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Meet Camila, a New Member of our Tribe - MTA

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

MTA is a Yeshiva/Midrasha based Israel year program for participants from the Southern Hemisphere. World Bnei Akiva has partnered with four incredible institutions Midreshet Harova, Machon Maayan, Yeshivat Eretz Hatzvi and Yeshivat Har Etzion, where participants can soak up Torat Eretz Yisrael! Outside of yeshiva, they experience Israel through seminars, Shabbatonim and tiyulim as well as kibbutz and a life-changing journey to Poland.

Hello! my name is Camila.

I was born to South American parents in England and have been living in Perth, Australia since I was 11. This year, I began my shnat year in Israel in the best way possible--I converted on the 10th of February ,9th of Adar Rishon. I was raised as a Protestant Christian by my parents who had themselves been raised Catholic. However, my family struggled with the idea of the divinity of Jesus and so entered into many debates with the church we were attending with regards to the Trinity. Around 4 years ago we left the Seventh Day Adventist Church and looked for options of other churches that didn't believe that Jesus was God. After many failed attempts of finding a church that fit our principles and many home bible studies searching for proof against this Christian belief, we ended up in a small group of Christians who practiced some Jewish traditions such as Chagim without denying that Jesus was the messiah. After being in the group for approximately one year, the topic of the divinity of Jesus arose again, and so did the debates. After much arguing, one of the men who belonged to the group told my parents, "Even the Jews believe Mashiach is going to be God". In that moment my parents realised they should be learning more about Judaism from Jews and not Christians. We left that group and began doing our own study and research. My Mum came across an anti-missionary rabbi named Rabbi Tovia Singer who has a radio show that goes through all of Tanakh showing how pasukim are manipulated by Christians and used in the wrong context to prove the Jesus agenda. My Mum was convinced these videos were important so she showed my Dad who, after some doubt agreed to start watching more of the Rabbi's videos. Finally, my parents came to my sister and I and asked what we thought, always making it clear that the decision was up to us and that they weren't forcing us to make any decision. After much thinking and studying my sister and I joined my parents, and began researching more about Judaism and watching Rabbi Singer's videos as well as Rabbi Skobac's. Finally, around 2 years ago, my family was convinced that Judaism was the right religion and we begun the process of finding out how to convert. My Dad eventually got an interview with the Rabbi of the Perth community after 3 months of trying to reach him. He first had an interview telling him we wanted to convert and then the entire family was interviewed. The Rabbi agreed to begin the process with us and just as the process was starting, my sister and I moved from out public secular school to the only Jewish school in Perth. The community was amazing, inviting us for countless Shabbatot and we tried our best to rent Airbnb apartments whenever we could to be able to go to Shul for Shabbat and Chagim. Our lives changed so quickly. We started attending Bnei Akiva and other youth activities run by the Shul. We finally moved into the Eruv in April of 2021, so we could go to shul every Shabbat which made life easier. Then the time came for me to start looking into gap year programs. Midreshet Harova told me they'd accept me on the basis that I'd be converted at the beginning of 2022. A plan was made for the Sydney Beit Din to finish the process in February a few days before I'd have to leave for Israel, as Perth does not have a Beit Din. However, the borders which were supposed to open on the 5th of February stayed closed and desperation swept over would we do the Mikva without the Beit Din? After many anxious days and attempts by my Rabbi to find a way to do it, it was decided that I'd take the oral test on Zoom 3 days before I left and that I'd Mikva as soon as I landed in Israel, without my family. I was shocked but I knew that everything happens for a reason and put my faith in HaShem that this was for the best. I passed my test and couldn't stop crying, relieved! Then, I landed in Israel on the 9th of February. We went to Ayelet HaShachar and the next morning, drove 3 hours south to Har Nof for the final step. In the presence of four of my closest friends, my Rabbi's sister and a Beit din, I converted on the 10th of February. I was overjoyed, I emerged from the Mikva a new person, ready to serve HaShem, practising the right religion and one I'd spent the last year and a half falling in love with. The ensuing weeks were a joy.

Four weeks after me, my father and sister were able to convert in Perth as the borders finally opened after 697 days of being closed. But even then, my mum couldn't convert with them because she had gone away to Brazil to see family, so a few weeks later she finished the process in Sydney. My parents thought it was essential for me to be there for their special moment...their wedding. I flew home to rejoin my family to be part of the ceremony of my parent's commitment to each other and HaShem. For the first time the four of us were together, all Jews after such a long journey. HaShem guided our every step and although it didn't seem like anything was going right, He was in charge the whole time and everything was perfect. As my Dad said in his wedding speech, our walk through the desert was over and now we finally entered the land of Israel, being part of Am Israel!

Zechariah 8:23 ~ כֹּ֥ה אָמַר֮ ה׳ צְבָאוֹת֒ בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֔מָּה אֲשֶׁ֤ר יַחֲזִ֙יקוּ֙ עֲשָׂרָ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֔ים מִכֹּ֖ל לְשֹׁנ֣וֹת הַגּוֹיִ֑ם וְֽהֶחֱזִ֡יקוּ בִּכְנַף֩ אִ֨ישׁ יְהוּדִ֜י לֵאמֹ֗ר נֵֽלְכָה֙ עִמָּכֶ֔ם כִּ֥י שָׁמַ֖עְנוּ אֱלֹהִ֥ים עִמָּכֶֽם׃ "Thus said the LORD of Hosts: In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold—they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of his cloak and say, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'"


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