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regarding turning to Judaism - Page 2

post #21 of 64
Thread Starter 
wow I am surprised at how many of you converted later in life. It seems I'm not alone in this journey (even though sometimes it kinda feels that way!)
post #22 of 64
I found Chabbad House when I was in college.
post #23 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarJune View Post
I absolutely knew that you would end up here. Your questions, thoughts and reasonings were SO familiar.

I knew that in time you would make that change. If you have any questions you can PM me. I fully understand what you are going through. Just remember that it is a journey.


This comment really hit me... I would love to know more about your journey!
post #24 of 64
I remember us having a debate on the Ten Commandments thread. I posted that following the Sabbath was one of the first things that I questioned and after tons of research, (one of my degrees is a BTh), I discovered that it should be kept by me. So I did. And I loved it! Now even when we have company staying for an extended period of time I will explain what we do/do not do and give them options like here is the cordless phone but the ringer won’t be on etc. Here is food because I won’t be cooking. Absolutely everyone has said no, we love how peaceful this day is and how relaxed we feel. They decided to observe at our level.

During that post I felt your defensiveness and I understood because I was the same way before. Part of being a proselytizing religion is feeling that you are doing things “right” and others are doing things “wrong” and need to come to your faith. Complete generalization but that is my quick way of summing it up. So it feels like a personal attack when someone doesn’t agree. I have freedom now from that because I don’t have to convince someone else to believe as I do. If they don’t think that they need to observe the Sabbath... okay... you don’t.

Later I noticed a questioning approach in your posts like I had. Truth-seeking, I call it. What am supposed to do? Not, what I have learned but really wanting to know how to please G!d and live in a way that He commanded. You were analyzing and asking questions and willing to even be “against the grain” as you stated then. In my past, I know in my personal experience I was not encouraged to ask questions but randomly believe. I LOVE that Judaism is a thinking faith. You can debate, disagree and discuss anything. It is encouraged.

Whenever I saw your posts I would say to myself that I bet HP will want to convert one day! LOL

Personally I was not looking for a new faith. I really thought that I might end up in an early-church type experience but I just grew and grew. I met a friend online who was a part of the Messianic Jewish movement and she encouraged me to visit one of their meetings. I said no but she understood because she had been involved for 10 years and longed for more. Years later after losing touch, I told her that I was converting, she told me that she was too!!! I was astounded. We had the same thoughts as you. I just don’t believe in G!d being man, I don’t believe in the statues and artifacts, the trinity, etc. We have the most beautiful friendship and encourage each other all the time.

Well after looking into keeping kosher back where my parents grew up for when I visited, I discovered that I have a Jewish heritage!!! I had no clue even though looking back there were several signs. My conversion is on hold and I am having a genealogical company do the research. Apparently there were/are many Jews where my parents lived and my grandmother is part of one of the most prominent families. When she talks about how her mother prayed, things they ate, how they lived ... it now makes sense. From what I have seen online, this happens frequently. Many find Jewish roots. I think that it is because it is a calling back to who you truly are... Your neshama. Someone, I think Merpk, said that all Jews were present at Mt. Sinai which explained my feeling of complete and utter peace with this journey. That makes sense to me.

I still want to do more studies. I love the learning. I would recommend that you get connected with a Chabad house and start taking classes. They have so many good tools. You must be a part of a community, it is so essential to Jewish life. In terms of family, the fact is that this way of life affects everything. That it is not a once or twice a week thing. It really encompasses your whole life. This affects where you live, what you eat, how you work, just everything. I guess I love that too. So be prepared for dramatic shifts in your relationships. And lots of people praying for your soul...

I try to remember that they have good intentions and want the best for me. But to be honest I do sometimes feel annoyed . I have a dear friend who is not at all mainstream and has a wonderful respect for Jewish life. But after the 3rd or fourth invitation to a Messianic event on a Saturday morning, I had to tell her that basically I would never go. Our relationship has survived our differences but only because I stood firm and she respected that and stopped trying to convert me or see my acts as being deceived by the "enemy". My family is another story...

