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Converting to Judaism- need advice - Page 3

post #41 of 245
I honestly have nothing but the greatest respect for converts (and for those who became religious later in life).

I have more to say but the kids are calling and need to be bathed for shabbos.
post #42 of 245
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input Sara.




I have also been thinking about the idea of being religious (as in my previous post) and the friend that suggested that the community that I wanted to live in was not "religious" enough. Is religious synonymous with observant? Because to me, they are seeking G-d, trying to learn more and hoping to become closer to what the Torah asks. I would not classify that as not being religious. I would define someone who is secular, does not believe but lives culturally as a Jew as not being religious. (Of course I do understand her reasonings in regards to my conversion.)

Any thoughts?
post #43 of 245
Like most things in life, people define things differently. For example, someone who is not fully observant (or is barely) but is slowly taking things on with the intentions of observing all of the commandments, what are they considered?

I don't know the community you are talking about to fully understand what is meant by them being religious or not or orthodox or not.
post #44 of 245
I agree with Sara.

Also you may find that, as with most things in life, people have their own "vocabulary" and context is everything.

I am also a ba'alas teshuva, meaning I am Jewish by birth and grew up in Reform Judaism, and am now a Torah-observant Jew ("frum" in Jew-speak ).

So while I have no experience with conversion, per se, I do get frequent questions about why I would consider doing something that would make my life more "difficult" or "anti feminist" or living an "archaic" lifestyle .

Many times in the context of the Jewish community, when someone refers to a person being "religious" they are speaking specifically of where the person is holding on the spectrum of mitzva observance. It is not necessarily about how "spiritual" their life is. Are they shomer shabbos? Are they shomer kashrus? Are they keeping the laws of family purity (taharas hamishpacha)? Then they are "religious."

Not really an accurate term, per se. It would be much more accurate to say the person was mitzva observant in the following way: shomer shabbos, etc. But that is the lexicon. There is actually a book called "Frumspeak" which is a funny look at the vocab of the Orthodox Jewish communities.

Unfortunately when the term "religious" is used that way, it addresses NOT AT ALL where a person is holding on the spectrum of trying to achieve "dvaykus" with Hashem. well, maybe that's not true. Keeping mitzvos is a way of approaching Hashem -- that's why He gave them to us in the Torah. But on the other hand, there are lots of people on a journey to mitzva observance, and small steps are important (I became a veggie before I kept kosher, because I didn't know how to keep kosher...did that make me less religious? It made me not yet shomer kashrus really, but I felt that at that time, I was becoming closer to Hashem).

Did that make any sense at all? If not, sorry.

In any event, it's probably easier to understand those kinds of comments/questions when you get the context of the vocab. It also feels a lot less insulting , at least that was the case for me.

post #45 of 245
Thread Starter 
I went to a ladies Torah studies class this morning. It is a different one than I usually attend and it was fabulous. I highly admire the thought and analysis that occurs in Judaism. The Rabbi asked questions of the group, explained concepts and really challenged my thinking. I prefer it to someone talking and expecting you to just absorb and accept without critique.

He made the joke: Where there are 3 jews... there are 4 opinions .

We did a study on Korach in the book of Numbers. Needless to say, I absolutely must take Hebrew! Last year I signed up for an intensive course at my university which is taught by a visiting Israeli professor but it was canceled due to the special funding being denied for the grant. I must register for something else though. I know the gist of what he is saying and he does "translate" sometimes but I would feel more confident if I knew more vocabulary. But others were not afraid to guess if they didn't know so that was good.

I appreciate the input on the religious issue. I guess there is much more to learn than textbook knowledge. The nuances within the community will be learned once I am a part of it.
post #46 of 245
A lot of things are often learned by taking part in the community. You might call it the "culture". Certain words, etc... might also need a little experience to fully learn (like the example Nicole gave above regarding the definition of "religious").

Please feel free to ask us any questions that may arise. Nothing should be considered too simple, foolish or minor.
post #47 of 245
Thread Starter 
This week I have been reading about the Jewish soul. It's interesting because I have always felt that a part of me has always been Jewish even though I never had any Jewish influences around me. It seems that it just fits and I am coming home. I think Amy (merpk) made reference to Sinai and finding the best view to it by our own path. Maybe my soul has always been connected?



Nickarolaberry, the definition of religious that you gave really does fit in my "frum" community.

Especially: "Many times in the context of the Jewish community, when someone refers to a person being "religious" they are speaking specifically of where the person is holding on the spectrum of mitzva observance. It is not necessarily about how "spiritual" their life is. Are they shomer shabbos? Are they shomer kashrus? Are they keeping the laws of family purity (taharas hamishpacha)? Then they are "religious." "

And it does make sense to me. I have to get that book "Frumspeak". I guess I have a lot to learn .




