Conversion Help!

Maitri

eternally confused
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Canada
I am thinking about converting to Judaism but I feel a little lost. I come from a catholic background and I am not sure I will ever really feel jewish. My husband is not jewish he is buddhist though he is supportive.

I have contacted a synagogue but I am just not sure I am fooling myself. Do I really deserve to be a jew? Can I really do this?

I have come to a point in my life where I desire a spiritual home. Are there any converts out there?

The main reason why I wanted to convert is because I think judaism is more straight forward and practical. It is so fully of beauty and life and hope. But who am I to darn to even ask to convert? Am I just destined to remain a hopeless, depressed, hardly catholic?

If anyone out there have any ideas please respond as I am a little confused to say the least.

Peace,


Maitri
 

dauer

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,103
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Maitri,

Do I really deserve to be a jew?

I don't think that's such a good question to ask. It makes it sound like Judaism is something greater than all other religions. I think that you've placed Judaism on a pedastal for yourself and then told yourself you can't attain your own pedastal. But I think that whatever your path is, you can walk it.

But who am I to darn to even ask to convert?

I think you're making Judaism into a lot more than what it is. Judaism is what you make of it. Some will disagree with me, but that's what I say. I'd say the same about Catholicism too.

What specifically draws you to Judaism? What specifically pushes you away from Catholicism?

Dauer
 

Maitri

eternally confused
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Canada
What specifically draws you to Judaism? What specifically pushes you away from Catholicism?

Judaism interests me and fascinated me. It is such a whole way of living. The rules are set out and it is also the community feeling that appeals to me.

Catholicism pushes me away with it's rules, they seem to think they know the mind of G-d. I don't like their rules about marriage and baptism. The rules frighten me and I feel confined. But on the other hand the history is interesting. The Irishness about it. The family history. The pride? I don't know really.

I do put Judaism on a pedal because it's theology doesn't seem as dogmatic. They don't require you to belief in exacting what they believe in. They seem more solid in their faith. With christianity it is like you are constantly defending jesus. It is like deep down inside no one can really believe in his messiah-ship(?). I think that is why christians strike out so much against other religions, it is because they are not confident in it.

With judaism one can be confident I suppose.


Peace,


Maitri
 

Dondi

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,615
Reaction score
3
Points
36
Location
Southern Maryland
Hi Maitri!

I, too, am currently going through a major shift in my personal beliefs. I have been a Christian with a Baptist background who is rather perturbed at the prospect of those who don't believe in Christ are destined for hell. I find too many people who experienced the love of G-d (i.e. through the forgiveness, mercy, and compassion of G-d) to think that Christians have cornered the market. Furthermore, in investigating the claimed prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, I have had serious questions of their fulfillement in Christ. And there is compelling, intelligent reasons why the Jews do not believe that the Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus. I have been exploring Judaism for sometime, figuring that since Christianity proceeded from Judaism that perhaps a stable belief in G-d will be found there. Afterall, the Hebrew scriptures came first. It has not been an easy journey. At times I wonder if I'm doing the wrong thing. I liked very much the idea of Jesus being my Savior, as it gave me comfort to know someone died for me so that I could go to heaven. But I am learning some fascinating things from Judaism that suggests that the Messiah could not have come yet.

Anyway, my feeling is that if we are to believe the Bible, we must compare scripture (NT) with scripture (OT). In the book of Acts 17:10, the Bereans were commended for searching the OT scriptures to find out is these things were so. So in my mind, I need to get to the bottom of things when it comes to Jesus. I would encourage you to be a seeker in the same regard.

I would like to suggest something though, before commiting yourself to Judaism. Make sure this is what you want. Right now, I consider myself a Noahide, which is a term in Judaism that describes Non-Jewish (i.e. Gentiles) believers in the Hebrew G-d. The name Noahide comes from the covenant from G-d to Noah concerning all mankind and establishes a set of laws called the Seven Noahide Laws for all Non-Jews to follow. I suggest looking into this alternative until you are sure you wish to convert to Judaism.

