Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What If You're Rejected By or Kicked Out of a Beit Din?

Let me tell you an almost-secret: I was kicked out of a conversion beit din. And I’m not alone. Heck, I wasn’t even alone in my own kicking out: three of us were given the boot at the same time due to one bully's accusations.

But it wasn’t the end of the world for any of us. And it won’t be for you if you’re even unfortunate enough to go through a situation like this. Maybe you apply to a beit din, even meet with a rabbi or three, and they don’t accept you to the program. Maybe you you’re accepted and later kicked out for whatever reason. Either way, there are steps you can take to keep moving toward your conversion if that is your desire.

Really, I’m serious: a rejection by one beit din does not have to completely derail your goal of getting an orthodox Jewish conversion. But what you do after things hit the fan might.

First, and most important, when you get the news…stop whatever you’re doing and take a few deep breaths. Feel your feelings. Really. Let them rush over you rather than trying to force them down. Go to a bathroom, closet, or your car if you’d rather not have a breakdown in front of others. You will feel better and be able to take calm and rational action if you don’t try to repress these feelings. Take however much time you need and cry if that’s your reaction. Your feelings of rage, hurt, rejection, and fear (or whatever else) are valid and justified.

I wish I had taken this advice myself. I got “the news” by email while sitting in a law school class. (The #1 reason I advocate blocking email and social media and other apps in class.) I went into shock. Full-on medical shock. I don’t remember much about the rest of that class, but I think I sat there in silence and panic for a good half hour or more. It was not healthy, and it left a lot of feelings for me to process later, which took much longer than embracing them in the moment would have.


Let’s talk about the steps to take after the initial shock wears off.

2) Sit down in a quiet place and brainstorm what may have gone wrong. Odds are, you weren’t given a reason for your rejection or dismissal. For instance, despite being in the orthodox community for years and fully observant for over a year, this was the “reasoning” my rejection letter gave (and is actually the entire text of the letter, no grammatical corrections):
"As part of its diligence and efforts to maintain an effective giyur program the [Beit Din] looks into the background and references of conversion candidates. We contact references, examine our own data, and try to reach the conclusions which are fair and appropriate under the circumstances.
We have concluded that we cannot continue to supervise your conversion. In truth we question the wisdom of your pursuing an Orthodox conversion altogether because, while it it will open some doors for you, it also closes others. That is ultimately your personal decision, but we urge you to rethink the whole matter. It is a life altering choice.
Either way, we cannot in good faith continue a process which we do not believe is ultimately for your benefit. We share your disappointment that this did not work out, and hope you will reexamine your options to live a fruitful and fulfilling life. All the very best to you."

Think about whether there is some validity to the reason given or whether you know something went “wrong.” But don’t spend too much time here, and don’t let yourself wallow in self-blame. Whatever happened happened, and you have options to move forward and make things right if you actually did something “wrong.”

According to those I’ve spoken to, most of you will not have an answer at this point. You won’t know why you’re here. Or you’ll have some guesses, but nothing that seems like a legit reason. For instance, in my case, I contacted the four people who had been given as references for my case or had contacted the beit din about me (that I knew of and one had recently passed away). None of these people had been contacted, confusing me further. Where was this background and references the letter speaks of, and who was providing it? If they found bad information, why didn't they contact the references I provided? In the end, the decision was made based on the opinions of two people about me: a bully and the Av Beit Din. It appears (based on what I know about the investigation that followed with my new beit din) that no effort was made to elicit any other opinions or information. Sometimes it's them, not you.

3) People you need to let know: your rabbi (whether or not he is a “sponsoring” rabbi), close friends or family who might be able to help you brainstorm or work through your feelings.

4) Keep on doing what you should be doing. Continue being as observant of Jewish law as you were before the bad news, perhaps even increasing your observance if this was the kick-in-the-pants you needed to move to the next level. Attend classes and shiurim as you were before, unless you find this too emotional. Be stronger than the haters, and don’t let them rule your life. And don’t give them the ammunition to say the rejection was “obviously valid because look at what s/he did after!”

