Jewish Convert

Tom Leopold

Tom Leopold is a comedy writer who lives in New York City with his lovely wife Barbara and their two daughters.

My name is Tom Leopold and I’m a comedy writer (Seinfeld, Cheers, Will and Grace...). I am a Jewish comedy writer, although I always felt saying that was kind of redundant. So much of my humor — practically all of it I suppose— comes from who my people are, what they’ve been through and how they were able to turn it all on its head and find the funny side, even and especially if there was none to find.

I know it sounds odd, but I always liked Jesus. I was never “deep” enough to wrestle with the concept of his being the son of God. For me he had this James Dean-Bob Dylan-daring rebel-hero “thing” about him. Once in a while, I did wonder, had I been nearby when Jesus walked among us, would I have had seen him for who he said he was? And, if so, would I have had the courage to say “Hey, everybody says we’re waiting on the Messiah. Well, the ‘wait’ is over!” Fast forward two thousand years later and I’d follow Jesus anywhere if he’d have me.

Come Easter I’ll still be a comedy writer, but a Catholic one. I consider my upcoming baptism a blessing. One that ranks right up there with the day I met my wife or the birth of our two daughters, to say nothing of having the good fortune to have made a living in a business that I love.

So here is a flashback of how I became Catholic.

We’re a couple of years into my youngest daughter’s life-threatening eating disorder. It also happens to be Christmas Eve and our girl is under doctors’ care at still another rehab center. This one is in the Arizona desert. By the time we had come to this point our ravaged little fourteen-year-old had been too ill to attend any but three weeks of her 9th grade school year, she had spent days locked in a psych ward, and both she and I were nearly run over by a cab as I tried to catch up to her after she’d bolted from a doctor’s office.

So, we’re in the desert, it’s Christmas Eve and my wife, our oldest girl (17) and I are decorating our hotel room with Christmas stuff from the only store still open in the little desert town, the Dollar Store. We are all Jewish, but for some reason we’ve always celebrated Christmas too. There was something kind of sacred about the silly little tree we bought...It reminded me of the tree Charlie Brown dragged back to his gang.

The doctors would only let us have our daughter for Christmas Day, so the three of us went to bed early, each trying not to let the others know how sad we were that one of us was missing. Lying there in the dark that night was the closest I have ever come to breaking — not breaking down, breaking! It’s a whole lot easier to hold your heart together when it’s you who does the suffering, but when it’s your child and nobody can fix her...Well, it would take more than a comedy writer to say it how it feels.

I was praying before the thought dawned on me that I was praying. Maybe begging is the better word... “Please God, give me even the smallest sign you’re up there, I just can’t make it alone!”

The next morning we’d arranged for our girls to go horseback riding, and my wife and I took a walk in the desert. Out of nowhere this cool old guy drives up in a motorcycle he made himself...It had antlers for handlebars and the guy looked like the old Marine that he turned out to be. He skidded up next to us, practically popping a wheelie, and started talking. I’m a New Yorker, so I just figured he was just one more weirdo...But the guy had this great intensity and a mysterious charisma.

He started a long monologue about how he was once married to a woman named “Shepard” and how his present wife brought him to Christ at the age of 33, and all the while he keeps nodding his head towards me and saying to my wife “This one knows what I’m talking about!”

Here we were, on Christmas morning in the desert, and this odd old character is throwing the word “Shepard” around along with the number 33. “Wasn’t Jesus a ‘Shepard’ to his flock and wasn’t he 33 when he was crucified and isn’t this day, his birthday?!” As I’m thinking of this, the old guy keeps telling my wife that I know what he means! And the weird thing is I do, kind of, know what he means! Not what he’s saying but what he means...

My cell phone rings. It’s our kids. They’re through with their ride. Without even knowing who’s on the other end of the phone our desert prophet says “Hang up, they’re fine!” I hung up. After the exhaustion of all we’d been through, it felt nice to be, well, led!

He finally stops talking, guns his engine and peels off only to stop a few yards away, turn back to me and say in a voice somewhere below a whisper and above mental telepathy that “God is watching you!” It wasn’t a threat, it was a reassurance.

