United Hebrew Congregation will formally welcome its newest members on Friday, Jan. 20, when Patricia and Justin McCammon emerge from the mikveh and complete their conversions to Judaism.
They’re already familiar faces at the Temple, first attending Shabbat services in 2020 via Zoom during the height of the Covid pandemic.
Justin and Patricia, who have been together for 13 years and will celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary in June, entered formal study with Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and appeared before a rabbinic court, known as a beit din, on January 5.
Indianapolis Rabbi Jordana Chernow-Reader served as sponsor
That panel included sponsoring Rabbi Chernow-Reader and former UHC student rabbis Caitlin Brazner and Matt Derrenbacher. Once the McCammons passed that test, they scheduled their mikveh, or ritual bath, for Friday afternoon at Congregation B’nai Torah with Rabbi Chernow-Reader in Indianapolis.
Current Student Rabbi Rocki Schy invited Justin and Patricia to read their first aliyah during the Shabbat Torah service on January 6 at UHC.
Rocki recited their Hebrew names — Yael for Patricia and Akiva Hanan for Justin.
This Friday, they’ll separately complete the mikveh, reciting prayers and immersing three times in the bath at B’nai Torah while Rabbi Chernow-Reader monitors from behind a door.
They’ll Zoom in to UHC Shabbat services
“We’re going to dunk up there, dry off and then go to services [which start at 6 p.m. Fridays at IHC] so they can hold a formal presentation that evening,” Justin said. They’ll Zoom in at 7:30 p.m for UHC Shabbat services.
Before services, they’ll go out for a celebratory meal with their eldest child. Each brought two children to the marriage, ranging in ages from 14 to 27. “That will be our time together,” Patricia said.
“It’s almost like somebody wanting to become an American citizen. They might be living here, but there’s a certain pride that comes with actually being able to officially take on that identity.”
Justin said, “Everybody [at UHC] made us feel at home from the get go. We’re just happy to finally be official members” of the congregation.
Patricia said she’ll miss the formal classes, but looks forward to taking an active role with Justin at the Temple.
“It’s almost like somebody wanting to become an American citizen,” she said. “They might be living here, but there’s a certain pride that comes with actually being able to officially take on that identity.”
We present Patricia’s and Justin’s beit din essays here.
Patricia advised, then joined her husband's path
In late 2019, my husband, Justin, began studying sacred geometry and gematria. I found the topic interesting and would often engage in conversations with him.
Over the months that followed, I watched as his path began to align more with Judaism. Once I realized this was more than just a passing interest, I gave him the suggestion to convert.
While Justin embraced the idea, he also respected our agreement to never try and convert me. He knew this was his journey and his alone — even though I knew he wished I would join him.
Justin found a fit in an ever-changing world
If there is something greater than ourselves, what is it? How do we fit into the ever-changing world that surrounds us?
How can an individual find peace of mind, a center, a foundation from which to build and grow when they have no established place?
These questions went through my mind as I sought the answers over my life’s course.
This is a journey that encompasses personal beliefs, as well as causes one to question what they feel they already know.