Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Should a Ger be Fearful of an Orthodox Conversion?

 This comment was just published to an older post Should your child marry a ger? under the name "concerned"

1) My husband and I have been trying to convert for almost 10 years. The main holdup is denominational issues. I want an orthodox conversion, because I (foolishly, I know) dream of my children having the opportunity of attending a good yeshiva if they want. My husband can't stand the idea of an orthodox conversion because of comments/ideas like this blogger's. He is angry about the way girls are spat upon in Israel by "men" in black hats. He wants a conserva...dox conversion, followed by the same observant, increasingly frum lifestyle we have had over the past several years. I'm close to agreeing with him.

(2)To the person who feels the need to say that a shiksa would revert back, the "ש" word is pejorative term up there with the "n" word. It implies moral debasement. It's basically a meaner way of calling somebody a "skank ho." (a) Don't toss that word around loosely. If you dare insist on using that word to describe all gerah, you are intentionally being ignorant and racially prejudiced. (b) If you are not using that word to describe all gerah, then consider this: Assume somebody who is so-morally-debased-the-ש-word-should-apply-to-her somehow decides she wants to go to a beit din, and assume she somehow commits fraud or bribery on the court sufficient to get through her conversion. She's morally corrupt!!! Isn't it kind of a "duh" statement that she runs a high risk of recidivism?!? Why even bother making the point?!?

(3) BUT, that is not most gerim. Most of us have had to give up former family and friends, completely overhaul our lifestyles, experience discrimination, hatred, bigotry from both sides of the fence. Yet we still manage to convert.

You who are reading this: Are you an FFB? Please take a moment and imagine sitting your parents down. "Mom, dad, I'm converting to, e.g., Islam." Imagine their reaction. Imagine what lengths they would go to so you would change your mind. We withstand all of that and still manage to convert.

I know another ger who took 20 years to get through the conversion process. That is 20 years where a VERY religious individual lived without a spiritual home. He lived in a nether-region--no longer a Christian, not yet a Jew. We aren't allowed to have study partners. We can get bounced from the shul we go to at any time, for any reason. We are constantly living in fear that the one thing that means the most to us in the whole wide world will be yanked out from under us. Yet we still manage to convert.

Why? Because we love our G-d. Because we love his Torah. Because we love his people. We love you even when you are mean to us for no other reason than genetics. We love you even when you are mean to our children. I think that is why you are asked to love us. It is not because we are evil. It is because we loved you first.

36 comments :

  1. The main problem is that gerim (and BT) come with illusions about the orthodox world.

    The fact that certain things are written in certain books that the orthodox world claims to believe in does by no means imply that they will abide by them.

    The orthodox (haredi) society is inherently racist and cruel. The problem is that newcomers think that it cannot be because it should not be. But it is. Just because a certain books writes that you should love a ger or not be cruel to ger does not mean they will do it. In their view, they have good reasons to be cruel to gerim and not to love them, so they don't. Collectively. And strongly. As you can read on this blog.

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  2. For honest, no non-sense, l'shem shamayim conversions contact R' Meir Fund in Brooklyn, NY (Flatbush). He doesn't charge anything as in his words he does it "l'shem shamayim" (therefore NO money. The price of the mohel for hatafas dam bris or an actual bris will be the only expense). Don't settle for less because of your disgust (I'm FFB and also disgusted) from *some* of the Jewish people...

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  3. I'm a BT. I'm very happy with the choice I made. Once you become a ger, you are completely free and you are just as Jewish as I am and just as Jewish as an FFB. Nobody can take it away from you. Recidivism is impossible.

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  4. As much as I respect our host here, I am always perplexed and disappointed when he takes a swipe at Gerim en masse.

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  5. "We aren't allowed to have study partners. We can get bounced from the shul we go to at any time, for any reason. We are constantly living in fear..."
    I wonder if this person exists at all. I know some Gerim and they don't get bounced from shul to shul. It isn't okay to indict a whole community under some "concerned" name that may be made up.

    "The orthodox (haredi) society is inherently racist and cruel."

    That's a rather sick comment. Charedim will help a Ger just the same as anyone else. It is not racist and cruel to be particular about who you marry. I'm not saying it should be this way (or not) but let's keep things in perspective.

    Also, why aren't these peple warned BEFORE they convert? This is not exactly a new phenomenon.

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  6. Or at least make sure that whomever you convert with will be universally accepted (ie. in Israel).