Here is an excellent link about Judaism for starters:

http://www.jewfaq.org/

Here are some good Noahide references:

The Seven Noahide Laws:

http://www.noahide.com/7laws.htm

Some Noahide organizations and websites:

http://www.noahide.com/

http://www.noahide.org/

http://asknoah.org

Shalom and pleasant journey

Dondi
 

bananabrain

awkward squadnik
Messages
2,749
Reaction score
4
Points
36
Location
London, UK, Malkhut she'be'Assiyah
maitri,

judaism may seem preferable to catholicism to you but it is by no means an end to doubt, questions and heartache. it is tough to be jewish and, even without having to defend christianity, you'll end up with some far more complicated *practices* to defend - even if you find the theology unchallenging! moreover, conversion to judaism is not for the faint-hearted. nor is it something i would recommend to someone in your familial situation. no sensible (whether orthodox or not) beth din (religious court) would be likely to agree to convert one member of a couple, because it would put a severe strain on your relationship - particularly if there were children involved. either both you and your husband (and children) would have to convert together, or neither. judaism is a very community and family-oriented religion and we do not seek to proselytise, especially at the expense of existing relationships.

if you're serious about this, i'd recommend following dondi's advice and investigating the noahide laws - no conversion is required, as all non-jews are considered noahides by default.

if you have further questions, feel free to ask.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

Faustus

Jew In Progress
Messages
48
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Hyogo-ken, Japan
Hey, Maitri,

I'm a Jew In Progress, so maybe I can try to address a few of your questions. To give a summary of my story, I was raised Episcopalian (aka Church of England, aka Catholic Lite, aka Henry VIII's divorce court); I was an acolyte in church, was confirmed and so on, but I never really felt the connection to Christianity that I started feeling to Judaism very on (maybe eight or nine years old). I knew by the time I was twelve or thirteen that I wanted to convert, but there are basically no rabbis who will convert people under the age of eighteen (and for good reason, I think).

During middle and high school, I settled for studying up, reading whatever I could about Judaism and just educating myself (in all denominations, not just the one in which I hoped to convert- at the time, that was Reform, now it will probably be Conservative). Upon going to college, I started attending services at Hillel and Chabad, kept reading and so on. I didn't pursue conversion with a rabbi at the time, because I felt that I wouldn't be able to devote sufficient time to my academic work and my conversion studies. Currently, I'm living in Japan about four hours from Tokyo (the only place that does conversions), so I'm out of luck until I leave next year.

Anyway, your questions. First of all, it isn't a question of "deserving" to be Jewish. If you have it in your heart to convert, and if that's really what you want- if you've been seeking something and Judaism is where you found a home, you have as much right to convert as anyone else. There is a question of having the discipline necessary to convert, especially if you want to be more observant, but that comes as you go. No one's expecting you to go from reading a few books to having a kosher kitchen overnight (no one rational, anyway). But to echo Dondi's advice, take your time and make sure this is what you want. Once you're dunked in the mikveh, you're a Jew and that's it. It's a big choice to make.

What's your current level? Have you just started exploring Judaism? Have you been reading for a while? Assuming that you haven't met a rabbi, my advice would be to synagogue shop a bit- look around, see if you find a community in which you feel comfortable. Attend services, get a feel for what they're like, maybe try an Intro to Judaism class. Bananabrain's right, though; it will be a tough row to hoe trying to convert while your partner isn't a Jew. The only rabbis likely to convert you would be Reform, and even then, your partner may be expected to attend classes with you to ensure that he knows what you're entering into. Judaism's a family religion, and going it alone can be difficult.

To second something else Bananabrain said, becoming a Jew doesn't mean that suddenly, everything's right with the world and makes perfect sense. If anything, things like the Talmud only introduce more questions- personally, that sort of discussion is what I like about Judaism (that thought and consideration are encouraged, as opposed to blind obedience), but if you're expecting a panacea to being Christian, you likely won't find it. Don't become a Jew because Judaism isn't Christianity- do it because you love Judaism (not that you don't, but don't expect it to solve all your problems- Jews aren't any more perfect than Christians are). One translation of "Israel" is "to wrestle with G-d." It's always a challenge to read and study and try to figure out what he wants from us; if it wasn't, there probably wouldn't be a commandment to study Torah every day.

