By Boaz Arad, Beijing
He was a huge television star, an actor, and a popular radio broadcaster, but Andrew Lim always felt as though something was missing. Then, one day, he saw the light – in Judaism.
But Lim, father of three and one of Singapore’s best-known celebrity faces, is not just another converted star. The product of a religious Catholic home, he used to attend church every Sunday as a young man.
Lim knew almost nothing about Judaism until he happened to arrive in Israel as part of a sight-seeing tour, in order to witness firsthand the sights he had read of so many times in the New Testament.
His visit to the Western Wall was the turning point. “I wanted to place a note in the Wall like the rest of the tourists, and to say a small prayer. I draped a praying shawl over myself because it seemed like the right thing to do to get the full experience.
“Suddenly a Jew with a long beard came up to me and asked me where my tefillin were. I told him I don’t have any because I wasn’t a Jew, but he just smiled and murmured a blessing, and told me: ‘You’re a Jew’.”
When Lim went back to Singapore he discovered Jewish blood did indeed run in his family. He began reading up on the religion online, memorized the Bible, learned about the customs, and ended up falling in love.
Lim finally worked up the courage to spill his guts before the local rabbi. “The first question he asked me was why, in God’s name, did I want to become a Jew,” Lim recounted. “I told him, you have a great party going on here and I want to join.”
Lim’s wife, then pregnant with their firstborn, was taken aback. “She comes from a very Christian family,” he explains. “I told my wife that if she didn’t like it I would stop. She took some time to think, investigated the Jewish religion for herself, and arrived at the conclusion that she liked it, too.”
Lim’s parents were very supportive, but his in-laws were less than thrilled. “But they’ve learned to accept it,” he said. “Though there are many people we used to call our friends, who have broken from us.”
Lim, or Eliyahu Abraham as he is now called in Hebrew, converted to Judaism in Australia together with his wife and children. He kept his day job – a radio broadcaster – and in his free time runs his local Beit Chabad’s Torah studies. He dreams of coming to Israel once again, this time with his family, to see where it all began.