Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
"Shalom Sivan, My name is Elena and I have been a Jew for one month. We hear a lot about the distress of business owners due to the corona, the distress of singers and entertainers, the distress of students. But it seems to me that no one speaks about the distress of those converting to Judaism. We have had to endure the cancellation of classes in Judaism, the recitation of prayers on ZOOM only, and lockdowns on holidays that we so much wanted to observe in the traditional way – through participation in large public prayer services.
Because of lockdowns and isolation, time after time I was unable to visit the wonderful host family that has accompanied me throughout this process. Yet these difficulties only strengthened my resolve and I felt a greater sense of self-sacrifice and desire to overcome every obstacle in my path. I saw that the corona could change the world, but not my decision. I exerted myself, invested every effort, finally stood before the Beit Din (rabbinical court), and joined the Jewish nation.
I am now fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting Hanukkah candles for the first time as a real Jew, and this is enormously symbolic for me. Judaism has brought tremendous light into my life - light that penetrates all my thoughts. I learned that there is a deeper reality and my vision is no longer confined to superficial impressions. In the past, as an Israeli only, I saw Hanukkah as a nice legend that included eating sufganiot and latkes but not much more. But now these days of Hanukkah are radiant with profound meaning – as an expression of Jewish culture, spirit, heroism, and eternal hope. It is said that we are supposed to take the light of Hanukkah and have it accompany us throughout year – to see more depth and meaning in everything around us thanks to the candles' penetrating light."
Thank you so much Elena, and welcome.