I wish you well and please feel free to PM me. I would love to discuss this more with you. I remember feeling so lost because I didn’t fit in to my past but didn’t fit in my new life either. Everyone was wonderful and kind but I was still out of my element. But that changes. I feel very comfortable now. I have a great book list that I would recommend. There is lots to learn!
post #25 of 64
Just a few things to KNOW before you try to convert....You will be required to live in a Orthodox Community, within walking distance to a shul with several shomer shabbos families. You must believe in Rambam's 13 Principals of Faith, you should learn to read and pray in Hebrew (not all Batey Din require this but it will be helpful to you), you should read and understand all 613 Mitzvos and be willing to keep them all (with exception to the ones related to the beis hamikdash which can't be followed until the Temple is rebuilt), you will want to learn the 3 biggies for women which are Lighting Shabbos candles, separating the Challah and Taharas Hamispacha. You will also need to learn the brochos for things like food, bathroom use, hand washing...pretty much everything has a blessing that goes with it...lol. There is soooooo much to learn and there are tons of books that would be helpful...if you want I will compile a list of books that will be helpful to you. I would also suggest getting a TaNaCh and a siddur...make sure they are Orthodox and not Conservative or Reform. Also if you really want to convert...you should slowly start changing your wardrobe over to modest clothing...knee length or longer skirts, elbow length round necked shirts...also....I wouldn't cover your head all the time until you talked to the Beis Din, they may tell you to wait until your conversion is complete to cover.
Avoid buying new kitchen items until your conversion because you may have to throw some things out when you kasher your kitchen.
OK I will stop now...lol...I am not trying to scare you but it is really A LOT of work to do an orthodox conversion. If this is something you are serious about don't be discouraged but when you first approach a rabbi about conversion it is likely he will turn you away..probably a few times. Be persistent if this is REALLY what you want.
post #26 of 64
Thread Starter 
Melanie,

thanks for all your thoughts. I have a friend who has converted and to be honest even though I NEVER would have admitted this even a few months ago I've been reading about orthodox judaism... well... for a really long time. I just never had the guts ot go past reading about it in secret. but yeah.. I know how much stuff i have to learn. and I'm not sure yet if we will convert... we JUST found a Rabbi willing ot give us the time of day lol so ... we're meeting with him soon.

for far we have:
  • set a meeting with a Rabbi
  • asked about attending classes at the semi-local Chabad house
  • I have been dressing modestly and covering my hair for about 4 yrs now. so that's no change at all. I dress to the same standards I have for a long time. covered to my elbows, above collar bones, below calf (I don't like them shorter personally) and covering my hair... also not tight clothing etc... as far as head covering, I did this already as a modest thing way before I ever considered conversion. and it would be just plain silly to stop and then start again. I did it out of respect to our family's beliefs on modesty, not b/c jewish women do it.
  • We own and orthodox Tanach and the chamash
  • read weekly Parsha (and listen to the teaching)
  • do evening prayers (in english as I don't know hebrew...yet.)
  • working on doing morning prayers
  • have a non-orthodox shabbat (to pave the way for a real one) we don't do the jewish prayers, but we follow and orthodox written and approved Noachide prayer book.
  • of course do a lot of reading, study and meditation on my own. (as does my husband) but this is nothing different as we have done that since we became religious a few years ago....

I do know about moving closer. that isn't a problem for us. But i also know that isn't in the very very near future.

We just moved to this state and I know one family (our neighbors) and my husband works oline through his own business so really aside from being worried about alienating my parents, we don't have a lot to give up anymore. when we became religious (Christian) we lost most of our secualer friendships. when I started dressing modestly I lost most of my Christian friendships! lol so... it's nothing for us to pick up and move for a good reason.

