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Switch to Forum Live View New to Bnet, v. Conflicted about Reform Conversion
2 years ago  ::  Dec 17, 2011 - 11:06PM #1
Bluestocking
Posts: 1
Hello everyone ... I converted many years ago, as did my then very-young daughter.  My husband of many years (decades!) is a garden variety secular humanist who had great love and suport for my choice, but did not convert.

As the years have gone by, I have, *painfully*, realized the Judaism is not in my DNA.  I love it,
I studied hard, I embraced many mitzvot, had a beit dein and mikvah, etc.  But it is not *who I am
in my kishkes.*

I read recently that people who have relocated often in childhood have identity problems and I think this might be the case with me.  My parents were in the foreign service, I grew up all over the world.
Anyway, I'm not feeling it.  Not one bit.  What should I do?

Thanks all and I'll appreciate thoughtful reponses as this is a struggle for me. 
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 18, 2011 - 3:16PM #2
Pam34
Posts: 2,638

Without knowing you, I don't know whether to address the 'intellectual' aspects - theology, philosophy, ethics - or the 'emotional' aspects - community, family, traditions.



Of course, as you know, conversion is 'irrevocable'. You can't get a do-over, or take it back later. You can certainly stop practicing Judaism, but Judaism won't read you out of the tribe - it will just consider you a backslider...



And - just as a personal note, because I'm a convert too - it will make it hard for all converts, now and in future, because 'born Jews' will point to those who 'leave' and ask why they should welcome converts in the first place, if they aren't 'really sincere'? (how anybody is supposed to look twenty years down the road and understand if they are or aren't 'sincere' is beyond me).


but I suppose you know that, too.



That said - you might want to do some exploration of your own personal 'whys and wherefores'. What made you pursue conversion initially, and did you have some unrealized expectations? What does Judaism 'do', or 'not do', that leaves you wanting something more, or less, or at least, something ELSE.



And what about your daughter?



Being a Jew comes in many flavors, and one of them is believing as a Jew, one is behaving as a Jew, and the third is simply 'belonging' as a Jew. What I've found, over the years, is that a lot of converts start at 'believing' and then learn about 'behaving', but internalizing the 'belonging' aspect is harder. But it is an indissoluble part of becoming a Jew and a member of the Jewish people. You can cease to believe as a Jew (and even convert to some non-Jewish religion), and you can cease to behave as a Jew - but how do you stop 'belonging', when a conversion essentially grafted you in? The other two - belief and behavior - are in your own power, but the belonging aspect isn't one-sided.



And, of course, because everything Jewish comes around to this eventually - have you talked to your rabbi about this? (do you HAVE a rabbi you can talk to about this?)


Like I said, I don't really know you, so I don't know exactly where you are coming from - possibly nothing I wrote has any relevance at all! But if you want to write, you can send me a private message, and I'll be happy to correspond with you anytime.


Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 24, 2011 - 4:52PM #3
SHeM1
Posts: 1

Hi. The most important thing, and the thing that almost everyone seems to miss(!) is that religion is (should be) about having a relationship with your Creator. Foundational Torah belief is that one of the most amazing and compassionate things that G-d created was the ability for a finite creation (us) to have an intimate relationship with a Creator so vast that He/She is not infinite, but rather created infinty. Intimacy is only present when there is open heart communication. In Torah philosophy, that open heart communication is Prayer.


In Torah, there are two types of prayer--the structured prayer organized by the Sages of the Great Assembly which are set Hebrew words Kabbalistically ordered to draw down the proper types and amounts of Spiritual Light which a neshamah needs(A neshamah is specific type of soul which resonates with the Light called "kedushah") and equally important, but different, one's personal prayer which is ideally spoken in one's native tongue and ideally is like a conversation with your best friend.


That being the case, I highly suggest you talk to your Creator and tell Him/Her the truth about how you feel and the confusion and fear, etc you may be experiencing. Even though G-d knows all this, there is a special power when you speak the truth about your life with G-d. Try it... you'll see for yourself. 

Then ask G-d for the truth of what your soul needs and keep asking until your heart gives you a clear answer.


Plus, I suggest you look at The Lulav Technique for effective prayer--an easy-to-use 26 page booklet. see: www.thelulavtechnique.blogspot.com. Much success! 

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2011 - 12:48AM #4
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

Dec 17, 2011 -- 11:06PM, Bluestocking wrote:

...Anyway, I'm not feeling it.  Not one bit.  What should I do?
.... 




BS"D


If you find something for which you feel better then you should embrace it wholeheartedly IMHO.  It is possible to be a secular humanist and still be a Jew.  You do not need to be religiously observant.   If violating a mitzvo does not cause you any personal conflict whatsoever, then it is OK.  If you feel something is wrong inside of you when you violate a mitzvo then perhaps you need to deepen your religious understanding and observance to match your intellectual accomplishments. 


You are not enslaved to the Jewish people.  Living Jewish is a journey.  It has its ups and downs.  If you feel drawn to something else then embrace it.  If you find you are experiencing some personal conflict between your Judaism and whatever else you feel better about, seek to resolve it within yourself.  And if you have specific questions that your community rabbi cannot answer please feel free to post them (minus personal identifying information of course) here and we can help.


Jews exist in as many varieties as there are in humanity at large.  Feeling is not the essence of your identity, but merely an occasional or self-cultivated by-product IMHO.