5) Contact the beit din and respectfully request (but not grovel, though it will be tempting) the reason and what can be done to remedy the situation, perhaps including a probationary period.

6) If this fails, ask whether there is an appeals process. It’s preferable if you can ask a different person than the last one your asked/begged. My experience says that the beit din will say there is no appeals process. Because you’re not Jewish, a beit din doesn’t have to follow the rules of the “real” beit din, including appeals procedures. Or that is the reasoning you’ll be given. I’m not convinced because one person (the Av Beit Din - head of the beit din) should not have that much power without any oversight. In that case, a simple personality difference can lead to a real chilul Hashem and prevent a conversion that should happen.
By this time, most people have given up and will leave Judaism altogether or will pursue a non-orthodox conversion. Batei din can use this to "prove" the rejection was warranted, but I'm not sold. If you're treated poorly (or as barely a human being), I cannot blame those who abandon orthodoxy. I believe many Jewish souls are turned away unjustifiably (and/or with unjustifiable behavior). These people are not always lost forever, whether they convert in a future incarnation or simply a few years in the future. Good interactions with orthodox Jews are often key. Keep this in mind if you ever feel the need to speak poorly about someone who "abandons" the orthodox conversion process.

7) If you are told there is no possibility of appeal, consider contacting someone “higher up” in the organization. Be assertive! If you were rejected by a RCA beit din, contact the main RCA office and explain the situation and that you were denied an appeal (and a reason, if that is the case). If you’re working with a private beit din, then your options may be more limited. Look around and ask.

8) If all this doesn’t get you anywhere, don’t lose hope. You will be incredibly frustrated and emotionally exhausted by this point…or full of righteous anger. It’s time to try a new beit din.

Contrary to your fears, being rejected by one beit din does not necessarily “black ball” you from another beit din, even within the RCA system. And you're not necessarily going back to square one. Expect to be investigated and for things to take longer, but you might actually move faster after such an investigation! After being kicked out of one beit din, I was converted within a year by another. But in my case, the accusations against me were about my psychological fitness, but everyone apparently didn’t question my knowledge or my sincerity for converting. Even the apparent-insult of being asked to undergo a psychological evaluation can make your conversion more resistant to challenge and speed things up by addressing several beit din concerns in one fell swoop.

Is there another beit din that covers your geographic area and would be acceptable to you? Most batei din today cover a predetermined geographic area. In some areas, this has created a monopoly on conversion, intentionally or not. And I do mean “monopoly” with all the potential for abuse that word implies. If there isn’t a beit din that “covers” your geographic area, there may be another beit din in a neighboring geographic area that would accept someone from your area.

Wherever your potential new beit din is, consider whether its hashkafa is compatible with yours. If you were with a chareidi beit din, perhaps you should consider a RCA beit din. If you were with the RCA, you may want to consider either a chareidi or independent beit din. There are conversion beit dins arranged by communities or the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF). Any beit din not listed by ITIM may not be accepted by the Israeli Rabbinate, but many people do not need Rabbinate recognition. Honestly, many religious communities in Israel don't accept the Rabbinate's conversions, so keep that in mind when you worry too much about Rabbinate recognition. If you're not making aliyah in the foreseeable future, then you don't "need" recognition. And if you change your mind later, you can get a geirus l'chumrah if it is required. Again, not the end of the world (though I would challenge most "demands" for geirus l'chumrah). Even I would get a geirus l'chumrah if someone important enough demanded it from me. This is politics, not Jewish law.

9) If you suffer from a rabbinic monopoly, consider moving to a new geographic area. If you can't do that temporarily (university, for example), consider waiting until you can move. Most batei din will want and/or require you to move to a larger community anyway, especially if you're single. If you are married, past childbearing age, and have no school-aged children, you have much more freedom in where a beit din will allow you to live. You don't need dayschools or other singles, so things are much simpler.