I do have another question. Why is the Holocaust never discussed in religious circles? Now that I look back, I can see that the education week events, book readings and seminars that I attended were done by "secular" Jews. My personal study of it and the impact of it was a factor on my path to Judaism. But I don't see that depth of discussion anymore. For example... my chabad library does not have any books about it. Why?
post #48 of 245
Hi Lexy,

I'm interested in how your doing? Are you going to continue with the last ladies group you found? It sounds good.

I just finished reading the book, "My Sister the Jew", very good.

We are still attending the conservative synagogue and loving it. (Even dh is going!!) They are offering adult Hebrew this fall. Your probably past that, but maybe a congregation in your area will offer something this fall.
post #49 of 245
Thread Starter 
I am doing very well. I will probably attend both groups because they are both beneficial even though different. The first one is one that I have attended since last spring and it's taught by my rebbetzin. The ladies are great and it is the basics for all of us. One evening we had challah making class. So very relaxed and informal with most at an early learning stage. This group is taught by a Rabbi in the chabad community centre so these ladies are far more advanced, but the challenge is good for me.

I am glad that you and your husband are enjoying the conservative synagogue. What appeals to you most? Is it very different from your previous reform synagogue?

And I must find Hebrew classes. I have taken out a Biblical Hebrew language study from the library and I listen to it before bed. I am getting familiar with the pronunciations.

I really appreciate everyone's input. It's nice to have virtual support .
post #50 of 245
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lexy View Post
I do have another question. Why is the Holocaust never discussed in religious circles? Now that I look back, I can see that the education week events, book readings and seminars that I attended were done by "secular" Jews. My personal study of it and the impact of it was a factor on my path to Judaism. But I don't see that depth of discussion anymore. For example... my chabad library does not have any books about it. Why?
I honestly can't answer your question since I've seen plenty of Holocaust books in religious libraries. Artscroll, a religious publisher has a whole section http://www.artscroll.com/Categories/hol.html on the Holocaust.

Maybe someone else can tell you a better answer.
post #51 of 245
I can try that one.

There's a whole generation of Jews, specifically in the US, whose entire Jewish identity is wrapped up in the Holocaust. They're connected only because of the Holocaust. They think all of Judaism is remembering the Holocaust and honoring the victims and remembering the nonstop victimization of Jews through the millenia.

They don't have much else to hold on to Jewishly. They're not interested in Torah, or maybe they just never learned enough about it, and they need something to hold on to. And IMO that's where they're holding, as they say.


In Orthodox circles Judaism is from Torah, from three millenia of striving for G!d-connection ... which is the whole purpose of religion, right? Yes, Orthodox Jews remember the Holocaust (though not necessarily on Yom haShoah) and learn about it, etc., etc. ... but there's a whole lot of other things going on Jewishly all the time. Heck, the single most important day of the Jewish year occurs every single week. And the whole of Judaism is about serving G!d with joy ... ivdu et HaShem b'simkha ... and not about obsession with death.


Although there's a whole lot of other deaths the Orthodox spend a lot of time on that the secular community doesn't. The five fast days that relate to the various events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem are each commemorations of destruction of Jewish communities; every time we bench (grace after meals) we remember the slaughter at Beitar; and on and on. Not only doesn't the secular community commemorate those events, they don't even know about them.



In sum, it's not that the Orthodox don't pay attention to the Holocaust. It's that the secular are obsessed with it.




Okay, I just want to clarify that my comments are in re secular Jewish community, not in re the liberal denominations. So please no one get all offended.
post #52 of 245
Very interesting Amy.
post #53 of 245
I might say that Orthodox Jews remember all our losses in many ways throughout the year, not just at one time, and not just one event. The whole of the history of the Jewish people is very much alive in O. observances.
post #54 of 245
Amy - I don't remember who said it, but I heard a rabbi rail against the "religion and culture of death" that US Jewry has created in Holocaust memorials, remembrance days, museums. He said, 'what a great way to keep kids Jewish. Tell them over and over, "you must remember to be a proud Jew b/c someone will come along and want to kill you". ' Way to send kids running

The other opposition you hear a lot is that the archetypal Jew that kids learn about in the Holocaust is the "Anne Frank Jew" - the secular, Westernized Jew. It ignores the majority of European Jewry that was Orthodox and tell you nothing about what it meant to be a Jew in that time and place.
post #55 of 245
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2seven View Post
Amy - I don't remember who said it, but I heard a rabbi rail against the "religion and culture of death" that US Jewry has created in Holocaust memorials, remembrance days, museums. He said, 'what a great way to keep kids Jewish. Tell them over and over, "you must remember to be a proud Jew b/c someone will come along and want to kill you". ' Way to send kids running

The other opposition you hear a lot is that the archetypal Jew that kids learn about in the Holocaust is the "Anne Frank Jew" - the secular, Westernized Jew. It ignores the majority of European Jewry that was Orthodox and tell you nothing about what it meant to be a Jew in that time and place.


