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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I asked this question as a PM to diablita and she suggested we open it up to everyone's thoughts. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
My specific question is in reference to converts to Judaism, though this is something that is potentially relevant to other religious converts as well.<br><br>
So my question on Judaism is this: I know that converts are (in Jewish law, at least) fully Jewish, and that there are key figures in Judaism who were converts--the most obvious being Ruth. However, is it possible for someone of non-Jewish lineage to truly fit in, given that a lot of the celebrations/holidays/stories/traditions are so closely tied to a Jewish blood lineage (i.e. "Let *my* people go"---how much can that mean to someone whose ancestors weren't Jewish?). This is even MORE complicated by the Holocaust and what that means to modern day Jews. Not everyone was directly touched by the Holocaust (such as those whose entire families emigrated prior to it) but I still feel that a convert could feel out of place, having no ties at all to the atrocity.<br><br>
I understand the notion of a convert's soul being there at Sinai, but that sometimes seems like an "easy explanation" to me. Gah!<br><br>
So, anyone who wants to chime in on Judaism in particular, or on their own experience changing to a religion that is not part of their background or family, I'd love to hear it!
 

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<img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"> I think this is such an interesting question.<br><br>
From what I know/have seen there are two schools of thought in Judaism with respect to conversion: those who accept converts fully and those who don't at all. We should all except converts (and I'm sure Mike will touch on that), but you will meet some people who don't. Most of the people who don't (in my experience) are both old school and lean towards the more religious side.<br><br>
For me, you are by doing. If I see someone who's converted for what ever reason and enjoys the religion and practices it in their way, that person is Jewish. And frankly, our numbers aren't exactly growing. So if someone wants to become a Jew, and is willing to go through the process of becoming one, I'll be 150% supportive.<br><br>
So will this convert fit in with everyone in the Jewish community? no. But look at it this way: there are plenty of people who will say that I'm not a good enough or true Jew b/c I'm only Conservative. And we Jews like to debate and argue! So hopefully it will help the convert to know that nobody ever fits in perfectly.
 

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well, I converted - I was raised Catholic, but now I'm Jewish (Conservative, specifically). I've spent hours discussing this with my born-Jewish husband, and one of the things I think it comes down to is that while I am religiously Jewish, I'm not really culturally Jewish the way he is.<br><br>
I know that my husband's brother doesn't really consider me Jewish (he's Orthodox), but aside of saying something to my husband well before my conversion process and our marriage, he's kept his mouth shut.<br><br>
I consider myself Jewish (as does my husband and my rabbi - and I have papers to prove it!), although I still feel like an outsider much of the time. Part of that is my lack of familiarity with traditions and prayers, and part of that is I think just becoming part of a family that you weren't part of, before.<br><br>
Interesting question. I have often wondered if I will feel more a part of the greater Jewish community as time goes on. It would help if we were more involved/observant. I will say that I have NEVER been made to feel anything less than completely welcome.
 

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Lintu- Out of the converts I know and the born jews I know- the converts by and large (on a per capita basis) are more knowledgable, more pious and more active than jewish born brothers and sisters.<br><br>
Could it be because they had to work for it?<br>
Could it be because the born jews take it for granted?<br><br>
What I do know is that I have a lot of respect for someone whose made that sort of dedication in their life to adopt Judaism when they're old enough to make the rational choice about it. <img alt="icon_salut.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/icon_salut.gif"> Good for you, Lintu. Good for you.
 

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BTW- I was converted when I was 2 years old (This is something I just found out recently). My mother converted to Judaism after she had her children- and all her kids- including me were converted Hallachically.<br><br>
I was raised in a Jewish household. My father was Jewish, so I lost family ha Shoah and I had a Bar Mitzvah.<br><br>
I am the only practicing Jew in my family now. My mom doesn't practice, my sisters don't practice, neither does my uncle- and the other day when I was with my girlfriend- when we were talking about the future- I showed her the documents that proved conversion just as a way of saying "<i>If things go that way- and we want to find a rabbi who will marry us- we may have to convince him.</i>"
 

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I kind of think this is the same for someone joining ANY group. They likely won't EVER feel like the are TOTALLY accepted. It's kind of the way we humans are. Us versus them. But, I think intuitively, we know this when we join a group, and if you choose to join anyway, it's incumbent upon you to deal with it, and help minimize it as best you can. With religions, this is probably even more overt, although we might wish for it to be just the opposite.<br><br>
It takes some time to convince people that you aren't the Trojan Horse.<br><br><br>
With Respect,<br><br>
mattie
 

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I can't speak for converting to Judaism, but I can speak as a convert.<br><br>
I was raised Methodist, and a rather non-observant one at that. Ten years ago, I converted to Catholicism. My experience has been largely positive. I haven't encountered anyone that has ever said that I am not a "real" Catholic because I converted.<br><br>
I tend to be more observant than DH when it comes to Church doctrine (well, except that confession thing..), etc. I think this is because I had to work hard to become Catholic, and he was born with it, and will occasionally take some of the privileges that come with it for granted.<br><br>
FWIW, many people are surprised when they learn I'm a convert.<br><br>
I wish you the best in whatever you do!
 