10) If you can't move to escape a rabbinic monopoly, your options are very small indeed. But not impossible. If you choose to pursue an orthodox conversion, you will have to find an independent beit din. In the opinion of many (most?), such a conversion is halachically valid, but you can expect more pushback. People will wonder why you couldn't "cut it" with a recognized beit din and will wonder why you chose them. But you can probably get your children into the local schools and get an aliyah on Shabbat. Your mileage may vary, of course.


Your best "revenge," as they say, is living well. The best way to prove haters wrong is to continue living a religious life, being involved, and being an example to the community. You're going to be an example to the community either way (whether that is fair or not), so embrace it and make it a good example. The Jews are the Chosen people, and that means we must be an example to the nations of the world. Within the community, converts are "chosen" in a similar sense. If people know you are a convert, you will be held to a higher standard, consciously or not. You can try to hide your status, and many do, but it's easier to embrace the responsibility and grow tremendously in the process. When converts live proud, the entire Jewish community gets inspired to be better. Don't let rabbinic politics get you down for longer than necessary.

29 comments:

  1. This post made me so sad. My Reform conversion (I never wanted nor tried to have an Orthodox conversion) was just such a different, uplifting process. Challenging, of course, but so positive. The beit din grilled me, but at the bottom of it all was just a desire to know that I was prepared, committed, and making this choice of my own free will with an understanding of all that it means for me and my life. Once they felt sure of that, they welcomed me with open arms - for how could you NOT welcome in someone so passionate about Judaism and so eager and ready to join and multiply your numbers with committed, observant descendants? I have a deeper passion and appreciation of Judaism than many born Jews for having gone through this process. And it's so sad to me to think of a beit din rejecting a good-hearted Jewish soul for such silly reasons. Maybe it's all just part of the "three rejections" custom??

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  2. So-called Reform “conversions” are counterfeit, fictional, invalid and worthless.

    If you “converted” to Reform Judaism, then you are still 100% Gentile and 0% Jewish, because Reform Judaism is not real Judaism and their Rabbis are not real Rabbis.

    Reform Judaism is the spiritual equivalent of Bernard Maddoff’s super-massive investment fraud that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars.

    I am sorry if that upsets you, but it is a truth you need to hear.

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    1. lol ok. you're entitled to your opinion.

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  3. Why are they worthless? You will be recognized as Jewish by reform and reconstructionist communities, at least for religious purposes.

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  4. In response to Anonymous:

    Which Judaism is the real Judaism?

    Please allow me give you a few little clues:

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who deny the Divine origin of the Torah.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who eat non-kosher foods.

    In real Judaism, there are no “gay Rabbis” and no “lesbian Rabbis.”

    In real Judaism, there are no “marriage” ceremonies that unite Jewish men with non-Jewish women or non-Jewish men with Jewish women.

    In real Judaism, there are no “interfaith Passover seders.”

    In real Judaism, there are no Jews who pray in churches.

    In real Judaism, there are no “patrilineal Jews,” who claim to be Jewish because they were born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who permit kohanim to marry convert women or divorced women.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who approve of non-Jewish women “converting to Judaism” because they want to marry a RICH Jew.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who invite non-Jewish clergy to speak to the synagogue members.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who praise the founders of non-Jewish religions.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who tolerate foul or obscene or vulgar speech.

    In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who say:
    “You can be an atheist, and still be a good Jew.”

    I am very sorry of any if this offended you; my intention is not to offend, but to teach truths that Jews desperately need to hear.