    Rabbi Seth Farber at ITIM has been helpful to gerim I have worked with in the past.

    I have also heard only good things about Rabbi Meir Fund.

    Good advice, Advice.

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  7. Troppenstein's monsterFebruary 1, 2012 at 2:01 AM

    Dr. Rabbi Seth Farber, or Doctor Rabbiner as they would have called him in an earlier era, is not on the same page as Rabbi Fund.

    Farber is in favor of all the questionable and outright no good gerim. He also takes time out of his busy schedule to fight for the militant gay agenda alongside Avi Weiss. They signed the letter together calling for gays to come out of the closet and be accepted whether in shul or if two men living together in sin drag adopted children into their perverse lives that yeshivos should just accept it as normal.

    Is that an imposter or has Jersey Girl gone Liberal for gerim on us?

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  8. Troppenstein's monsterFebruary 1, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    shaul shapira is asking a good question.

    That someone claiming to be a ger who is persecuted by frum Jews in ways that don't make sense sounds like that crackpot woman from NY with the wild imagination and victim complex.

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  9. out of curiosity - is his a successor organization to the EJF?

    http://www.tbyisrael.org/a/staff

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  10. "Or at least make sure that whomever you convert with will be universally accepted (ie. in Israel)."

    Just in case you missed it: there is no such thing as an universally accepted Giur!

    Long live the second, third and fourth Giurim!

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  11. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 1, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    "Eddie said...out of curiosity - is his a successor organization to the EJF? http://www.tbyisrael.org/a/staff"

    RaP Indeed it is but no one knows if it is dead or alive, or of this is a currently usable website a defunct website just a website to create some impressions, just as no one knows for sure what Tropper has been up to since his forced resignation from EJF and from his former position as head of the Kol Yaakov yeshiva about which not much is known either. Doubtful if any self-respecting batei din would want to have anything to do with something that is the "official" or "unofficial" continuation of the toxic, radioactive and chillul Hashem encased EJF.

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  12. To the letter writer: I'm sorry about the difficulties you're experiencing. Has it taken 10 years so far because of the Orthodox community that you're in (and the requirements of the beit din) or because of the reluctance of your husband to become Orthodox?

    When one partner wants to be Orthodox and the other isn't sure, it can be a difficult situation that either never results in conversion, or it takes a long time. But it does happen. Regardless, if you are meant to convert, you will convert, and it will take as much time as Hashem wants it to. This doesn't excuse, of course, any mistreatment you experience.

    One thing to consider: does a frum Conservadox community even exist?

    If your husband is uncomfortable with and disgusted with charedi zealots, tell him to join the club -- so is virtually everyone one in Orthodoxy, including most charedim. But if he doesn't want anything to do with charedim in general, you can always join a solidly modern orthodox shul (that is, if he changes his mind and decides he wants an Orthodox conversion).

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  13. As the son of a ger tzedek (my father, of blessed memory) and the close personal friend of several gerei tzedek I will say two things:

    1. If you are still not sure whether an Orthodox conversion is for you, then it isn't. Period.

    2. Genuinely committed Orthodox converts have no serious difficulty being accepted into the community. Half-baked converts have a great deal of difficulty.

    Of course, no one should come into the Orthodox community with starry eyed expectations that everything will be perfect. However, by and large, the problems experienced by serious gerei tzedek (shidduchim, schools, etc.) are the same as are experienced by all members of the community.

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  14. For a lighter take on similar concerns, check out a recent video made by a friend. She collected comments told by Jews to converts that range from humorously clueless to jaw-droppingly insensitive, gleaned from her own experiences and those of her convert friends.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zAlKGYdoKo

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  15. @Lazer:

    I would say that genuine Gerim have no difficulty being accepted up to a certain point, but not beyond.

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  16. I'm glad Jersey Girl also related that R' Meir Fund is a good address for this issue with only positive feedback. I've known him for many years (I'm not a bal teshuva, not a ger...) He goes out of his way for anyone he knows and in anyway...Especially with his gerim that he makes a point to keep in touch with them if they live far away and do whatever he can to make sure they are accepted no matter where they are.

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  17. 6ft that was the shortest and meanest thing that you just said. Where do you get off attacking Clal Yisrael like that? I happen to know quite a few gerim and I can confirm that they are 100% accepted. They are, as @Lazer says, also 100% committed. The two go together. At the risk of poskening from a distance, I would venture that any time a Ger runs into real acceptance issues it's time for a hard look in the mirror. Clal Yisrael never blocks acceptance of sincere gerim. They ask them shailos, they go to their shiurim and make notes, they marry them, they pay very large dollar sums to marry their children...! What do you want, they 100% accept them.