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 26, 2011 - 4:09PM #5
Calmone
Posts: 2

I don't think what you are feeling is all that unusual. I've known many converts, and some


tend to lessen their involvement in Judaism, or to loosen their observance. They are still


involved, but at a lesser extent....possibly because the "newness" has worn off. I think


this is especially true where only one member of a couple has converted.



I would suggest speaking to a rabbi/rabbis with your concerns.

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2 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 4:31PM #6
NotAnAtheistMama
Posts: 58

Dec 17, 2011 -- 11:06PM, Bluestocking wrote:

Hello everyone ... I converted many years ago, as did my then very-young daughter.  My husband of many years (decades!) is a garden variety secular humanist who had great love and suport for my choice, but did not convert.

As the years have gone by, I have, *painfully*, realized the Judaism is not in my DNA.  I love it,
I studied hard, I embraced many mitzvot, had a beit dein and mikvah, etc.  But it is not *who I am
in my kishkes.*

I read recently that people who have relocated often in childhood have identity problems and I think this might be the case with me.  My parents were in the foreign service, I grew up all over the world.
Anyway, I'm not feeling it.  Not one bit.  What should I do?

Thanks all and I'll appreciate thoughtful reponses as this is a struggle for me. 



Are you not feeling Jewish or do you no longer agree with Judaism as a religion which you practice?


I read a book on conversion which made the distinction clear for me: there are cultural Jews and religious Jews. Not all Jews are religious--they are the ones that identify, culturally, with Jewishness. Likewise, not all religous Jews may identify culturally with Jews (and there are plenty of Jews who fall into both camps or neither).


Many converts have difficulty identifying with Jews on a cultural level, because most converts are converts first and foremost because they have a love of Judaism (meaning the religion), not because they love all things Jewish (there are people like this, but it's not the majority).


I find, sometimes, that my own cultural upbringing (Southern U.S.) doesn't mesh well with traditional Ashkenazi Jewish culture. I'll admit it: I hate bagels. To me they're a sad, stale doughnut. I live way out in the country where there aren't any other Jews and I have to commute to synagogue. I had to make up my own Hanukkah traditions this year because I didn't have any that were passed down to me from family members (although, needless to say, I rejoiced at the eating of doughnuts). To me, a good Shabbat meal includes fried chicken.


I am in the process of making my own tallit and I am decorating it with beads (beads are what I do). I have thirteen beaded Stars of David that I am putting on it--one for each of the 12 Tribes and one for those of us who are converts and who, technically, belong to no tribe, but who are still important and who still count.


If you are not feeling Jewish, know that is normal and is something that pretty much all converts wrestle with. That does not mean that you're not a Jew and doesn't mean that you can't continue to practice Judaism.

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2 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 9:16PM #7
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

BS"D


Interesting bit on the Bagel:


theamericanscholar.org/circular-bread-li...

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2 years ago  ::  Jan 04, 2012 - 10:46PM #8
Pam34
Posts: 2,638

Judaism - and the Jewish people - have accomodated or adopted various ethnic customs, foods and practices from the surrounding cultures before - and they will just have to do it again. Bagels do not make a Jew, nor chopped liver either (I don't care for either), and there's not one thing wrong with fried chicken for Shabbat dinner.



Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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2 years ago  ::  Jan 05, 2012 - 5:23PM #9
NotAnAtheistMama
Posts: 58

Let me clarify a bit on my parable of the bagel (lol). I know that I can be a Jew regardless of where I stand on bagel consumption. I meant for bagels to be an allegory for Jewish culture at large. Some people feel less than Jewish if they don't feel an attachment for traditional Jewish cultural items--e.g. bagels, gefilte fish, etc. But you don't have to feel a cultural attachment to be a Jew. I'm not culturally Jewish and doubt I will ever feel that I'm culturally Jewish, but that does not make me less of a Jew. It's enough that I'm religiously a Jew and that I claim the Jewish people as my people. I can claim the Jewish people as my people without eating gefilte fish on bagels. Lol.


I have a friend who has tried to be supportive of my decision to convert, but she clearly has a somewhat negative view of Jews. She has pointed out, several times, that her roommate in college was Jewish, and all she ever learned about Jewishness from this girl is that gefilte fish in jellied broth looks really nasty and smells even worse. When we were together for the holidays, she asked me if I was doing a Christmas tree and I told her no. She said, "all the rest of them do. I haven't met a Jew yet who doesn't. And bacon; they all eat bacon."


Clearly the Jews Carla was hanging out with were cultural Jews--they identified themselves as Jewish, even though they were not religiously practicing. She finds it odd that I call myself a Jew when I do not eat pork or celebrate Christmas at home, but I also do not eat bagels and gefilte fish. I don't think she understands that there are religious Jews and cultural Jews and they may, but do not always, overlap. And that you can still be a Jew even if you eat bacon or even if you don't eat gefilte fish.


We are more than our food habits. We are more than the holidays we celebrate. We're not a race or a religion or a culture, but a people. You can be a black Jew or a religious Jew or a cultural Jew (or all three), but the important part is that you're always a Jew.

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2 years ago  ::  Jan 05, 2012 - 9:23PM #10
Pam34
Posts: 2,638

Absolutely correct! Remember, there were Jews before there were bagels, and not every Jew in America comes from a family out of Eastern Europe, either. Jewish culture is as varied as the Jewish people.

Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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