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  5. Mr. Cohen,

    You sound like a very angry, cynical, and judgmental man. What Jews Desperately need to hear is not the nasty rant that runs from your mouth. AND yes... there are others who believe the way you do, but there are far more others who see Judaism in a very different way. THAT doesn't make them wrong. THAT doesn't make them LESS Jewish. THAT doesn't make them less devoted. It simply means that they have a different perspective. What the Jewish people need to hear is that there are ways to keep Jewish traditions alive and well in this ever changing and cruel world. Do Reform Jews not have a belief of ONE G-D?! YES, they do. Do Reform Jews celebrate Shabbat, Jewish holidays, etc? Yes, the do! Are there Reform Jews who honor Kashrut? Yes, there are. Are there Jews who claim to be Orthodox or Conservative who do not honor any form of Kashrut? Do not celebrate Shabbat or Jewish holidays…? Yes, there are. Is the better thing to have Judaism dissipate altogether, particularly in America where we are a nation of immigrants and it is very possible that Jews will fall in love with non-Jews ... so is it better to forget about Judaism altogether and make NO sort of attempt to honor Jewish traditions, celebrate Jewish holidays, come together as a Jewish community? In your mind it must be a lonely block of Jews who feel as you do, that you are better than others. It is easy to look down your nose, perhaps because you have yet to experience reasons to consider why someone would explore this form of Judaism. It is easy to look down your nose because you are clearly prejudice. You look down your nose the way white people segregated black people so many years ago. You are the type of person who looks down at women. Any woman who has put forth the devotion to her studies and cares to study Torah … should be able to. You must be better than the Reform Rabbi who spent countless hours of studying Judaism, studying the Torah, teaching it to others, AND has made a conscious effort to reach out to the community and find balance ... find a way to keep Judaism alive in today’s world. You might be someone who teaches, but you do not teach how to teach. The world needs new perspective. While I realize to you ... this is NOT “really Judaism”. It doesn't really matter because to millions of others ... it is. It is real. It is a beautiful religion in which blended families have come together and learned how to honor Jewish traditions ... maybe not in thee original way, but in a way that creates balance and peace. There are many Reform Rabbis and Converts who are committed to the land of Israel, who live more of a Jewish life than Jews who were born Jewish. There are many Reform congregants who attend services religiously Friday night and all day on Saturday. There are many people who celebrate Shabbat every Friday night. There are many Jewish families who honor and celebrate ALL Jewish holidays, not just the “BIG ONES”. It is a shame that people like yourself prefer segregation over families coming together literally together for a Jewish service studying a Torah potion, celebrating a Bar or even Bat Mitzvah acknowledging a young one’s commitment to the Jewish community, honoring their efforts and Hebrew studies, honoring a marriage where a husband and wife have made a commitment to give their children a Jewish upbringing. It is a shame that people like yourself prefer segregation over a husband and wife sitting through a nice service in a synagogue together receiving the interpretation of the weekly Torah portion and understanding how it applies to life and raising children in today’s world. You see today’s world is not a couple of blocks of judgmental people such as yourself and if we want our children to be successful in this world, then we need to teach them the social skills that you clearly lack.

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  6. cont ...
    We need to teach them Judaism as a peaceful religion, a love for One G-d, a place of community, a place where families can grow together as Jews aiming to keep as many of the Jewish traditions in their life as possible. What that means and looks like is different for every family. If people like yourself truly want to see a difference in the practice of Judaism than I would suggest you reconsider your selfish and demeaning behavior. I would suggest a nice outreach program targeting young families blended or not blended … You should be taking people who are beginning their families and teaching them your ways of Judaism at least the non-judgmental ones. The Jewish community on your side of the block should be more welcoming, teaching, warm, and loving. Because that part of the Jewish community lacks this compassion, so people find somewhere else to go … Last but not least, you are right about the amount of money people spend to become part of these communities … doesn’t it say something to you that people are willing to spend this type of money to be a part of an ever growing community that offers them a non-judgmental way to religious life honoring and worshipping One G-d? Doesn’t it say something to you that this is where the majority of the Jewish people in America choose to be? You really should blame yourself and people alike… it is the nastiness caused by others like you that has kept this same money and commitment from your communities where others would have gladly joined and helped to grow. There are many people who just didn’t know and no one in your world would bother to teach them.

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  7. "In real Judaism, there are no “Rabbis” who approve of non-Jewish women “converting to Judaism” because they want to marry a RICH Jew."

    Heh, that's hilarious. There are a number of verifiable cases out there of Orthodox rabbis selling conversions to people rich enough to make big donations to the synagogue building fund or whatever. I guess that means that Orthodoxy doesn't qualify as "real" Judaism, either? Also, if you think most non-Jewish women are rushing out to marry Jewish guys because they're rich, I have to question whether you've ever spoken either to a non-Jew or to a Jew who isn't Orthodox.