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  18. 6ft said...
    "I would say that genuine Gerim have no difficulty being accepted up to a certain point, but not beyond."

    My own experience and observations do not support this. I have yet to see a case where a ger experienced a lack of acceptance that was not consistent with his own level of observance, Torah knowledge, and acculturation into the Orthodox community. On other words, the lack of acceptance would have been exactly the same if he had been a born Jew with the same issues.

    It is true that people often explained that the reason the convert had these issues is because he is a convert. But, fundamentally, it isn't the conversion that is the problem, it is the various issues that can come with it.

    No one can deny that converts come with baggage that can make things difficult for them to properly adjust to Orthodox Jewish life. One of the reasons we are commanded to love a convert is precisely these difficulties. However, as long as the adjustment is not (basically) complete, these issues remain legitimate concerns.

    This is doubly true in those cases of converts who apparently resent having to make the adjustments in the first place, and instead place the onus on the community to adjust to them.

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  19. Intermarriage question:

    My understanding is that d'Oraita, i.e. from Torah Law, it is prohibited to intermarry with the 7-10 nations listed , eg Jebusites amorites, Moabites etc.

    I have heard from several rabbanim that the issur on intermarriage today, i.e. with nations other than those listed , is rabbinical.

    Before anyone miscontrues my question, I am not advocating either sort of intermarriage, but trying to clarify the halachic status.

    thank you

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  20. "I happen to know quite a few gerim and I can confirm that they are 100% accepted."

    I happen to know quite a few hareidi families who think it is out of question to marry a ger or gioret (and I do not mean Kohanim). And they are not even ashamed of saying it out loud. Not even ashamed of being outraged when a shadchen propose them a shidduch with a ger/gioret.

    This is what I call racist and cruel. Cruel, by the way, also refers to other practices not specially aimed at Gerim (like disciriminating against children from divorced parents, families with a handicapped or ill child, families where one member does not behave the way they think they should, etc)

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  21. 6ft said...

    "I happen to know quite a few hareidi families who think it is out of question to marry a ger or gioret ... And they are not even ashamed of saying it out loud. Not even ashamed of being outraged when a shadchen propose them a shidduch with a ger/gioret.

    This is what I call racist and cruel."

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  22. 6ft- And I know of thousands of Israelis who despise charedidim, and aren't ashamed to say so out loud. Is Israeli society inherently racist and cruel?
    It takes more than a few anonymous people who happen to know a few other anonymous people to issue such a rasict and cruel indictment about hundreds of thousands of bnei torah. For shame.

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  23. 6ft said...
    "I happen to know quite a few hareidi families who think it is out of question to marry a ger or gioret "

    And, in all likelihood, they are doing a favor to the gerim by preventing them from entering into an inappropriate match.

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  24. I know the type of Charedim in Flatbush who speak disparagingly of gerim and put on angry theater when there is such a shidduch proposal. I'm not sure if they're am haaratzim or liars when they misquote Rishonim to make their "case". One jerk has been going around saying that he dated a girl for a while who unbeknownst to him was a giyores ktana & he told the shver he wanted to "hit" him when he found out. Today the giyores is married to a fine Ben Torah and the jerk is divorced.

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  25. "And, in all likelihood, they are doing a favor to the gerim by preventing them from entering into an inappropriate match."

    How should I understand this?

    On the one hand, it is always good to avoid inappropriate matches, since this avoids unhappy marriages.

    On the other hand, in this context, I fear you mean that a Ger and a well-established Hareidi family are automatically an inappropriate match.

    This is exactely what I deem racist.

    so you really proved my point while trying to refute it.

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  26. "Is Israeli society inherently racist and cruel?"

    In many ways it is, but not in the same way as the hareidi society.

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  27. 6ft said...
    "I fear you mean that a Ger and a well-established Hareidi family are automatically an inappropriate match."

    That would be a false and tendentious interpretation that is more indicative of your own perception of chareidim than any actual reality.

    Those chareidi families that have hang-ups of this sort would not be good matches for geirim anyways. It just saves everyone a lot of trouble when they openly pull themselves out of the market, even if their motivations are improper.

    There are plenty of "well-established" frum families that don't have these hang-ups. Of course, no rational chareidi family would want a convert who has a chip on his shoulder about how "unfair" the chareidi world is to converts. And when members of the Orthodox community endorse these ideas, they only make the problem worse for the chareidim.

