Thursday, November 08, 2007

The conversion controversy will affect all of us

XGH (Ex-Godol Hador, or whatever he's calling himself nowadays)—I’d give you the name of his blog, but he keeps changing that, too :)—has published this rather disturbing post.

Seriously, if the Orthodox community (communities?) won’t even recognize all of their own conversions, what’s going to happen to the rest of us?

Quote of the day:

“I think we should have a counter org that challenges the validity of charedi [fervently Orthodox] conversions.why should they get a free pass? let their halachas [(interpretations of) Jewish religious law] be challenged as not authentic and force them to the center, instead of their halachos being considered universally accepted and an ideal.happywithhislot 11.08.07 - 12:46 pm #

Ages ago, I told my Israeli brother to guard our parents’ ketubah (Jewish religious wedding contract) with his life—it’s the only proof acceptable to the Israeli rabbinate that our family is halachically Jewish.

In 25 years, when the yeshiva-educated child of your son—or mine—and his Jew-by-Choice wife, converted by an Orthodox rabbi, tries to arrange his/her wedding in Israel, will he or she suddenly be informed, in no uncertain terms, that he or she is not Jewish?


Blogger lxr23g56 said...

Hi there you hit the nail right on the head when wrote.

Seriously, if the Orthodox community (communities?) won’t even recognize all of their own conversions, what’s going to happen to the rest of us?

In fact thats more or less the question i asked in my last post!

As a non-ortho JBC this is something I think about often. I'm willing to do my part for Klal Yisrael but what good is that going to do when North American Orthodox Halacha is not Halakhic enough for the rabbinate in Israel?

I guess only time will tell.

Thu Nov 08, 04:53:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Wow, thanks for the link to your post and the link (in your post) to the article by Rabbi Marc Angel avocating independence for rabbis in determining whether a person would make a good Jew by Choice. In my opinion, he's one of the "good guys"--and the Jewish community needs as many "good guys" as it can get.

Thu Nov 08, 05:21:00 PM 2007  
Blogger lxr23g56 said...

You are welcome and I agree (big time) that Rabbi Angel is on the good guy side of things at least in terms of braking the Ultra-Orthodox Monopoly on who is a jew!

PS my wife really likes your blog and although i'm new-ish to it, so do I.

Be well!

Thu Nov 08, 05:28:00 PM 2007  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

My mother-in-law was born to (more or less modern) Orthodox parents. Her late husband G-d rest his soul was as well. They attended a conservative synagogue. They adopted their daughter, my wife to be, and at less than a week old she was in the synagogue being brought into the Jewish world. She had a bat mitzvah just like all the other girls in the congregation.

I am a former Catholic finally come home and on the path to conversion in that same synagogue.

When it is all said and done, forty years after I've converted, and we've raised our children as Jews from birth... will they be disavowed? Does the prospect of it frighten me?

No. G-d in His infinite wisdom set me in the world in America where one can create a religious organization around cauliflower if they wanted. What matters isn't my pedigree or my wife's. What matters is the content of our souls. G-d knows we believe. He knows.

So if the extremists of superlative-ville (ultra, super, mega orthodox) want to think themselves better judges than G-d and my congregation and my rabbi, well, that doesn't really matter to me does it? Israel is in the heart. It is there even if a meteor wipes it off the map. No one can take that away from us.

Thu Nov 08, 06:36:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tikkunger, thanks to you and your wife for your compliments. Enjoy!

Suitepotato, I hope you'll be "official" in due time, and best of luck. I wish I could be as sanguine about the "Who is a Jew" (or, as some say, the "Who is a rabbi?") controversy.

Fri Nov 09, 01:20:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Hila said...

I'm with suitepotato on this one. Yes, it annoys me, and hurts me, as a JBC in the process of converting, but I have to be content with knowing that G-d knows, my friends and family know, and my congregation knows that I am a Jew. Since I don't plan on living in "superlative-ville" at any point, how much stock do I really want/need to place in what they say?

This is not to say that I am not worried about what will happen when , G-d willing, I am married and have children of my own. But I can't let this issue deter me from my happiness and fulfillment in leading a Jewish life.

Sun Nov 11, 11:21:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Hila, best of luck in, I hope, joining the clan, and I hope this rabbinical disagreement doesn't create a problem for you and/or your children.

Mon Nov 12, 10:20:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Marci said...

I am enjoying your blog! This whole concept infuriates me - I am a woman rabbi who works with many incredible Jews-by-choice. Their passion for Judaism, the questions they raise, the commitments they take on - they often demonstrate much more than the Jews who are born Jewish, and who take their faith for granted. I am constantly inspired by those who convert to Judaism, and it is a shame for anyone to tell them that they are not Jewish. Such a shame.

Fri Nov 16, 03:22:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Rabbi Marci, would it sound like too much of a cliche for me to say that some of my best friends are Jews by Choice? I speak of one woman from my former synagogue and one from my current one, both of whom I've known for over a decade, both converted, with verbal examination by a Bet Din (Rabbinical Court) and immersion in a mikveh (ritual bath), by Conservative rabbis. We spent many a Shabbat (Sabbath) afternoon with the first one and her husband and kids, and the second one is my "davvening buddy"--I've been sitting next to her in shul on Shabbat and Yam Tovin (holidays) for years. (My husband, poor soul, gets stuck sitting next to the rabbi, since he's the chair of the Ritual Committee.) The first brought her husband, raised a hard-core Secular Yiddishist, into synagogue life, and they sent their kids to day school. (One is now studying for a Masters in Jewish Education.) The second is one of our local synagogue's most active members, in turns of both davvening and volunteering. It's sad that, even if they were to go before an Orthodox Bet Din, the odds on either of them ever becoming sufficiently Chareidi in their observance and/or beliefs to satisfy the Israeli rabbinate's conversion requirements are basically non-existent. So neither of them would be accepted as Jews in Israel. I wish there were a better way.

Sun Nov 18, 01:54:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eventually the whole mess will be resolved the way mamzerut (bastardy) issues have been resolved:

1. Don't ask. (about would-be congregants' ancestry)
2. Don't tell.

Sun Nov 18, 02:10:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Woodrow, that may be true, in the long run, but I think a lot of would-be Jews or thought-they-*were*-Jews are going to be rejected in the short run. Our son is an only child. It's bad enough that we have only a 50-50 chance that he'll marry someone *born* Jewish--now, we may have only a 50-50 chance that his future wife's decision to *become* Jewish, even under Orthodox auspices, will suffice. It's sad that the conversion process has become such a contentious issue.

Sun Nov 18, 08:24:00 PM 2007  

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