    In any case, the idea that your screed up there would prompt any non-Orthodox Jew to rethink their religious life and choose Orthodoxy is laughable. Your ranting is only likely to solidify the impressions that many, many heterodox Jews have of Orthodox Jews and Judaism: judgmental, unkind, shrill, controlling, insular and obsessed with things like kashrut and tznius but not basic kindness towards your fellow Yidden and human beings. I suppose you think you're speaking "hard truths" that some people need to hear, but you're not bringing them closer to Judaism- you're driving them away. Do you think anyone is going to read what you wrote and think, "Wow, you know, I should really light Shabbos candles this week," or, "Gee, maybe I was too hasty in rejecting Orthodoxy- I should give it another chance!"? If not, then it was a pointless exercise in self-congratulation. I hope it made you feel good, at least, because it's pretty evident that it was intended to benefit your ego, not our souls.

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  8. i don't think they give psychological evaluations because they really believe you are crazy. Rather they do it because people may feel quite insulted to be told this and would be more likely to walk away. and to put you down also. and one more thing: because 1. they themselves may have psychological issues. born Jews also suffer from mental illness like any other population, they're not immune. 2. if they do convert you and you are single and intend to get married, you may end up dating a born Jew who has mental health problems...so if you also "have" them or rather think yourself to be not all there, then it's more likely to be a shidduch. Also this tactic of being turned away by several beis dins: they are doing it on purpose to turn you away. to put as many deterrents before you to see if they can get rid of you or you will continue to want to be Jewish. and they will be mean to you and insult you as much as they can (and sometimes in not so obvious ways) because the beis dins behave like they're "G-d" . In fact, you can get multiple rejections by multiple ortho beis dins. it doesn't mean anything. i strongly believe that they all talk among each other and if your local Rabbi says oh he can't do anything to help and so on that's because that's the beis din strategy not because "per se" he can't do anything. and they may be really nice to you at some point and really mean to you at another, sometimes they'll decide to have nothing to do with you and sometimes they'll decide to give you another chance, and so on. and even if you do nothing wrong, they'll still be out to get you. and sometimes they will make it even more difficult by keep postponing endlessly and you never know what will happen and when. in any case, the truth is observant life can be very hard for a person later on. and so all this grilling is supposed to make things stick for you. but these Beis dins need to get a reality check and understand that you know what, a kind word can go a long way. and their bullying, once they convert you, who says you will forget and who says it won't affect your life later once they "made" you Jewish? ---This is not same Anonymous as before.

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  9. In the european country where I live they also make criminal back-groung checks about people who want to convert.They have their own contacts in the police who tell them discretely if you have a record or not.(It's the first time I write on here.)

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  10. What does a record of someone's past have to do with choosing to follow a religion? That's clearly not fair. If any good hearted sincere person who is 100% commited to Torah wants to observe Torah they should be allowed to convert.Reform and Conservative Rabbis are GREAT Rabbis. It seems that converts from Progressive movements are treated MUCH better and seem pretty happy, probably due to the fact that they are not spiritually and emotionally abused by an Orthodox Rabbinic Courts DENIAL, REJECTION and PUSHING AWAY.

    Oh, and in REAL JUDAISM so-called Rabbis don't discriminate against non-Jews or make an habit of playing God..

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    1. I am with you on this one!I find it unfair too;I was jus explaining what goes on were I live.

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    2. Not to mention that it's got to be some kind of a violation on the part of the police to just hand out copies of people's police record to some random rabbi who comes knocking. I don't have any kind of criminal record, but if I did and found out that was just being handed out to my beit din without my knowledge or consent, you'd better believe I'd start looking into the legality of that one so fast it'd make their head spin. Of course, I'm sure they don't have the nerve to actually *ask* the prospective convert about the record, because that would be far too logical. Instead they probably just let them twist in the wind for years until the would-be convert gives up and abandons the process. Classy!