I have one added benefit... sorta. I am completely dairy free.... so I'm almost sure i would only have to have one set of dishes and whatnot. I'm also highly allergic to everything so we don't eat out anyhow. (I have a digestive disorder) nor do we have the privilege of going to people's home often for dinner b/c of this... which makes going kosher way easy for us.... but it makes joining a community WAY hard. THAT is probably the thing i am worried about beyond anything.

being allergic to so many foods is very alienating. I can't remember the last time we had a friend whom we could go to their house to eat, people always come here if we eat together. so... yeah... that's going to be a real struggle. but we have already mentioned this to the Rabbi so hopefully he will have some good ideas. b/c even if we didn't convert we'd still likely visit with people yk?

I am totally interested in any books! I have read a few about conversions, but I can't seem to find any about orthodox conversions, only reform or conservative...
post #27 of 64
This is the book list I was given for my conversion. It is from the beit din in Toronto:

Introductory

Becoming a Jew, Maurice Lamm
To Be a Jew, Hayim Halevy Donin
Book of Our Heritage, Eliyahu Kitov
This is My G-d, Herman Wouk
Friday Night and Beyond, Lori Palatnik
Kashruth, Yaakov Lipshutz

Intermediate

Shabbat

The Sabbath, Dayan Grunfeld
Shabbos: Day of Eternity, Aryeh Kaplan
Shemirat Shabbat, Yehoshua Neuwirth
The Shabbos Kitchen, Simcha Bunim Cohen


Kashrut

The Dietary Laws, Dayan Grunfeld


Prayer

To Pray as a Jew, Hayim Halevy Donin


Family Purity

Waters of Eden, Aryeh Kaplan
A Hedge of Roses, Norman Lamm
The Secret of Jewish Femininity, Tehilla Abramov
Halichos Bas Yisroel, Fuchs


Family, Marriage

To Raise a Jewish Child, Hayim Helevy Donin
The Jew and His Home, Eliyahu Kitov
The Jewish Way in Love and Marriage, Maurice Lamm


Mitzvot

Abridged Code of Jewish Law, Gershon Appel
Horeb, Samson Raphael Hirsch
The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning, Maurice Lamm
NCSY Brachos Book


Jewish Beliefs,
Philosophy & Ethics



With Perfect Faith, J. David Bleich
Ethics From Sinai, Irving Bunim
Handbook of Jewish Belief, Aryeh Kaplan
Maimonides Principles: The Fundamentals of Jewish Faith, Aryeh Kaplan
Love Thy Neighbour, Zelig Pliskin


Essential Books


Artscroll Siddur
Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash
post #28 of 64
Thread Starter 
Thank you! that is really helpful! I will look into those books as soon as I can. I appreciate the help. Like I said, it's been really nice hope encouraging you all have been. I feel so weird still... having been here as a Christian for so long... I was concerned I wouldn't get such a warm reception

one thing more... any ideas on books or perhaps even blogs (or your personal experiences?) about hwo to handle the conversion with children?
post #29 of 64
Thread Starter 
I was wondering of you mamas.... did it take you a while to work through conversion? I mean I know it takes a while period.... but with children and so forth, did you take your time? did it take longer?

I guess I ask b/c sometimes I'm scared I will get ahead of myself. I want to finally "be there". but i feel like I need to take my time so I am on sure footing. I don't want to just dash into in and staring banging on the door of the synogogue saying "let me in!!!" heh. I want to know this is wher I belong... and I I want my children to feel as comfortable as they can with knowing they belong too. it's a big change for them. It's going yo be a really big change for my 10 yr old if we convert (never been circumcised so he'd need the whole shebang if he was to convert...) I haven't told him about that part yet... b/c I'm still getting him used to the idea of not being Christian.I'm trying to introduce him to new ideas a step at a time.