Good luck with the conversion process, though; I've had almost universally good experiences with the Jewish communities I've joined over the last few years, and you'll never run out of new stuff to learn. It's an amazing religion.
http://www.chabad.org
 

Faustus

Jew In Progress
Messages
48
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Hyogo-ken, Japan
Oh, and to jump on the link train, you could also try the conversion forums at Beliefnet; there are people of all denominations there with a lot of good advice (though sometimes you get a bit of push-me pull-me about whether or not everyone should convert Orthodox). There's also a Livejournal community dedicated to converts and prospective converts (just search for "conversion to judaism" or something, and it should come up).
 

ThePennyDrops

Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Faustus said:
To give a summary of my story, I was raised Episcopalian (aka Church of England, aka Catholic Lite, aka Henry VIII's divorce court);

Church of England is most definitely NOT Catholic lite. Given that brutal and bloody wars were fought on the major issues that divide the Protestant and Catholic faiths, such as the infallibility of he Pope and the transubstantiation, I wouldn't dream of using such a term to describe Protestantism. Thanks for telling me what Episcopalianism is though :D
 

dauer

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,103
Reaction score
0
Points
36
17th,

That's a fairly common misconception, actually. Truth is we just don't evangelize, nor do we see any theological need for everyone to become Jewish.

Dauer
 

17th Angel

לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות
Messages
9,437
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Location
Have you seen the little piggies crawling in the d
17th,

That's a fairly common misconception, actually. Truth is we just don't evangelize, nor do we see any theological need for everyone to become Jewish.

Dauer


Thanks for the post Dauer,

May I ask, (remembering I know naff all about Jewish ways.)

Do you still believe you are the only choosen people? And also, why do not think right to "evangelize"?
 

bananabrain

awkward squadnik
Messages
2,749
Reaction score
4
Points
36
Location
London, UK, Malkhut she'be'Assiyah

confused

New Member
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
toledo, ohio
Hi,

I am another person thinking about converting, but to be honest, I'm scared to death just because converting to a religion is kind of a big deal and I don't want to make the wrong choice, and I don't want to be rejected by members within that religious community. Presently, I feel like I have a personal relationship with G-d with which I'm comfortable and extremely happy, but I would be even more satisfied if I could find a community and a way of life that would support this. I have several questions about converting and about Judaism in general still, and I thought that this might be a good place to come for answers...

What are the main specific ways in which Reform and Orthodox Judaism are different? I've read some on this and I know that Reform is more liberal and Orthodox is more conservative, if you will, but still I'm a little unclear on the specific aspects of this.

What is the conversion process like? I know it's difficult, but again I lack knowledge of the specifics.

If I choose to convert, will I likely be viewed as an outsider? Will I be treated with the same respect as someone who was born a Jew?

Are there perscribed gender roles in Judaism, and if so, what are they and how closely are they expected to be followed?

I read that Judaism is very family-oriented. Will I be looked down upon if I don't particularly want to start a family someday?

I think that's all the questions I can think of at the moment, though it is late and I might be back again with more if my questions are not bothering anyone too much. Much thanks to anyone who takes time to reply! :)
 

dauer

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,103
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Hi confused.

I will see if I can help clarify some of your questions.

Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism are two of a number of Jewish denominations that also include Conservative, Humanist, Reconstructionist and sometimes Renewal.

Orthodox Judaism adheres strictly to traditional Jewish jurisprudence and thus with Orthodoxy there is a greater adherence to beliefs and practices as well as tendency to create fences that guard against potentially violating a commandment. However, it's very diverse and in the most liberal cases there will be times when seating between different sexes in shul is not separate. The religious authority are the rabbis who rule based on previous rulings and established methods of extrapolation of legal issues. I will include a link after I've briefly described the other movements that will go into more detail about each of them.

Conservative Judaism generally holds that one should adhere to as many mitzvot as one is comfortable with. A couple years ago I read something on their website that advised adopting one new mitzvah each year. Like al of the movements other than Orthodoxy, it accepts modern approaches to understanding sacred texts as valid alongside traditional approaches. Authority in Conservative Judaism is also with the rabbi who makes rulings based on the decisions of Conservative Judaism's rabbinic assembly, which itself makes rulings based on an understanding of contemporary issues and approaches as well as traditional sources and traditional approaches.

Reform places authority upon the individual, such that the mitzvot are entirely elective (although they do encourage exploration of them and potentially observance.) Lately they've taken a turn toward tradition. Classical Reform, which was almost anti- religiosity, is going the way of the dinosaur.

