Monday, 8 November 2010

Conversion Woes

Channukah is one of my favorite times of the year, but for many converts it is a time of stress  as families gather each night to light their Menorah and celebrate.  Most converts come alone and must slowly develop friendships and community ties. Israelis are warm and welcoming, but when  you are without family, you can be lonely in the midst of a crowd and the  truth is, there is no quick fix for this.

What I see so often is people who, for whatever reason, want to convert to Judaism and live in Israel. Many have come on tours and have felt the "spiritual call". What they do not realize is that when you come as a tourist--usually in a group--you are seeing  Israel from the Christian viewpoint. Many of the conversion courts outside of Israel maintain this warm fuzzy view of the "Holy Land" and neglect to inform converts of the harsh realities on the ground. This is a large topic which I will come back to from time to time. In the meantime here are a few items to consider.

When you convert to Judaism you are rejecting all of your former beliefs. This means for example that you must believe in your heart and declare that Jesus was nothing more than a mortal man. He was not a prophet and definitely not the son of Gd. There is only one Gd.

As a Jew you become the child of Avraham and Sarah. You are no longer connected to your  former family. This can have varying effects on the individual. What if your mother dies? What about your children? At first it seems like "no problem" but that is wrong. If you choose to visit your family, how do you keep Shabbat? How do you keep Kosher--remember, you cannot eat from the dishes or pots in a house that is not Kosher. How do you daven? How do you explain to your family the changes you have undergone? If you say, well, I will not be observant  when I am there, you should never consider conversion!

Harsh? Maybe, but it is truth. When one truly embraces Judaism there are sacrifices. On a personal level the rewards are great, but for many the reality is shocking. If you are thinking of converting, do not do so lightly. Remember, you can't say--Ooops! I changed my mind. Stay tuned for more...


Miriam Woelke said...


Very well written an very true !
I just want to add that also Jewish Olim (new immigrants) can be lonely in Israel.


Unfortunately, too many converts claim afterwards that they didn't know about the Mitzvot and that they don't make sense anyway.

Anonymous said...

But if there is Liberal Judaism, why is it such a tabboo that someone is attracted to the Liberal views of Judaism ?!

A liberal jew, never stops being a jew ... so why such "war" against liberal converts ?

With due respect, Judaism is not all and only about dressing in black and having beards. One can keep his "responsible observance", and refrain from pork, shelfish, etc ... but it is not a sin to eat a salad in a gentile's house. Of course to keep kosher in Israel or even USA is much easier. But once the person converted, it should not be a huge problem that his/her family will understand and accept that he/she has now different views and habits. There must be some mutual respect and understanding also from the non-jewish side.

Orfan said...

I was speaking of converts, not born Jews. There is a difference. As for eating salad at a gentile's house--it is not Kosher--end of story. If you understood kashrus you would know this. Anyone with your ideas, should look into becoming a Noachide and stay away from conversion. There are many who bluff their way through, but Hashem knows they are fakes, as would an observant Jew. Thanks for your comment--I will do a post on this topic in a month or so.

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