There were more things like that. Coincidences? I no longer think so. But the biggest and most rewarding was the day I ran into Father Jonathan Morris.

Thirty-eight years ago I went to a psychic down in Nolita (North Of Little Italy) who pretty much predicted my entire career path...I wasn’t even a writer at the time. Out of the blue I had this idea to reconnect with him and, to my amazement, he remembered me right away. Our daughter had gotten a little better after her last treatment but was falling back again even though she was now strong enough to attend school. I thought I’d go visit Frank (my old psychic) just to check in and tell him how right he had been about all that’s happened to me and to ask if he saw a recovery for our daughter. Frank told me to bring her to him. A few days later we did. Walking up the steps to Frank’s townhouse, a car pulls up right in front of us and out steps Father Jonathan Morris. I recognized him from a picture in his book, “The Promise.” The book dealt with grief and I was getting a great deal of comfort from it. Suddenly the very same, kind, face was right before me.

“Are you Father Morris?”
He nodded.
“Your book is on my bed stand.”
He had already started towards me. He had his hand out.
Why I said what I said next I will never know.
“ Father, do you think you might have a few minutes to talk to me sometime?”

I had seen and admired Father Morris many times on television but thought he lived in Rome. He smiled, holding on to my hand and said: “You can find me right here.” He turned and pointed to Old Saint Patrick’s Church. It was as if I hadn’t even seen the church until he pointed to it. He had just started as parochial vicar there...True to his word he found time for me and room for my family in his prayers. He even met with our daughter.

I don’t think there’s room now to describe all I found “right here” at Old Saint Pat’s. The minute Father Morris took my hand I knew I’d be a follower of Christ. Does my daughter still suffer? She does, we all still do, but now I feel the Lord’s grace. We are not alone.

Happy Easter!

-Tom Leopold

Tom Leopold is one of the elect in the Archdiocese of New York. He has participated in the RCIA program there and will be baptized during the Easter Vigil 2011. Tom's story was first released via the USCCB Blog. Posting on whyimcatholic.com used with permission of the author.

If you have found this story helpful in your spiritual journey we hope you will consider sharing it. Have feedback or would like to share your story? Email us at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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48 comments

  • Comment Link Angela Santana Friday, 22 April 2011 21:09 posted by Angela Santana

    Wow! What an amazing story of God working in someone's life. God bless you, Tom, and I'm so glad to hear that you're a brother in the Church. Welcome home!

  • Comment Link Alexander MacDonald truefix@wowway.com Friday, 22 April 2011 23:16 posted by Alexander MacDonald truefix@wowway.com

    Wow Amazing story!

    I love when someone shares such a graceful life experience! Mr. Leopold you and your family just made my Good Friday even better! I will pray for your family to keep strong in the face of adversity...Your daughter now holds a special place in my heart, and hopefully through prayers ans devotions she can find comfort.

    Happy Easter To The Leopold Family!

  • Comment Link elena Friday, 22 April 2011 23:16 posted by elena

    I found this witness profoundly moving. I too have had experiences, especially during times of confusion which one might call "coincidence" but when I look back I see how dearly loved I have been by God, how like Jacob I have wrestled and He has sought me. God Bless you, Tom and your family, and I will pray for the complete healing of your daughter. I have enjoyed your comedy! May you always find support and grace through the Church on your journey.

  • Comment Link jeff Friday, 22 April 2011 23:23 posted by jeff

    wow

  • Comment Link Daniel Colgan Saturday, 23 April 2011 03:57 posted by Daniel Colgan

    Coincidences? I think not.

  • Comment Link Cynthia Saturday, 23 April 2011 13:12 posted by Cynthia

    I will say a prayer for you and your family at our Easter Vigil tonite. Welcome Home Tom! God Bless you & your family!

  • Comment Link Tom Leopold Saturday, 23 April 2011 14:05 posted by Tom Leopold

    I want to thank everyone who put us in their prayers! You are in ours as well-Tom Leopold

  • Comment Link Tony de New York Saturday, 23 April 2011 14:36 posted by Tony de New York

    Welcome home!