anyhow sometimes i find myself full of worry. what If it doesn't work? what fi they don't want me? what if they say "you're not welcome here" or something. I don't know. for some reason I find myself with this fear of the "what ifs". what if i put my children through all this work to convert and then.... we never find a place to belong. what if my kids never fit in? what if people poke fun at them? what if my SN 5 yr old starts singing a hymn or christian song when we're visiting someone's home? what if My kids wail and sob at the thought of no longer having christmas? what if my children don't make friends? what if I can't learn hebrew? what if they ask me why I want to be a Jew and I freeze up and don't know what to say? what if I say the wrong thing and they tell me that's not a good enough reason? etc etc etc

I am having a worrisome day for some reason. and my heart is heavy. My soul long for one thing, by my head can't seem to be calm about all the "what ifs". I wish my head would feel the cam that my soul has. My soul knows where it wants to be... my head doesn't. (does that even make sense?) It took me a logn time to come here and even write this b/c I'm afraid of people saying that it's proof i don't belong or somethign stupid.

My husband tells me not to think so far ahead... that we need to take it a small step at a time and that I'm borrowing trouble. and he's right.... but i still can't seem to calm the "what ifs" and when I lay down at night I get anxious aboutit. (granted I have an anxiety disorder, so that's nothing new... but, I try really hard to not let thigns spiral out of control. anxiety is a real battle for me)

I just thought maybe someone has had the same worries? maybe that would make me feel better. maybe it would give me a grip on my anxiety over it.

TIA
post #30 of 64
I have had times like that too...and your dh is right...stop thinking so far ahead...first make the decision on whether or not you are going to convert. You can deal with the other issues as they come. My 3 yr old who only celebrated xmas as an infant and as an 18 month old talk about Santa sometimes....I figured I will deal with it if it comes up but she rarely talks about it in front of others. And I think out of all of us I miss xmas the most. But we have learned to make joyous occasions out of the Jewish Holidays and we do gifts on Chanukah (although just so you know some Jews do not). We have all adapted fine. My 11 yr old has really taken to Judaism and she was the one I worried about most.
Are your children boys or girls? I am only asking because I also want to bring up the fact that boys will have to have a Bris Milah or Hatafat dam brit. If they are older this may be scary to them and you may want to talk to a rabbi right away about how to deal with this delicately with them. If they are already circ'd then it will be easier (I think) because they will only need the drop of blood instead of the whole circumcision. Same for your DH.
I am not trying to scare you with this either...just want to make sure you are aware of things like this...it sucks to find some things out halfway through your conversion...lol.
Also as far as your kids are concerned I would start working on them about what you believe and what you don't believe. I mean how connected to Xianity and J*sus are they? If this is something that they discuss daily it will be hard to remove that from their minds. They have always been taught to believe this. YK? Maybe start by saying...we (you and dh) have found out that what you used to believe isn't as true as you wanted..etc..find ways to explain it to them. I don't have much advice in that area because we weren't xian before becoming Jewish.

StarJune gave you a great book list...If I get a chance I will add a few for you.
post #31 of 64
Someone more knowledgeable than I am will need to weigh in on this, but my understanding is that it can take a few years for you to convert yourself, and then you would convert the children afterwards. But if your DS is 13 by then, he could make his own decision, right? So you only would be responsible for converting the younger two.
post #32 of 64
Thread Starter 
Melanie,

thanks for your thoughts.

My kids are 1, 5 and 10 and all but the littles have been raise dwith Christianity as a main staple in their lives. So yeah, it's taking some time to "detox" from that idea for sure. We've been talking about it. iwas truthful with my oldest - I told him I wanted to know more about Christainity and I started reading more of the "OT" and the more i read the more i wanted to understand it and then eventually I began to realize there wa a lot missing in my understanding etc... and that eventually brought me to Judaism. He knew something was up because we just kinda stopped with a lot of the stuff we used to do regularly (sing christian songs, having regulalr christian bible stories, read the "NT" etc...) and started focusing on what we used to know as the old testemant. so yeah I think he was smart enough to realize it without havign to even be told. But since then we are all very open talking about it. At first he was a little unnerved... but now? just a few months later and he actualy asks to learn about Torah and what not allon his own. My hsuband and I talk about it a lot and his listens, so he picks up things and wants to know.

