Friday, February 2, 2007

Please help me think rationally

I read something recently about reasons to dissuade potential converts and money was one of the reasons. If someone couldn't afford what it would cost to be Jewish (ritual items, shul dues, donations, schools, clothing, mikvah, Pesach food, etc) then they shouldn't convert no matter how much they may want to be Jewish or how much they love Judaism and Jews. Because the community has enough of "their own" to support financially.

I'm afraid to think this could apply to emotional needs as well.

Assuming an acceptable, halachically valid conversion, no matter that the convert is supposed to be now accepted as if he or she were born Jewish, are converts still sort of like second-class citizens when it comes to their needs because the community has enough of "their own" (born Jewish) to support, even emotionally?

Even given my history (my maternal grandmother was born and initially raised Jewish, yet through a convoluted family history involving a mysterious death, betrayal, adoption, and antisemitism, she was later baptized and rasied Christian), I fear that I have no right to ask the community for help, for support. They have enough of "their own" to worry about.

Is this the depression talking? Is this irrational thinking that's all twisted? Or is it true and I have no one? Who do I turn to? Where do I go for help?

8 comments:

mother in israel said...

are converts still sort of like second-class citizens when it comes to their needs because the community has enough of "their own" (born Jewish) to support, even emotionally?

No. You should try to erase such an attitude from your mind. Converts are full Jews, and born-Jews are not allowed to remind converts of their status. I suggest speaking to your rabbi about this. Hopefully he will know how to help you.

Shavua tov.

tab said...

I second what MII said and would like to add that anyone who would put that in writing needs to be challenged. Any Jew who has that attitude needs to have it excised from their mind by a rabbi or other Jewish community professional who commands respect.

Ezzie said...

No, I'm with MiI as well.

The two are very dissimilar: We're required to try and dissuade potential converts not because the community has enough of 'their own' to support, but because it is extremely difficult and they may be disappointed at some point in the future.

But once someone converts, the opposite approach becomes not just suggested, but required: To treat a convert exactly as we would anybody else.

There's no reason this wouldn't apply for emotional needs as well.

Jack's Shack said...

You are a part of the family. Period, end of story.

Rivka said...

mother in israel: I know he would agree with you. He knew when I was learning for my conversion about my episodic depression and he made sure that didn't have anything to do with my wanting to reclaim my Jewish ancestry (it didn't). He also made sure that I was in a good period of stability before the bais din. My rational mind says if this was a reason for exclusion, he would have said so. My emotions fear the worst.

tab: the money thing was in writing but the writer said he didn't agree with it. Just that it existed and many who worked with conversion candidates went by that (the money). It was my own twisted thinking tried to extrapolate from financial support to emotional support.

ezzie: there are a handful of not so nice people at shul who do remind me, frequently and publicly and loudly, of my status as a convert. One in particular said I didn't have Jewish blood so no matter how I acted and talked and believed, it didn't matter. I wasn't Jewish enough and that was that. She didn't care about my grandmother unless I had more proof than just letters. I was so embarrassed the last time that I avoid her whenever I can. I will mention my concerns the next time I talk to my rabbi.

jack: that's what I want, more than anything. :)

Ayelet said...

It is written quite explicitly in the written Torah (not the gemara which is the oral tradition) that we must take extra care to avoid causing pain to converts (as well as widows and orphans). Any behavior contrary to that is despicable and prohibited!

Ezzie said...

Rivka - Wow. People who can say things like that have far more serious problems. Ignore such foolish and despicable comments.

Rivka said...

You mean for once I'm not the one who needs therapy? ;)