  • Comment Link Virginia Heim Saturday, 23 April 2011 15:33 posted by Virginia Heim

    Tom,Welcome,welcome,welcome.How wonderful you found God.I'' be praying for you as receive the body of Christ.Prayers for your two daughters and wife.God Bless.Virginia

  • Comment Link Alicia Saturday, 23 April 2011 20:59 posted by Alicia

    What a pleasant story to share, THANK YOU and WELCOME!!

    "May the word of God strengthen you
    May the word of God nourish you,
    May the word of God comfort you all your life"

  • Comment Link Kelly Wahlquist Saturday, 23 April 2011 21:58 posted by Kelly Wahlquist

    Wow. Thanks for sharing your journey. Know you will be in my family's prayers at tonight's Easter vigil and throughout the Easter season! Too bad the 80's made the word "awesome" a catch all adjective, because it is truly awesome when we see that God has a plan, and even more awesome when we see how we fit into His plan of sheer goodness. The beauty of the Jewish roots of Catholicism is astonishing. I once heard Rosalind Moss say of her conversion that now she was a "Jew to the fullest potential." (That might have been right after she said we all have a beautiful Jewish mother, Mary.) Tom, you are very blessed in the journey you have been on and it appears God has a plan for you to share with others the joy of knowing the Messiah. Welcome home!

  • Comment Link Edgar Saturday, 23 April 2011 22:12 posted by Edgar

    Watta Great Story on finding Christ!
    Love it and GOD really knows when and what way a non-believer will finally find achrist!

    PRAISE YOU OH JESUS!

  • Comment Link matt ~ a fellow elect Saturday, 23 April 2011 22:54 posted by matt ~ a fellow elect

    God bless you and your family sir.

  • Comment Link Tod Saturday, 23 April 2011 23:37 posted by Tod

    God Bless You, Tom. I converted last year. Dig deep into the thinkers and read Maisie Ward's biography on Chesterton... You are among a great community! Congratulations!

  • Comment Link David Sykes Sunday, 24 April 2011 17:36 posted by David Sykes

    Mr. Leopold. I'm so happy for you. Thank You for sharing your story. I once heard somone use the term "God-incidences" instead of co-. This sound like one of those. May God Bless you and your family. Welcome home!

  • Comment Link mj Tuesday, 26 April 2011 23:04 posted by mj

    "The signs are there if you choose to see them"... what a powerful story Tom, of a father's love to hold his family together.

  • Comment Link Giovanna Thursday, 28 April 2011 02:31 posted by Giovanna

    I'm a cradle Catholic, but I never forget my Jewish roots. In fact, my small church group goes to Temple once a year!
    Rabbi Meltzer loves us! We've even attended a Seder Dinner.
    If you want to fully understand the connection between Judaism and Christianity... Read "The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist" by Brian Pitre, Ph.D. He is a Bible Scholar who puts it all together like no one else has!!

    When I went to Medjugorje in Bosnia Hercegovina...the former Yugoslavia..I went to the place where our lady has appeared since 1980. Around the site where she appears is a fence in the shape of the Star of David. She is our Jewish Mother!!! We must never forget that!!

    In Jesus' name..
    Shalom...

  • Comment Link Paige Sunday, 01 May 2011 23:06 posted by Paige

    God bless you and your family. Hope you can tell your story on EWTN's THE JOURNEY HOME.

  • Comment Link bob cratchit Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:10 posted by bob cratchit

    Thanks for sharing this Mr. Leopold and welcome home! Shalom and my prayers are with your daughter and your family.

  • Comment Link Michael Friday, 13 May 2011 18:52 posted by Michael

    As a former Christian who has also seen "the light" and is making the move with my family and children to convert to Judaism, my thoughts go with you Tom.

  • Comment Link Laura Friday, 24 June 2011 05:56 posted by Laura

    Welcome Home

  • Comment Link Janet Arfin Kingan Wednesday, 20 July 2011 12:54 posted by Janet Arfin Kingan

    Tom, your wife and I grew up together (she sat in front of me in homeroom!) I am so thrilled to read this, but I got you beat by 6 years! I have never regretted my conversion, and God is So good. So nice to meet another Jewish Catholic! God bless you and your family, and my prayers are with your daughter.