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  11. well the issue is that they also have to make sure that people converting are not pretending and not being antisemitic. that's why it matters for security reasons so they don't hurt the Jewish community. also only in Ortho Judaism it is stressed out that keeping Kosher and Shabbat has to be done according to halacha. if a person converts but breaks the rules, then that person will be punished in the world to come. so Rabbis also have to make sure for the welfare of the person that this does not happen. there are many crazy people trying to hurt the Jewish community.--different anonymous.

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  12. Presumably, Orthodox Judaism also considers it important not to cheat on your taxes, yet I don't hear about batei din insisting that their prospective converts visit an accountant or subject themselves to auditing by the IRS. Funny, that.

    The "secret anti-semite" argument always makes me laugh, because it's patently absurd. How many anti-Semites do you really think are going to put themselves through a years-long conversion process, surrounded by Jews, and to what end, exactly? To find out all of our deepest secrets? What, exactly, do you think they would gain by doing this? If someone wants to hurt Jews, G-d forbid, there are already much, much, much easier ways to do it than trying to fake their way through the conversion process. Any conversion process. What a strange and illogical assertion to make.

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  13. Why bother with all this? Because 'lefum tzara agra'??

    When I started the conversion process, I was told over and over how difficult it was to be a Jew, what with antisemitism and the lifestyle changes. But you know what? The greatest difficulties I have experienced in my Jewish existence *by far* have been all the internal stuff described above and the self-inflicted Exilic disease of Legislated Piety, in that order.

    I've had a rough couple of decades of Jewish existence (I just turned 40, and yes, it was Ortho- the Av Beit Din was even the Rosh-RCA for a few years), so my connection to the Jewish community is kind of a cross between ambivalent and apathetic.

    I have continued to hear the call, both literal and figurative, to be a part of the Jewish community for the last few years despite that. But why should I continue to try to be a part of the Jewish community? Everything that entails costs yet more money, which takes away from our ability to both provide for ourselves now, and secure our joint future.

    "Rely on internal aid organizations" we've been told (i.e., SamIs, JFS, etc). But those orgs still want to know why you are putting your money into your physical future instead of your ideological present. Only if you have provided for your physical present and have nothing left over, will they help you. They have enough truly needy people to attend to, as it is (which is true). (Note: I think Nefesh B'Nefesh is overly idealistic; but at least nowadays they won't help you if you're trying to make aliyah without already having *some* resources, like the ability to get a comparable job in less than a year. They are also yichus-blind)

    "Investing in Klal Yisrael now will yield heavenly dividends" we've been told. That's all very well and good- but why should we have to make a choice between one (heaven) and the other (providing for our children and ourselves now and our own future)? Besides- the assumptions that Jewish community is worth any sacrifice, come from people who won't be making those sacrifices- If they are in Israel, they have been paying into the *pension* since they were old enough to be taxed. And they have Jewish family, so they have people who will take them in in case of indigency even if they don't like them. It is as offensive as the irony of the privileged white radicalist princesses of the Baby Boomer generation declaring to everyone else that we would all have to sacrifice for the greater good- when they themselves don't have to sacrifice anything (except maybe their parents' patience).

    This isn't a question of not wanting to deal with the same difficulties all other Jews- including religious ones- have to deal with, either. It's not a question of wanting to avoid ridicule, bigotry or persecution. It isn't even a question of struggling with the yetzer hara (re. sex, food, entertainment on Shabbat, etc). This is about being able to just live a normal life, Jewish or not.

    Also- why should we be loyal, beyond the limits of logic, base morality and rational self-interest, to a group that is not equally loyal to us, and treats us as second-class citizens?
    No sense in protesting it, you know. There may be many born Jews who love us and our fellow converts and have admired us for our dedication to the Jewish cause. But their love for us will, unfortunately, not provide for our futures, donations in the present notwithstanding. Because it is the people who treat us like second-class citizens, who have had our Jewish futures in their hands, ever since we declared our loyalty to the Jewish cause.