Reconstructionist Judaism places authority upon the community, that is, there is a general understanding in each individual community of the basic boundaries to the right and left of how a member of that community acts. They hold that tradition has a vote but not a veto and tend to have a naturalist view of G!d. For them Judaism is an evolving religious civilization and the mitzvot are generally held to be folkways.

Jewish Renewal is a progressive mystical movement that is generally both very liberal (if not the most liberal) and very spiritually engaged. It sometimes engages in religious syncretism which has been a hot-button issue.

Jewish humanism is, as the name suggests, Judaism without G!d.

For more information on the different denominations this is a good place to look:

MyJewishLearning.com: Denominations Index

That site is very good and I will likely link to it again in my response as it includes views from all of the denominations.

Conversion varies both depending on the movement and the rabbi. It can typically be anywhere from a year to a number of years. There is much study and adoption or exploration of religious practice. It culminates in three events: circumcision, immersion in the mikveh, and going before a rabbinic court. Again, for more info:

MyJewishLearning.com - Lifecycle: Conversion

It is likely if you converted that some people will view you as an outsider. In my experience this is primarily those who identify only to peoplehood but don't live very Jewishly. It can also happen with some folks who are very religious if they don't hold your conversion to be valid. More information again at the link above.

Gender roles are proscribed in Orthodox Judaism which, outside of the ultra-orthodox, which basically mean different rules for modesty in dress, the laws of family purity (MyJewishLearning.com - Daily Life: Menstruation and Family Purity) women not allowed to count in a minyan or prayer quorom and generally don't wear a tallis or tefillin and not obligated to as many mitzvot.

In the liberal movements there's no separation by sex in the synagogue, women can become rabbis etc. There's been a resurgence of interest in family purity laws in the liberal movements however the majority do not follow them at all.

On starting a family: it depends on both the movement and the people you know. Renewal openly embraces people on single life paths in their principles but your personal experiences with people in any movement will vary.

Hope that helps to clear things up a bit. As a guide to my own bias, I'm post-denominational but lean most heavily toward renewal, recon a little bit, and the neo-hasidic movement which, as at times can be the case with renewal, is not an organized denomination but a trans-denominational movement due to a recent interest in translating hasidic ideas into a liberal idiom and extrapolating upon those ideas along that same line.

--Dauer
 
Last edited:

Saltmeister

The Dangerous Dinner
Messages
2,130
Reaction score
2
Points
36
Location
Australia
And there is compelling, intelligent reasons why the Jews do not believe that the Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus. I have been exploring Judaism for sometime, figuring that since Christianity proceeded from Judaism that perhaps a stable belief in G-d will be found there. Afterall, the Hebrew scriptures came first. It has not been an easy journey.
At times I wonder if I'm doing the wrong thing. I liked very much the idea of Jesus being my Savior, as it gave me comfort to know someone died for me so that I could go to heaven. But I am learning some fascinating things from Judaism that suggests that the Messiah could not have come yet.

Hey don't worry Dondi.:)

As Dauer says, "it's what you make of it." As Dauer has said about Judaism and Catholicism, I think I would say the same about Christianity. "Jesus being a Savior" has more to do with semantics than a definition. What is a Saviour? That statement is open to interpretation. It's just that we assume it means one thing and not something else. For much of Christianity's history, ambiguities are condemned. Certainties are applauded.

Jews may be seen as realists in this regard. When Dauer says, "Judaism is what you make of it," he's talking about an approach to Judaism, rather than defining doctrine in Judaism (that's at least how I see it), though you may argue that that in itself is a doctrine. A doctrine about how to approach doctrine. A meta-doctrine? It may be that Jews have spent more time thinking about how to approach their faith rather than just trying to define it. Christianity, at present, hasn't been through this stage of evolution.

I've been through quite a journey myself. My views about Christianity have changed a lot too. I wouldn't really be fussed if you went to the extreme and discarded and dumped Christianity, though I doubt if you'd do it completely (from my impression). Even if you did, you'd probably still want to get to the bottom of things and figure out why Christianity happened in the first place. But most importantly, from the thoughts I've had in the last year or so, strong adherence to the concepts in Christianity may not be important after all. The important thing are the goals of Christianity.

