Interviewed by the Jewish Magazine Staff
Ahuva Gray was born in Chicago and made a long journey to Jerusalem. She is a black woman who converted to Judaism and has written a book "My Sister, the Jew" about her various experiences that led up to, and as she underwent, a drastic change in her life, - going through a conversion process, becoming an orthodox Jew.
She explains that she had been a minister for fourteen years and durring her studying she became aware of many discrepancies in the texts that she studied. This began a process of searching for the truth. Eventually she came upon Judaism and subsequently saw that the teaching in Judaism were the correct teachings. As she began studying the Jewish texts, she began realizing the inherent truth in the Torah.
She worked as a travel agent in Los Angeles and became friends with a young religious couple who advised her to visit Israel. She came, and kept coming. This she felt was to be her home.
Since converting, she has lived in the Bayit Vegan section of Jerusalem for the past eight years. She says that living in Israel is like living with family. There is a special cohesiveness about the Jews in Israel. Many times she is so busy writing her books that she doesn't have time to cook. While writing her book, many of her friends would send over left over cholent and chicken soup which enabled her to continue working with out distraction. With out their kind help, she doubts that she could have completed her book in the time frame that was given.
She studied in Israel to become a tour guide, so she has visited every part of the country. This increased her love of the land of Israel. Unfortunately tour business is down so she makes a living giving lectures in the States, Canada, Australia, England, and Hong Kong.
Is being black and an orthodox Jew problematic? She says that since she came to Israel, she never had any problems with her black skin. Just the opposite, she reports that she has always been treated very nicely. She studied at various schools in Jerusalem to become knowledgeable in her new Judaism. Her family in the States was very supportive of her conversion.
What seems to pain her the most in Judaism is the warring factions in Judaism. She feels that this is a serious problem and the solution is that each person must work upon himself. Many Jews have many misconceptions about the other's groups. Since she lectures at many diverse Synagogues and Temples, she picks up many points of problems in Judaism. One of the most common misconceptions is the role of women in Judaism. Most people seem to feel that religious women are oppressed, and that Judaism is really a man's world.
She feel that just the opposite seems to be true. It is the Jewish woman who seems to be in charge of running the Jewish home. They are in charge of a great aspect of their children, raising up new Jewish souls. This is in addition to their very busy schedule, they have a very heavy responsibility.
Happy in her role as a Jewess, she feels that Jews must come to know each other more. Misconceptions of what Jews are must be broken and that we must come to know each other on a personal level and not assume our knowledge of each other based on group identities are correct. They often give lead to false and negative conceptions.
What is the solution to the many problems that we face? She seems to feel that it is out of our hands. The intense problems that we have endured in the past two and half years shows that the total solution can not be reached by human help. Perhaps the answer is the messiah, she says.
She is presently working on her second book, a collection of short stories about travel experiences and concepts of Jewish prayer.
Her book is available via her website at www.mysisterthejew.com