wine and challah.
“I learned how to make challah before last year’s High Holidays,” Linda said. “And I made challahs for Beth Or’s challah sale last year.”
When Linda and Larry married on October 27, 1979, Judaism was new to her. They joined Beth Or in 1989. Beth Or’s founding Rabbi “made it interesting” but Linda wasn’t ready at that point to convert. “Larry believed strongly in Judaism but wasn’t fervently religious per se. We learned more together as our children were educated and later became Bar and Bat Mitzvah.”
During Yom Kipper services last year “it all came together” for Linda.
“The services were such an inspiration, Linda said. “We were on Zoom but I realized during Yom Kipper services that I loved Judaism and I wanted to convert. I especially wanted to do it with Rabbi Robyn. I find her deeply inspirational and spiritual. She is positive, knowledgeable, supportive, and is a great teacher.”
In addition to her conversion classes with Rabbi Robyn, her enthusiastic membership in this year’s Beth Or Be Mitzvah class has also made an impact.
“It’s a great group of women. They are bright, funny and we have really connected,” she said. “And, my mother-in-law, Carol Goodman, is also in the class. It’s made it extra special. Jen Berse is a wonderful teacher. I’m even learning how to read Hebrew. I find that so exciting and rewarding.”
The conversion process has consisted of several facets and innovations due to COVID-19.
Rabbi Robyn and Linda have been meeting via Zoom. Zoom classes with Rabbi Robyn and the Be Mitzvah platform have deepened Linda’s Judaic connection. She has read several books including Anita Diamant’s book Living a Jewish Life, which she found highly motivational.
On a lighter note, in addition to making challah, she sincerely enjoys saying the prayers in Hebrew. “I have great joy in everything Jewish. Even the latkes I make that my family adores, give me joy.”
While not completely sure what every next step will be, Linda knows she and Rabbi Robyn will be visiting Matheson Hammock where she will go through a Mikvah ceremony. Subsequent to the Mikvah, Linda will appear before a Beth Din - a tribunal of three rabbis who will verify her conversion.
Linda will participate in the Beth Or May 14 Shabbat/Shavout service.
Linda also hopes in the not-to-distant future, she’ll have an opportunity to visit Israel. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Linda said.
Linda’s family members have all wished her well in her new adventure. Born a Methodist in San Antonio, Texas. She met Larry in college at the University of North Texas. After getting married, they moved briefly to Boston and then moved to Miami in 1981, to be closer to Larry’s family.
Larry’s untimely, and unexpected death, occurred on January 1, 2019. A beloved member of the Beth Or community, including serving two terms as President (1991-2001 and 2006-2008), he is sorely missed.
“My only regret is that Larry isn’t here to participate in this joyous moment. He’d be delighted,” Linda said.
Linda and Larry have 4 children, Aisha - Graham, Eli and Kaija and 4 grandchildren. One of her grandchildren, Leon, will be a Bar Mitzvah in June and Linda plans on giving him Larry’s tallit. The other grandchildren include Nalina, 16; Kyran, 9; and Auden, 6.
“All of the kids — children and grandchildren — are very happy about my decision,” Linda said. “And so are Larry’s siblings and his mom.”
Linda’s official conversion date - May 14 - holds extra special meaning. Linda recently bid her 93-year-old mom farewell with funeral services in Texas on April 17, 2021. Linda’s mom birthday was May 14th. And, not to be forgotten, modern Israel officially became a nation on May 14, 1948.
Israel, and her people, will welcome Linda into the Covenant of Judaism on May 14, 2021. Beth Or welcomes her with warm, outstretched arms.