about circumcision. My son has never been circed. I have not brought it up to him yet in full b/c we decided to talk to a rabbi about it first for advise. He's not little so we want him to choose Judaism for himself. it would be different completelty if he was little (we would circ on little one with his permission for the official conversion as he's just a littles one). But my oldest has been old enough to have a say over his own body parts and his own religious feelings for a while now. He's a seeker ... (wonder where he gets that from!?) so my husband and i agree it would be wrong to push him so close tohim coming of age. BUT... we need to discuss this with a rabbi. I figure he's so close to beign able ot decideon his own anyhow that by the time we work our way up to those things he's practically be there anyhow.but... yeah. we do KNOW about it. and all he really knows yet is that it is a HUGE commitment and he would have to makes some changes that might be uncomfortable for him etc... so yeah. would we wait to convert the ame time he is old enough to decide? would they let us convert before him? or??? I don't know yet. everyone online has a differing opinion so we wanna actually talk to a Rabbi about it.

You're not scaring me at all, honestly. I need to here about these things. I am trying to educate myself on the logistics as best as I can. It's good to have these things to think about.

I'm feeling better today. Some days I just feel kinda... overwhelmed. I never feel like I want to go back or not move fwd. sometimes I just feel lke... I don't know. maybe a little outta my comfort zone?
post #33 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
Someone more knowledgeable than I am will need to weigh in on this, but my understanding is that it can take a few years for you to convert yourself, and then you would convert the children afterwards. But if your DS is 13 by then, he could make his own decision, right? So you only would be responsible for converting the younger two.
yes this is my understanding too...
post #34 of 64
i am not jewish or christian, but i want to chime in and say that i also value your courage and your journey.

i am really excited for you, and excited to see what you discover about yourself.

raised catholic, i *always* loved judaism. my mother also has strong jewish leanings--her feelings being "jesus was a jew, so why aren't we?" well, her answer to that is because she does believe Jesus is God, and Jews do not, so there yu have it. And she thinks messianic judaism is "not really judaism." (i can't understand my mother, i'm just giving this as background to how i was raised). I actually got to study hebrew with a reform rabbi in high school (a gift!) and we worked on the torah and talmud. it was *awesome*.

strangely, though, i never felt compelled to become jewish, because i saw a different vision of God/Divine than that. I also practiced yoga and zen meditation at that time (high school; i still continue these now), and it took years for me to 'shake off' the christianity with which i was raised. it was hard to let go of a culture in which one is raised. I consider myself buddhist, really, even though we have yet to find a community that fits for us at this point. we do work on that (though my husband is happy not being buddhist or having a community and just meditating. i don't know why men seem rather prone to this, in general).

I think it is amazing how community focused judaism is, and it is something that i value. western buddhist communities are great, but tough when you have children (there are very few child-focused programs like "sabbath school" or first day school or what have you. ).

so, yeah. i'm rambling now. anyway, thanks for sharing your journey!
post #35 of 64
btw, circumcision isn't required in orthodoxy, from my understanding. it is considered an option to mark the community and enter a covenant, but choosing to not do it does not mean that there is any spiritual inhibition between the child and G-d or the child and the wider community.

i know that a lot of people do choose to circ for religious reasons, but in both of the primary religions where this is practiced, it is something that is *optional* and not spiritually demanded. that is, according to the more orthodox writings on the subject that i have found (and by orthodox, i don't mean "Orthodox Judaism" as a label, but just more traditional, orthodox writings). over the centuries, many jews have opted--at different times--to circ and not circ their children for a variety of reasons. so, just something to look into as well.

though, your rabbi will likely cover that material anyway.
post #36 of 64
zoebird, I would say that it's pretty widely you must circ your sons. If you dont' circ them, they must circ themselves when they come of age.