It's so good at ask questions because I had considered some of the responses given above and this was a thought (bold).

Also, I wanted to know the experience of Orthodox Jews during the Holocaust and I can't find much info. There are great books at the site Sara provided so I'll just have to order online. A large Jewish bookstore in my city with 7-8 stores closed down awhile ago and I need to find other sources. This info is important to me because I was only taught this from a Christian perspective.
post #56 of 245
Hi, I just wanted to say "hi!", We had kind of an unusual journey into Judaism. We were raised fundamental Baptist. DH got invovled with the Messianic Jewish movement, and when he met me started teaching me alot about Judaism. We've been married 5 years, and all this time have been growing in Torah observance - not to the extent we hope to be some day, but we are working on it (not so much observance of the halacha - though we respect it as useful information). We took Hebrew classes in college and have studied here and there. More and more we felt that we belonged with the Jewish people. After our son was born, and we had to make the circumcision choice, we really felt compelled to make our relationship with the Jewish people official. Our synagogue here is Reform; our rabbi was raised Orthodox and is very traditional, but believes in the Reform movement. After talking with him, he told us that we had been converting all along, and he was happy to make it official for us. We had a meeting with the bet din, mikvahed (dh had to get the cermonial circ since he was already medically circed - his comment, ow! - ds was fine since he had been done by an orthodox mohel) and answered the questions. I have just an incredible sense of peace about it - I really feel we did as God led us. Our parents are supportive - my folks took it harder than dh's. Other people have been less supportive - we don't really go around advertising that we are Jewish to people we grew up with. They already new we did Jewish things; we just leave it at that. I try hard to say "I'm Jewish" and not throw in "I converted" - but it just happened pretty recently, so I still slip up sometimes.
post #57 of 245
Lexy, if you want more books suggestions, I'm more than happy to provide some. There is actually a large amount out there on the Orthodox Jewish community during the Holocaust.
post #58 of 245
Thread Starter 
2bluefish- Interesting journey! I came out of a Pentecostal background, moved to Non-denominational, then Baptist. Each was a step further away for me. How was it moving from Messianic to Reform J? I still have a hard time verbalizing my thoughts on this matter. It was so ingrained and now I feel so duped. Maybe not duped, but inadvertently misled.

I long for the day when I can say that I am Jewish. I know that by the time this is all over I will never say the word convert again .



Sara- I would like some recommendations. I am already ordering The Final Solution is Life and Shoah/ A Jewish Perspective on the Holocaust, so any other ideas will be great. I love to read and I want to build my library.
post #59 of 245
Hehe, moving from Messianic to Reform - well, it just kind of happened as we studied. The biggest thing is long ago we rejected the idea of the Trinity, seeing that it came from paganism. Messianics are all over the board on that one. We rejected the idea of the Torah being "replaced" with the new covenant - most Messianics do reject that too. We picked up Aryeh Kaplan book "The Real Messiah?" the other day and reread it and found very little to argue. He's right. I would love nothing better than to have Y'shua return some day and fulfill all the prophesies and join God fearing people together. But the fact is the prophesies to date have not been fulfilled, and so really, little has changed. If your God is the God of Israel, then it's pretty clear in the Torah what's expected. There is the whole idea of Bnai Noach - but we never felt that that was what God wanted for us.

There's the whole idea of the "Lost Tribes" being scattered throughout humanity and returning in the form of converts - I like it, but who knows.

And then there is the shema - "Hear oh Israel, Hashem is God, Hashem is one." Just seems to me that if God came to earth in the form of a man and left scriptures as an addendum to Judaism, that he would have made sure his real true name was in those scriptures, so there would be no confusion. Hashem is my God, and anyone by any other name is not.

That's how we made the mental move. But honestly, I have felt led by God since childhood. I feel like I am on a spiritual journey, and my up bringing was part of that. I don't feel like I was wrong then and right now, just that I was at the start then and now I'm in the middle.

Blessings to you on your journey!
post #60 of 245
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
I would love nothing better than to have Y'shua return some day and fulfill all the prophesies and join God fearing people together. But the fact is the prophesies to date have not been fulfilled, and so really, little has changed.


Hi.

Just wanted to clarify something here. The Reform movement also (like the rest of the Jews) does not believe that "Y'shua" is the messiah. They also do not believe that he or anyone else messiah-like is "returning." Belief in a messiah "returning" is a Christian one. It is *not* a Jewish concept and is totally antithetical to any Jewish belief system.

The Mashiakh is expected to get it right the first time (hence no need to return). And Mashiakh has not yet come.





Am sure that was a slip of the tongue/keyboard, and you meant to say you'd love nothing better than Mashiakh coming in the first place. In which case, then, I agree with you.
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