Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Converts With Kids~Part II

I began this topic after meeting many converts with children. As in Part I, where I dealt with younger children, I reiterate that these posts are assuming that you will make an Halachic Conversion with an Orthodox beit din and that you will keep the mitzvot.

As children reach their teen years they come under many pressures, and being an Orthodox Jew adds to this. In a Jewish community pre-teens and teens are taught modest behaviour  and are used to separation between the sexes. If they have grown up in an observant home these things will come naturally. But what happens when you convert and you have a teen? Your child will be more aware of changes and might resent being pulled from a secular lifestyle into the observant world, but it is more than that. 

The change from celebrating "xtian" based holidays to the Jewish Calendar is hard--even for a consenting adult. Telling your teen there is no TV or video games on Shabbat and that there are days when fasting is expected are cause for rebellion. Think of the impact of telling a teen he will not be going to grandma for xmas--because Jews don't celebrate idol worship...think about it.

Now add in the need to pray three times a day (plus bedtime Shema) and the need for boys to wear Tsitzit and Kippah and to start laying Tefillin from Bar Mitzva...well you can guess the problems. Again, if they have been exposed from birth or pre-school the change is simpler. Many teens just cannot handle the burden and feel the need to escape. Once this happens it is very difficult to maintain "your lifestyle" and try to woo your teen back home.

Now think about social occasions. How do you tell your daughter that there are places where women are not allowed? Everything from prayers to weddings have a separation between men and women. No "mixed" parties. This is more "normal" in Israel, but think about the community you are living in right now. If your child is in a secular school and is invited to a party what reaction will there be when you say "No".  

For those of you who choose to remain in your own country, you will have different considerations than those who are making Aliyah to Israel. By "staying where you are" you will face the difficulty of "separation" while at close range. The reality is, you can be friends with non-Jews, but you will find that the differences are so great that you will be forced to distance yourself. I know you are thinking..."Well, I can still keep my same friends". And yes, you can, but then you should not be considering conversion. This is the reality. Choosing to convert to Judaism is not just a matter of "belief" or "feeling" or  the latest "fad"Jews are a people and Jewishness comes through the bloodline of the mother. You can convert, but you should only do it if you are ready to sever yourself completely from your old life. If you have kids you truly need to consider the implications. Are you willing to "lose your children" (Gd Forbid)? It has happened.

To be continued...

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