Sunday, July 26, 2009

Conversion - is there age discrimination?

Sara asked

I am a 58 year old candidate for geirus. I have been trying for the last 4 years to convert. Despite the fact I have taken all the courses and have been shomer mitzovs for a number of years - the beis din does not seem very interested in converting me. I have sacrificed a lot to convert - in particular I have lost my connection with my family because I am trying to convert. I would like to know if there are older single women who are having a difficult time converting. I suspect it is because of my age and that if I was young, had money or children, I know I would have a valid conversion already. I also believe that if I was in a relationship with a Jew that I also would have been converted already. I also have observed that those who claim to be Jewish - i.e., have a Jewish father or have think that they have Jewish ancestry are also more readily converted. Is there anything I can do to facilitate the matter? For example can anyone recommend a respected beis din that might be more interested in convering me? I am not concerned whether it is Modern Orthodox or Haredi - I would like to be converted already. Finaly I have a close friend who is also trying to convert. But she says that her mother was actually Jewish but she can't prove it. Are there any services that can help her provide evidence that a beis din would find acceptable? Are there any internet resources that could be used?

Again, thank you for your time,


  1. To quote R' Eisenstein in a geirus issue that I am dealing with for my Yeshiva, " Older people typically don't make good candidates and are usually a waste of time."

    So it would seem that there is some form of age discrimination. Though considering the source I have to wonder if it is not born out of years of experience. Thus it could be that from the majority of experience that the Dayyanim are judging the individual based on the klal.

    Not that this would be a correct way of doing things. However as much as dayyanim are not supposed to judge accoriding to previous cases, honestly it is quite hard not to.

  2. mekubal said...

    To quote R' Eisenstein in a geirus issue that I am dealing with for my Yeshiva, " Older people typically don't make good candidates and are usually a waste of time
    But why? Do they have more difficulty in understanding or changing their way of life? Or is it simply that it is a waste of time because they are at the end of life so maybe they have 10 or 15 years of being Jewish as opposed to a 30 year old with 40 or 50 years to go?

    Do they use a disproprotionate amount of resources?

  3. RE: Sara's Question
    There is discrimination - period. Age is only one category. I cannot offer up much help but as to the question of family history on the Internet, there is The Jewish geneaology site and others. Contact Deborah R. Weiner who is research historian and family history coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and director of Historic Jonestown, Inc., both in Baltimore. She was a great help to me in my family search. Unfortunately there is a dead end that is truly dead in my case.

    Could I please get a documented source of the quote by R" Eisenstein? OY! I can only pray Hashem does not find it a waste of time to research this rabbi's life for the purpose of judging him favorably in the world to come.

  4. Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I wanted to be. I wrote that when I was really tired. Always a mistake.

    R' Eisenstein's point was that the older the candidate is the harder it is for them to make the fundamental changes within themselves. I want to point out that in this specific case, he did stress that he was more than willing to help, and see it through. He just wanted to let those of us who were dealing with the situation know that it one of the factors that could make the situation more difficult was the individual's age. And that was only one of the complicating factors. I really don't want to get into them all for the sake of the anonymity of the individual.

    My point was then to extrapolate from there that it is possible that some B"D, because of their experience with such difficulties are a little less than enthusiastic to deal with the issue. Or it could be that she is dealing with Rabbinute's B"D which does not seem very quick to get around to anything.

    Ultimately geirus is not about the courses taken or time served. It is about effecting a fundamental change within the individual. To give another quote from R' Eisenstein, "It could take 10months or 10years, it all depends on the individual." Geirus is not a lifestyle makeover, it is the fundamental recreation of a human being. It is essential to understand that.

  5. So what about helping Sara?
    What about referring her to a Rabbi who would be ready and able to help?

    How about finding her a Rabbi who does Giurim according to halacha, i.e. when the potential Ger has no ulterior motives?

    I would think that it is easier to qualify for a well though-over Giur with no ulterior motives at age 58 than at age 20.

    Are you really not able to find a Rabbi who takes "Giur" seriously and welcomes a sincere candidate? What a sad situation!

  6. Sara,

    I am wishing you success in your journey. The irony is that if you were married to a Jew you would have Tropper and the EJF running after you, dining you and offering you incentives to convert!

    The catch in that situation is that if you would then go with him you have to make sure that you never wars pants ot forget your sheitl because then he will revoke you conversion.

  7. Monsey Tzadak:
    I am not qualified to to give an opinion on revoking conversions, but as an observer i would like to know how it is possible to 'forget' to wear ones sheitl when obligated to do so? I would also like to know why a woman would make the independant decision that wearing pants is in line with what is deemed tzniut?

  8. Mekubal you said that Geirus is not about the time served or courses taken and offered a rather vague explanation to what Geirus is all about. Your opinion is heartless and unnecessary. What do you know about conversions? If the candidate feels ready, then she or he is ready. They are the ones who are going to live a Jewish life and not you or the beit din. The beit din will not live in their homes and observe every step that they take or every move that they make. They are not Hashem. Hashem is merciful and her beis din is not apperently. Geirus is the beginning of Jewish life. The beis din she is working with is rather subjective than objective. Judaism is a highly organized religion and some rabbis are truly misrepresenting it. They mistreat people and discriminate against them. I feel for you Sarah, those rabbis will be trembling before G-d in the heavenly court for all the injustice and hatred against people believe me. It is all about power and money. Look at trump's daughterm she just converted after working with a rabbi for a year. Did she have a hard time during the process? NO and you know why because she had money and is white and rich. Older people and people of color for instance usually have the hardest time to convert and be accepted. I know of a good rabbi who does conversions, please provide your email but let me know where you live, I will help you. Baseless hatred continues and will not stop until us Jews do something about it. Fasting for nothing. Hope is still in our hearts though.


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