  • Comment Link Angie Monday, 25 July 2011 08:26 posted by Angie

    I loved your story. Plus I'm excited to see how your faith will effect your career. I used to adore TV, but most of the options out there bother me now. I Pray Jesus uses you as his pencil. There has to be a reason he blessed someone like you. God bless you and your family!

  • Comment Link Delphine Sunday, 31 July 2011 00:47 posted by Delphine

    Thats a beautiful story. The Lord comes to us in mysterious ways, my mother always said that. He comes to us in mysterious ways, times, and places and if we have the faith of a mustard seed, the Lord will never forsake us. I have jewish blood on my mothers side, but she converted to catholisicm when she was a teenager and raised us catholic. (I think her friends took her to the church and she liked it). Anyhow, lovely story thank you for sharing it.

  • Comment Link Chris Vegliante Friday, 02 March 2012 12:52 posted by Chris Vegliante

    Truly a touching and inspiring account of a person's conversion to our Faith. Best wishes to you Mr. Leopold and may God Bless you and your family.

  • Comment Link David Friday, 02 March 2012 15:00 posted by David

    I find it curious that no one has pointed out that "consulting a psychic" is a grave sin.

    Mr. Leopold might want to explore Deliverance Prayer, both for himself and for his daughter, and to seek the help of a priest who understands what dabbling in the occult can open one up to.

    This is what leapt out a me, reading his story.

    "Thirty-eight years ago I went to a psychic down in Nolita (North Of Little
    Italy) who pretty much predicted my entire career path..."

    Our daughter had gotten a little better...but was falling back again... I thought I’d go visit Frank (my old psychic)...and tell him how right he had been about all that’s happened to me and to ask if he saw a recovery for our daughter. Frank told me to bring her to him. A few days later we did. Walking up the steps to Frank’s townhouse, a car pulls up right in front of us and out steps Father Jonathan Morris.

    "It was as if I hadn’t even seen the church until he pointed to it..."

    Blessings on Mr. Leopold, and on his family.

  • Comment Link Liz Friday, 02 March 2012 16:06 posted by Liz

    Hoping the absolute best for you and your family, Mr. Leopold. Especially your young daughter. What a wonderful overall story you have to share. Concerned about the psychic consultation as well. Have been really enjoying the information presented by Mr. Ben Alexander at http://www.espministries.com; Mr. Alexander a Jewish Christian himself. Perhaps you would enjoy reviewing his website. The material can be somewhat mind boggling, but the more I study this type of information as well as the bible, I realize that Satan's war against God started long, long ago will not end until THE END. "For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world ruler of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens." Ephesians 6:12...Put on the armor of God. May the peace, the love and the light of Jesus Christ be with you and yours.

  • Comment Link Ivo Greci Friday, 02 March 2012 17:35 posted by Ivo Greci

    enter your message here...

  • Comment Link Ivo Greci Friday, 02 March 2012 17:54 posted by Ivo Greci

    Mr. Leoplod.
    Welcome to the church of God.
    Two thousand years of Roman Catholicism welcomes you and your family.
    I've always believed that modern day proselytizing is, in effect, a subtle
    form of forced conversion upon those who are not sure what they believe in
    to begin with.
    Men come to the church when directed by the Holy Spirit, as, I believe,
    happened in your case.

    "Many are called, few are chosen"...Matthew 22:14.

    May our Lord Jesus Christ and his most blessed Mother Mary, queen of our Church, set their gaze upon you, your wife and your daughters. May you walk in their
    guidance and protection all the days of your lives, and live in testimony to the
    eternal church of Rome.

    DEVUS VVLT!

  • Comment Link KatyH Friday, 02 March 2012 21:57 posted by KatyH

    Hi Mr. Leopold,
    You opened that door a crack and the Lord sent many Angels to convince you it is He the long awaited Messiah. Welcome home. there is no line of confusion between the Jews and Catholicism. We are just the continuum of what God started 5000 years ago with Abraham.Jesus is the Promise that God gave to your people.Jesus and his mother Mary are still Jewish, that never changed. It is the gentiles that are the converts. Theres no place like home!!

