Arva Gray

Becoming a Jew

“Not too long after my daughter Janet was born, I went to Rabbi Singer. And a friend of mine went too, and we talked to him about conversion. He said it would take about a year. So around 1956 we went every week for a couple of hours. I got to know him very well. We had books to read. I came in with a lot of questions.

“By that time, I was already involved with the Jewish community. I’d been on the Board of the Council of Jewish Women. I’d been secretary there. I’d been involved with a Jewish Day School that was established at Temple De Hirsch Sinai for children that had originally come from Holland through China and then settled in Seattle. I’d moved into a neighborhood of mostly Jewish people. I got to know the mothers. And naturally, we became very good friends. We called ourselves ‘The Girls.’ My kids wondered when I would stop calling them ‘girls.’ Oh, we played Canasta, we played Mah-jongg, we played Pan, we played Bridge. Anything. And mostly, it was a conversation club. Because we never gossiped.

“I learned Sephardic cooking. I think I was a ‘kitchen Jew’ before I converted. And I certainly knew how to make a quajado before I did anything else. It’s a spinach soufflé with feta cheese. It’s wonderful with fish. I’d always liked to cook, so it was fun.

“So I was converted to Judaism before I was president of the Jewish Family and Child Service. But I was accepted by most of the community as being Jewish. I guess I didn’t consider myself an outsider. I came into the community and was accepted by a certain group, and then eventually became accepted by the community. I was involved in the community. I felt fine. I’m home. This is where I belong.”


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Arva Davis Gray.
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Arva Gray." (Viewed on September 24, 2021) <>.


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