    So we have the ironic situation that the people who are unfair to the converts are actually helping them, while the people who think they are showing support for the geirim are actually hurting them. Oh well, typical of the world we live in.

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  28. "Is Israeli society inherently racist and cruel?"

    So far, it has been the extreme Haredim who regularly call the Israeli authorities "nazis", and dress their children in horrendous clothing , in desecration of the memory of victims of the Shoah.

    Actually, Israeli society is not inherently anti haredi. There is some resentment of the antics of some haredi groups (and other dati groups).

    My criticism of secular (usually left wing) antics is how they are ever complaining.
    Before, they would claim Haredim dont serve in the army. Now a large number do serve, so the complain about their religous needs whilst in the army.

    Or, they made up all this bubbameister (ashkenazim please correct my spelling) about the dreaded arab birth rate, and why we must surrender land to the PLO.

    suddenly, the Orthodox, especially Haredi and dati Leumi / settlers have massive birth rates - so now they talk about the threat of Jewish birth rate being too high!!!

    These are the extremist leftists who hold such views. I dont think the average person u will see in Tel aviv or in a shopping mall holds such views.

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  29. I wrote:
    "they only make the problem worse for the chareidim."

    That should be:
    "they only make the problem worse for the geirim."

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  30. "So far, it has been the extreme Haredim who regularly call the Israeli authorities "nazis", and dress their children in horrendous clothing , in desecration of the memory of victims of the Shoah."

    Eddie, we are not talking about RBS now. We are discussing Gerim and charedim. My point was that a) You cannot issue wide ranging accusations based on a few people who haven't even come forward, and b) people are entitled to whatever nuuty conditions they may have in choosing who they marry. I don't have to date a shvartze in the name of affirmative action or anything else.

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  31. 6ft, really. Marriage is NOT called discrimination. I know frum people who won't marry anybody who's grandmother didn't go to the mikveh. I know frum people who, honestly, won't marry anybody who's grandmother didn't know their grandmother. SO WHAT if people are picky about marriage?! Why do they have to AGREE TO MARRY YOU? Absolutely absurd. It's one thing to discriminate. It's another thing entirely to seek only the absolute best possible from all the bechinos in a spouse. That's their business.

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  32. "It's another thing entirely to seek only the absolute best possible from all the bechinos in a spouse."

    I agree with this. And it is important to state that a Ger/gioret can be the best from all the bechinos.

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  33. "I don't have to date a shvartze in the name of affirmative action or anything else."

    thank you for reminding me that simple, old classic racism is also prevalent in hareidi communities in the USA.

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  34. 6ft said...
    "thank you for reminding me that simple, old classic racism is also prevalent in hareidi communities in the USA."

    A single comment from a single unknown commenter on a blog does not prove the prevalence of anything anywhere.

    6ft also noted that he agreed with that commenter's statement that, "It's another thing entirely to seek only the absolute best possible from all the bechinos in a spouse."

    Strictly speaking, of course, the comment is correct that the insistence on the "absolute best possible from all the bechinos" in a potential spouse has nothing to do with racism, I still must say that it is an absolutely wrong, foolish, arrogant, and self-destructive approach to shidduchim. In my opinion, it is the insistence on perfection "in all bechinos" that is the primary cause of the so-called "shidduch crisis."

    I have commented on this issue in the past and written about it here: http://shesileizeisim.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-about-kavod-of-ben-yisroel.html

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  35. Well, you know, the shidduch crisis is really not different from the online-dating-crisis.

    Dan Ariely has studied the problems of online dating and came to these conclusions:
    - people spend more time online-dating than meeting actual people, this is not conducive to finding a spouse

    - People approach online-dating like shopping: they have a shopping list of "what they want" and reject anyone as soon as they do not meet the criteria. however, couple are not built in this way. A couple is built on very subtle, often subliminal preferences and common experience. It has nothing to do with "shopping"

    As far as I can see from the shidduch world, hareidi approach shidduchim exactely like shopping and often set the wrong priorities. "No Ger/Gioret" is one of them.

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  36. "thank you for reminding me that simple, old classic racism is also prevalent in hareidi communities in the USA."

    Or: Political correcteness still kills. But we knew that already.
    Please note that I have nothing against anyone of any color, my point was simply that I have the right to marry (Or more accurately NOT marry) whomever I want. I did not use shvartze as a pejorative.

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