This was a thoughtful and enlightening piece. Thank you.
"Who in (their) right mind would give up Peter Luger's, burritos or a Whopper, forever? Who would trade away real music to listen to a lifetime of male prepubescent screeching? You have to be out of your mind to give all that up! Jews are born into it, well, that's one thing. but to do it willingly?"This has been said to me multiple times, and it is one of the most sad things I have even heard in my life. I am always amazed when I hear mussar shmuzes about how empty the secular world is, how all the glamor of the outside world and its pleasures is really not what it seems, how Torah gives life meaning and true happiness, and so on. To me, having come from that, it is so obvious it doesn't even need to be said. Since these shumzes exist, though, I assume that many ffb's actually think like this. I really wish there was some way that they could really understand how true it is without ever trying any of those things. I think that the main thing that gerim like myself find troubling is shidduchim. Up until that point, you think that you are accepted, but then you realize that around 100% of fbb families would never so much as consider you. Even if one or both parents are BTs, your chances aren't so great. At first, you think that there is no difference in their eyes between you and a BT, but then you realize that you are not even close. With the possible exception of a case where you are a tremendous talmid chacham or have a lot of money, you are respected in much the same way that a upper class individual would look at a recovering heroin addict. Sure, they respect him and admire his courage and strength to overcome obstacles, but they still consider him to be inferior. I'm not saying that this is groundless - a lot of bt's and gerim really don't have the background and experience that ffb's do, and maybe there is good reason for the shidduchim schism (although I'm not really sure exactly what it is). It still disturbs us, though.
I just want to add that in general every community I have lived in or even visited has been extraordinarily good to me, especially in contrast to the secular world. Even though there are issues on both sides, the truth is that it is pretty good overall. Thanks for these posts, Rabbi Eidensohn.
A very sweet post to put some perspective back in the conversation. Thanks for writing it.
Thank you, Growing Up. From what I've seen I think Michal's reactions are understandable and justified, especially from a normal common sense point of view. Many of the comments she has mentioned are hurtful and insensitive, and she is right to be sensitive to them. It may help, though, to see things from a different perspective. Everything that happens in the world (even if it happens by way of free will) is done by Hashem, and everything Hashem does is for our very good -- exactly what we need at that moment for the growth of our neshamas toward achieving our tikkun in this life (Chassidus). Feeling anger is akin to idolatry or bloodshed (Gemara). Being insulted but not returning the insult, but being silent or responding with kindness, is considered a great accomplishment ("Let my soul be silent to those who curse me;" Likutei Moharan I 6:2, Likutei Eitzot, Honor:2). And we should always judge others favorably (Pirkei Avot).So when it occurs to someone to say something negative to a convert, or interrogate them -- this is the yetzer hara, giving them a test. Will they love the convert? If they fail and say these things, the convert has a test -- will she react with anger and resentment, and respond in kind or judge them harshly, or will she judge the people favorably, and accept this insult with love as being sent from Hashem?When people treat converts badly it is a sad reflection of their own lack of emuna, love of Judaism, and love of their fellow Jews. We should feel compassion for them -- what must it be like for them to be so insecure? And everyone should feel compassion and act with extra sensitivity and kindness to converts -- who knows what they have gone through? It's not easy but it's our task.None of this is to say Michal shouldn't have said anything she said -- it is potentially necessary and useful to air this kind of thing, so born-Jews see what converts go through and refrain from treating them badly. Of course it would also be nice to have a post from a convert with good experiences who has managed to have a fulfilling life in a community despite the occasional maltreatment.
Thank you for writing this.
sb said... I just want to add that in general every community I have lived in or even visited has been extraordinarily good to me, especially in contrast to the secular world. Even though there are issues on both sides, the truth is that it is pretty good overall. Thanks for these posts, Rabbi Eidensohn.================You are welcome. Before addressing your other points could you explain your positive response to these posts while Michal and Gioret have viewed them as attacks on them?