My thoughts would be that even if Christianity wasn't essential it isn't necessarily pointless, but merely a faith formed to provide us with valuable insights, insights that when known and understood, prove useful, but may otherwise be unknown without dire consequences. Christianity has its place, but it is only to be invoked in times and places that are appropriate.

. . . and who knows . . . Christianity could well have been a form of "Judaism" that, 2,000 years ago was validly and legitimately a kind of "Judaism," but simply went astray because people forgot its real purpose, resulting in the Christianity we know today. In a sense it may have lost its applicability due to the fact that the cultural conditions inspiring its conception have long gone, meaning that it is no longer valid for us today, or to please some, I would say the interpretations of the present teachers/preachers aren't accurate.

But I suppose that just means it's all the more important to get into studying Judaism . . . perhaps more so than Christianity.:eek: I don't believe Jesus ever wanted to make us slaves to religious dogma, and I think if he were here today, he'd be against the way many of us have approached Christianity. Dismissing Christianity and getting into Judaism may even be a good thing . . . perhaps even fulfilling Christianity's original goals.

Christianity is puzzle that I believe few of us will ever figure out, so it's probably more important for you to get into Judaism and figure out what that faith all means, become a Noahide, and perhaps eventually, maybe when your hair is all grey you might have some time left to figure why Christianity really sprang into existence.

Dauer's advice that we are to "make of it what we will" is perhaps indicative that Jews are a lot more independent in figuring out what the Bible/Tanakh (hope I got that right) means and says, more at liberty and are perhaps a bit more intellectual too.

I suppose there's a downside to a "make of it what we will" attitude, as I recall either a thread or website talking about what it means to be a Jew. I think, if I remember correctly, the question was, is it heritage or "I just want to be a Jew?" (and one could ask, how could one come up with a more #@^$^$$@# response than that?:eek:) But as I said, the good thing is that Jews are a lot more flexible in the way they use their minds. They are God's creation and they are exercising their minds' full potential, perhaps more so than followers of other Abrahamic faiths.

The other side of "make of it what we will" is that it's all about perception. Could Christianity just have been an "illusion"? By illusion I do not mean, "lie", "false concept" or "heresy" but something that we perceive. Think of Christianity as like a cloud that hides something. Suppose you walk through the cloud and on the other end you find . . . Judaism? In other words, could it be that Christianity never meant for us to seek after itself, but another? . . . and therefore safely discarded?

But anyway . . . as I said, if you can't understand it, don't worry about it. God is unlikely to be angry at someone for not understanding a section of Scripture if they have tried with all the heart and mind to comprehend but it doesn't make sense. I personally would say it's ok to pass Christianity off for someone else to understand, that we don't have to do it if we can't do it. Of course, someone will do the dirty work, and you may revisit it later on because of your "insider's perspective" or affiliation with the in-group. But for now . . . move on. Let it go.:)

Whether the Messiah (or Moshiach, correct me if I got that wrong) came before or after, I would say, doesn't matter anymore. We missed the point. We misunderstood what it all meant. Whether or not it is all true doesn't matter now. Forget the past. We screwed up. We made a mistake, missed the mark, and therefore "sinned" and so, even if he did come, we have to wait for him again. Let's look forward . . . into the future.

It may sound like I'm saying it didn't happen, which wouldn't be politically correct from a Christian perspective, but I think it's more important to recognise that Christianity has a legacy, in much the same way that Judaism has a legacy. We have to pursue the legacy that's more meaningful.

For now, dare I say it, Judaism is the truth . . .
 

Cooper

Member
Messages
15
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
California
I am thinking about converting to Judaism but I feel a little lost. I come from a catholic background and I am not sure I will ever really feel jewish. My husband is not jewish he is buddhist though he is supportive.

I have contacted a synagogue but I am just not sure I am fooling myself. Do I really deserve to be a jew? Can I really do this?

I have come to a point in my life where I desire a spiritual home. Are there any converts out there?

The main reason why I wanted to convert is because I think judaism is more straight forward and practical. It is so fully of beauty and life and hope. But who am I to darn to even ask to convert? Am I just destined to remain a hopeless, depressed, hardly catholic?

If anyone out there have any ideas please respond as I am a little confused to say the least.

Peace,


Maitri


You can also contact a local synagogue and take an "Introduction to Judaism" course.
 
Top