    God has many plans for a terrific comedic writer like yourself. I've been laughing for years over your shows. You taught us to laugh at ourselves and not take life so serious.Thank you Lord for bringing some humor to the kingdom. Hope you continue your work and let the Lord use you. Our world needs a chuckle or two.

    Im so sorry to hear about your daughters troubles ,but she will get through this she just needs to believe it too. God as you know is the great physician!!!

  • Comment Link Ruby Friday, 02 March 2012 23:15 posted by Ruby

    Jews make the best Catholics! Catholicism is the result of the fulfillment, Jesus Is Lord, He Is The Messiah, All hearts rejoice! G-D Bless You and Your family.

  • Comment Link Ruby Friday, 02 March 2012 23:16 posted by Ruby

    Jews make the best Catholics! Catholicism is the result of the fulfillment, Jesus Is Lord, He Is The Messiah, All hearts rejoice! G-D Bless You and Your family.

  • Comment Link BarbaraGG Friday, 02 March 2012 23:17 posted by BarbaraGG

    Interesting story how Faith works in different ways, as there are different people, in different times.
    That Holy Spirit is such a Worker! when given the chance of an openness to Him.

    In response to David's post; the word's medium and physic are used in these past decades or centuries, but I feel it is a word people use a lot, for lack of knowing what else to call them. . . or not able to discern it.

    The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, yes, that can be interpreted differently too ( some say in Baptism, Confirmation, or other Sacraments of the Catholic church AND other churches) brings a blessing, an anointing, a loosening of Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Words of Knowledge, Words of Wisdom, Words of Prophecy,Words of Counsel, among them. I believe people are blessed with gifts and operate in them, without having the "real" name for them or totally understanding them. That I now know. If someone truly has been authenticated as operating in the gift of Discerning of Spirits, they would be able to help. God bless us with a new openness to serve, know and love Him, whenever, however He calls us.

  • Comment Link Mary Friday, 02 March 2012 23:25 posted by Mary

    I love to hear about conversion stories as I had one of my own. I was a cradle Catholic who went through some rough times in my life spiritually and emotionally. I thought God had abandoned me so I stopped going to church for quite some time. One Christmas day, I went to visit my parents. I didn't want to hurt them so I went to church. The priest gave a sermon that pierced my heart and was saying that if you have been away, today on Christmas, Christ wants to give Himself to you to help you carry whatever cross you have. He was hearing confessions after mass, a rarity and I went. I cried like a baby. I'll never forget the kindness and compassion of this good priest.

  • Comment Link mfh Saturday, 03 March 2012 01:26 posted by mfh

    Hi Tom, Sorry about your families suffering. Knowing a little about eating disorders I would recommend Bvitamins and Colostrum(Immune Tree brand). Trader Joes has a b6/b12/folic Acid that can go under the tongue that works great for only 8 dollars.
    Sister in Christ, MfH

  • Comment Link Sue/Shakopee MN Saturday, 03 March 2012 03:21 posted by Sue/Shakopee MN

    Beautiful and welcome to Catholicism!

  • Comment Link Mark Andreas Saturday, 03 March 2012 07:39 posted by Mark Andreas

    Hi Tom,
    This is already 2012 and you have been a Catholic for almost a year. You told your story as only a man who is blessed wtih a sense of humor can. The story of the cross your daughter bears only makes sense when joined to Christ's suffering. I pray that she may come to realize that her disorder can be of such great help to others like herself. My son was diagnose with type one diabetes at age 6. Of all my 5 children God knew which one could take it. His sense of humor and Faith are an inspiration to me. As I have survived Cancer, we have suffering in common. I tell him, "God gave this to us so we could be of help to others who suffer." You hit the nail on the head when you talked about God's grace, for it has been that grace in the sacraments that have pulled me through and kept me going. My happiest thought for you is to imagine when you were first Baptised, sealed with the Holy Spirit and recieved Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. I pray that your family follows your path.
    God bless you.