One thing to always keep in mind is not to mix up Jews and Judaism. Just because people say things and do things that may be insensitive...doesn't mean it is permissible to do.No one is condoning bad middos or conduct. We all have room to grow. It should not be a reflection of the community at large
SB wrote:I think that the main thing that gerim like myself find troubling is shidduchim. Up until that point, you think that you are accepted, but then you realize that around 100% of fbb families would never so much as consider you. Even if one or both parents are BTs, your chances aren't so great.======================Would you mind writing a post about this? Describe a little about your background. What your expectations were? What possible solutions do you see?If in fact this is something which you think is painful but understandable - do you think it should be mentioned clearly to prospective conversion candidates?
SB:"I think that the main thing that gerim like myself find troubling is shidduchim. "Didn't you tell me you were a BT, is there two "SB"s?Yeshaya"Of course it would also be nice to have a post from a convert with good experiences who has managed to have a fulfilling life in a community despite the occasional maltreatment." I have that on my blog. Daas said it wasn't thought provoking enough and declining posting it. Another thing I feel compelled to mention after reading these comments. Hashem has been telling me for YEARS... maybe 15... 20 of them... "Do not judge Me by my people. I give them free will and they use it-Oh, boy do they use it."
About shidduchim...The frum community has a crisis of epic proportions when it comes to shidduchim. It is imperative that geirim understand that their shidduch situations cannot and will not be resolved by a dysfunctional community. Here is another truth: given the realities today, geiring and bt's have a better grasp of what makes a marriage work. They, more than the ffb's ought to know that.FFB's have been taught that the sanctity of marriage elevates the corporeal, physical and day to day elements of marriage. Just the opposite is true. The ability to function within the day to day physical and material realities of a marriage are what elevated the kedusha of a marriage. We live in Olam Hazeh and we are meant to live here in the day to day.There are many reasons this is not always taught in the frum community, but suffice it to say relationships between husband and wife is not necessarily an area in which the frum community distinguishes itself.Geiring and bt's instinctively know this, but often times believe that part of their awareness and past are anchors, whereas in reality those experinces are wings. People who know and are aware of what real, day to day relationships understand what it takes to make them work.The truth is quite clear. We will all experience issues and problems in our day to day lives, with no exception. It is in how we deal with these problems that will determine the quality of our lives here and the quality of our spiritual essence.Geirim and bt's also know that the appropriate shidduchim they seek cannot emerge from what is a very broken system. Often, they wrongly see themselves as flawed- and that might be the farthest thing from the truth.The entire shidduch system presumes to nullify anyone they believed is 'flawed', even in the most minute way. Of course, this is absurd- everyone has flaws. Marriages work well when we understand that we love each other despite our flaws. Spouses do not love each other because they admire their partners kavanas in tefillah.More later including on how to address shidduchim for geiring and bt's if anyone is is interested.
I was told by the Chief rabbi,during an interview before conversion,that as a convert it would be hard to find a shidduch.However, I was very lucky and got married quick.Since my father was Jewish, not too many ppl know that I am a convertI lived in a community for 10 years, I know that some ppl knew that I was a convert (application in community),but, in the 10 years, only 1 person directly asked me ,privatley,if I was celebrating my birthday with the date of conversion (he asked me b/c his wife is a convert too)I moved to another city, and for the last 8 yars, I do not know if someone knows that I am a convert
"It is imperative that geirim understand that their shidduch situations cannot and will not be resolved by a dysfunctional community."Well: on the one hand Gerim (and some BTs) are excluded from all those holy ffb families because they are Gerim/Bts.So fine, let's turn to more tolerant cercles = the less religious cercles. But now comes the trap:On the other hand, I read in a comment on another thread that a Ger/Gioret who marries a non-orthodox jew is automatically considered insincere.So what options are we left with?Not to marry?Michal seems to say that everybody in her surroundings pesters her to get married as soon as possible...To whom exactely?To anogher Ger? This might work in big communities with large numbers of Gerim. In smaller communities it is virtually impossible to find a partner (when excluding non-religious jews)...
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