At least on the learning hebrew part, you can do it. It'll take time though. I'm actually finding I'm starting to learn it on my own (without actively studying it). I've been going to shabbat services for a year, and studied the letters a little bit, and I'm actually starting to get to the point where I don't have to sound out all the words, some I'm coming to recognize as they are without sounding them out, and I can sound out faster, and I'm learning more hebrew words regularly. I worked on sounding out hebrew a few months ago for a bit, and put it down and just let services familiarize myself with it, and now it's coming pretty easily when I'm coming back to it. It seems really daunting, however you'll feel so proud of yourself when you finally can start to read it a little bit.

I don't know how your kids will feel about no christmas, however, shabbat is pretty much the ultimate kid's holiday to me (and adult holiday), and it comes every week. It's so sensory. the prayers and songs, the candles, the juice/wine and challah, the special table setting, the favorite shabbos dishes served every week.
post #37 of 64
H'P, good luck with your search.




Quote:
Originally Posted by zoebird View Post
btw, circumcision isn't required in orthodoxy, from my understanding. it is considered an option to mark the community and enter a covenant, but choosing to not do it does not mean that there is any spiritual inhibition between the child and G-d or the child and the wider community.

i know that a lot of people do choose to circ for religious reasons, but in both of the primary religions where this is practiced, it is something that is *optional* and not spiritually demanded. that is, according to the more orthodox writings on the subject that i have found (and by orthodox, i don't mean "Orthodox Judaism" as a label, but just more traditional, orthodox writings). over the centuries, many jews have opted--at different times--to circ and not circ their children for a variety of reasons. so, just something to look into as well.

though, your rabbi will likely cover that material anyway.

That's not at all correct, zoe'd. It *is* required.

Over the millenia, Jews have opted not to circ for a variety of reasons. But their choice not to doesn't remove the obligation at all. It was their choice. Brit milah is an obligation/requirement.

Judaism does have that, obligations and requirements.
post #38 of 64
As i understand it, it is an obligation that you can choose to opt out of for a variety of reasons--and many of those reasons have been enumerated over the centuries. choosing to opt out of it does not mean that you are not jewish, does not impact the individual's relationship between self and the divine, and does not impact on the individual's relationship with the wider community. The obligation is still there, but you never have to choose it to be fully aligned with G-d or fully aligned with the community as a whole (which i believe are the two most important aspects underlying most of judaism--again, based on my understanding of it).

I agree that learning hebrew will work out no problem. I'm super rusty (i haven't even thought of it in twenty years) but when my friend speaks it (she's israeli), i remember the cadence and am able to pick it up after a few days around her. i can read most of what her calendar says (which she keeps in hebrew and english, so it's funny in that way--some things she wants her son, aged 10, to read, so that is in english, and others she keeps private so she writes in hebrew).

but the main thing is to relax and open your mind to it--first to the rhythms, then to the shapes of the letters, and then to the words and meanings. this is what worked well for me anyway. going to services helped immensely.

and man, thinking on it, i was one weird 14-17 yr old. services on friday (reform jewish), services on sunday (catholic), services on wednesday (buddhist). seriously, what was wrong with me? LOL
post #39 of 64
A born-Jew will remain Jewish whether or not he is circumcised, but it is not possible for a man or boy to convert to Judaism without being circumcised. The conversion simply will not be accepted by the beit din.
post #40 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolar2 View Post
A born-Jew will remain Jewish whether or not he is circumcised, but it is not possible for a man or boy to convert to Judaism without being circumcised. The conversion simply will not be accepted by the beit din.
this is what I was about to say.


It is my understanding that a born Jew is Jew regardless of what they keep... but a convert has to be a kosher convert in order to be Jew. (meaning keeping the requirements)
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...ost&p=15639507
Jews are a people regardless b/c their mother was Jewish. My mother wasn't Jewish so the only way to become Jewish is to keep the laws after my conversion. But if I didn't convert I could still believe in the same God, but not be a Jew and I wouldn't need to keep those laws (only the laws that apply to all men)

am I right? (feel free to add if I'm missing anything) I've been reading a lot and talking to a few (orthodox) rabbis....
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