  • Comment Link Anthony Saturday, 03 March 2012 13:16 posted by Anthony

    Praise you lord .. for all that you do.. you bring your folk closer and take care of each and every one.. I love you Jesus..

  • Comment Link BJ Saturday, 03 March 2012 16:53 posted by BJ

    nice story...the ring of pure sincerity and humility....you were a marked man.

  • Comment Link Lou Saturday, 03 March 2012 18:45 posted by Lou

    Welcome! I agree with the above post. You might want to go to a healing priest or to a priest for deliverance prayers and tell him you have consulted a psychic. They do have fore knowledge but it does not come from God. It can open you up to many demonic problems in life including the eating disorder your daughter is suffering from. But you're in the right place! Who best to fight the devil than the church God founded- The Catholic Church! I will pray for your family. Keep marching!

  • Comment Link Fr. Chris Fontanini Saturday, 03 March 2012 18:46 posted by Fr. Chris Fontanini

    It gives me great hope for the media world. It goes to show one that God can intervene in many different ways and is the hound of heaven who never gives up on any of us! Congratulations, Tom!

  • Comment Link Maureen Saturday, 03 March 2012 22:10 posted by Maureen

    We should pray for Father Morris. He is such a good priest that we need to ask God to continue to protect him from harm so he can continue his work and bring more to Christ.

  • Comment Link Annabella Sunday, 04 March 2012 03:14 posted by Annabella

    I pray that your daughter is completely healed. You are a good man!

  • Comment Link homar Sunday, 04 March 2012 07:11 posted by homar

    Bless God! You are among the elect and have been chosen and then given the grace of conversion. If God reads in your heart even a glimmer of interest for Him and His Son, He will make Himself known to you in a special way that is tailored just for you and your needs at the time. I had a similar conversion some eleven years ago and it was so blatently obvious that He was going to get my attention and pursue me until there was no way I could write the many things that happened off into anything but a call... We are that special and loved by Him and it brings us full circle to completion; what we all have been searching for in anything in the world that doesn't involve being a holy-roller christian. The amazing thing is we can use our very unique personalities and talents for His kingdom and do not need to be quoting off scripture to everyone we meet- this is such a turn-off and the reason why christianity gets such a bad rap. Nice having you in the family and I hope more will be converted by your example.

  • Comment Link N. D. Sunday, 04 March 2012 07:11 posted by N. D.

    Congratulations! I too will prayer for your family, especially your youngest.

    I was also struck by the psychic portion of your conversion story, but took Father's meeting with you as a sign that you didn't make it back. Hopefully. Anyhow we all need to seek healing from the damaging things that we have opened ourselves up to unknowingly by not knowing Christ and the scriptures. It is true that we are in a Spiritual war and Satan has us all deceived and walking right into his traps.

    My hope for all Catholics and a goal for myself is to really know the scriptures and have the guidance of the Holy Spirit to have our eyes open to the truth.

    It is hard to be a Christian in our secular world, hard to live up to our Christian calling and the secular eyes are watching in judgement waiting for us to fall I wish you God's blessings and, too, hope that you will be "God's pencil".

    Peace and thanks for sharing your story!

  • Comment Link Marcela García Sunday, 04 March 2012 11:32 posted by Marcela García

    Mr. Leopold, I will be praying for your daughter and family. Your story has really moved me and I found it expressed a great love for Jesus Christ as a person.

    One question, though: do you now have double joke immunity? :-)

  • Comment Link MinnRay Monday, 05 March 2012 02:29 posted by MinnRay

    God bless you and your family, especially your younger daughter, Tom. I'm not sure why I read this, but I'm glad I did.

    Ray from Minneapolis

  • Comment Link Elias Vazquez Thursday, 17 January 2013 20:14 posted by Elias Vazquez

    Hello Mr. Leopoldo I saw your name pop up on the Catholic Chanel and I Googled it and found your families story. I very closely resembles mine. God lead me to your story and it lifted me during a , still, very difficult time. Welcome to the church. I will pray for you and your daughter, that you recieve peace and healing from our Lord Jesus.

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