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Interesting post!<br><br>
I've always wondered about this. A teacher I had once was going through the conversion process before she married the son of a rabbi. She said they had a different term to refer to her than someone who was born Jewish and that she was made somewhat to feel like an outsider (Not by her now husband, of course, but by some members of his family and church) I don't know what branch specifically it was or any more details than that. Frankly, since it was a public school, I'd be surprised she shared that much with us if it was any other teacher than her (Last I heard, she's not rehirable to our district because she didn't follow rules-- she left out banned literature and talked about meanings of things the school thought we weren't ready for, because she figured that we were the gifted class and that education/the world should not be hidden from us based on some stupid syllabus)
 

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My aunt was raised Presbytarian but married and converted to Judaism back in the late 60s. She and her husband moved to NYC and became part of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabad" target="_blank">this</a> community. As far as I know, after 20 years and 8 children, she is treated as a full member of the community. All the kids continue, at some level, the faith and one is studying seminary over in Israel now (He is at the school where 8 people were shot the other day. A few nervous hours wondering before we heard he was ok.)<br><br>
Whether there were issues with my Aunt being accepted earlier in her marriage, I don't know. I imagine there might have been. But even after the death of my uncle 10 years ago, she has remained as active and included and involved as she was before.<br><br>
What's cool is that she just went to Israel for the first time last month. The community banded together to raise money to send a group of widows over for 10 days. She loved it.<br><br>
She may not be Jewish by birth, but she is fully Jewish in spirit.<br><br>
I think there is something to be said for making an active choice to BECOME something. Doing the work makes it more real, somehow, I'd think. Maybe that's good advice for those born into a faith, to start acting like a convert, seeing the religion with new eyes, and making choices to be more active and involved.
 

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Great statement. And while there will be people in any group who choose to exclude, often it's the new person hirself that feels the most doubt or questions belonging most.<br><br>
Katie, we belong to a Chabad congregation here in town, and did in SoFla for quite a while as well. Although we aren't as observant as true Hasidim are, having grown up going to my grandparents' Orthodox shul, the services are more comfortable for me. And there is something VERY welcoming about Chabad. On a social level, they try to be very open to the Jewish community and plan many combined social/educational activites to be inclusionary vs. exclusionary. One thing they do very well is plan Jewish singles events as a way to encourage Jewish coupledom, marriage and maintain our numbers. In SoFla there are many Chabad congregations and they've been VERY important to the influx of South American Jews over the last few years; they help people establish new roots.
 

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well I don't know about all that but if the Methodist church holds one more dinner with tuna noodle casserole I might convert to Lutheran
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ferrellk---very interesting! I always wondered how your aunt became a Lubavitcher (is it that group?) since it seems like it would be hard for a non-Jewish woman to even meet and get to know a Hasidic man, but that explains it.<br><br>
Even outside of being actively accepted by those around her, do you think she feels part of the religion despite her ancestors not being part of the ancient Jewish tribes? I think this would be particularly interesting for someone who is part of a very Orthodox group.
 

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<span style="color:#000000;">The Mormons had some pretty rough times in the early church (The Martin Handcart company, being driven out of place to place, even a notice of execution given by the state saying all found within the state were to be executed).</span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;">The Mormon’s I know that can trace their ancestry back to those times do so with no small amount of pride. However I’ve never gotten any sort of vibe from them that they were somehow “more Mormon” than I was.</span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;">Until fairly recently, most of the Church Presidents were converts and some (don’t know the exact count) of the current Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are converts. So I would say that the sort of sentiment you describe doesn’t exist strongly in the LDS church.</span><br><br><span style="color:#000000;">BTW I’m not comparing LDS history to what the Jews went through and hope it didn’t come across that way.</span>
 

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I didn't know that. How interesting.<br><br><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Those Chabaders can drink!!! <img alt="shock.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/shock.gif">
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Didn't come across that way at all. Besides, any persecution or atrocity is evil and shouldn't be shrugged off just because it wasn't as widespread or acknowledged as another.
 

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I won't really ever know for sure. My aunt and I don't talk a lot. She's a pretty quiet person usually.<br><br>
I think that having children definitely helped her feel more connected....the blending of blood, so to speak. So her offspring are connected, through their father, historically.<br><br>
If you tease it all down evolutionarily we're all related, so we're all connected.<br><br><img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 
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