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    1. You fail to mention who are these "the people who treat us like second-class citizens"....

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    2. Sorry- there was more, but I guess it didn't get published. Let me try again...

      (cont.) In the Jewish community, converts can't get ahead like native members because, for example, we didn't speak idiomatic Hebrew (which is why I couldn't even get a job changing other women's babies' diapers in Israel- stupid, no?), and we don't have yichus (which is why no convert in an Ortho kehila will ever be allowed to marry a born Jew unless that born Jew couldn't get a spouse from amongst the usual candidates anyway, for some reason (pre-marital sex, low intelligence, lack of family yichus, etc.) or attain a primary position of leadership (which reminds me: if the Torah said 36 times not to treat converts any differently than born Jews, was the Rambam going against the Torah when he said "from amongst your brethren shall you choose him [the king]" meant "no converts in *any* leadership positions"? That's what the Rambam said. *wasn't he then saying that converts are not brethren?* (apparently, even the Rambam had moments of "the Torah couldn't possibly have meant *that*")) or even be taken as seriously as born Jews, no matter how much we learn or how many tests we pass.

      *(Yichus, shmichus! According to the testimony of the Jewish community itself, yichus is like a carrot: the best part is underground. And no point denying that, either, because the present Jewish communities sure talk a lot about how we can't disagree with our ancestors because they were so much greater than us, even when they circumstances they made certain takanot under have changed...)*
      No sense in protesting that "halacha forbids treating the convert any differently than a born Jew" either. That is true. But whoever says that must realize that repeating that condemns anyone who does it, right?

      A convert must come from a very specific set of circumstances for his or her conversion to be workable.
      They have to be young (and hence, still with plenty of time to pause in their life journey to pay extra time and money for conversion, Jewish classes, more dishes, a lot of other Jewish gear, more expensive housing, and fewer days of the year in which they are allowed to work. Then later, Jewish private schools for the several kids they will be expected to have. Aliyah on top of that? don't get me started...).
      They have to be unmarried (unless they are still young, and their spouse is equally as dedicated to the Jewish cause as they are).
      And they have to be childless (because any prejudice against converts will apply equally to their converted children). In fact, for social reasons that have nothing to do with halacha, it's best if converts will have been in the Jewish community long enough for the community to almost forget they are converts, before they start having children. (Also, did I mention that modern halacha has no sympathy for a woman's biological clock, either, when it comes to conversion?)

      And there is no point trying to save our children from our own disillusionment, either, because they too have been treated differently because their parents have been treated differently, and have *told* us they will not throw their lot in wholeheartedly with any community that treats their parents like that. (They're adolescents now) *[there's still more...]*

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    3. (cont.) I love Torah, and Tanach, and the holidays and Israel. It will probably always be important to me to a certain degree. And no Jew, no matter what their ideological orientation, need worry that I will simply stray to some other non-Toradik cause now that I'm not interested in frumkeit. But "l'fum tzara agra" ("according to the struggle is the reward" ) only goes so far. Trying to live according to that principle for so long *broke* me. After twenty years of this, I can say with confidence that becoming and being a concerned and involved Jew, was a twenty-years-long self-defeating exercise in frustration. Where is the reward? I don't even have the reward of struggling with fellow travelers, because every time I've gotten involved in frumkeit, or any other Jewish cause, I've *immersed* myself in it so thoroughly that the rest of my life suffers- and my fellow travels have *still expected more*! (I can't help myself; it's like an addiction: if I even touch any idea that becomes important to me, I do it so completely that it consumes me.) It doesn't matter what side of an issue I end up on, either; if I'm not immersing myself in it, I'm complaining about it. I've put my heart and soul into causes, primarily Jewish and Israeli ones, and got no so-called heavely rewards to show for it. I'm sick to death of causes. No more! All I want is for me and my family to be safe, happy, healthy and secure, and every larger issue I've ever become concerned with has taken away from that.

      Perhaps the community will learn from the mistakes they have made with me and 'my kind' so far. But we will not be benefitting from that, and life doesn't stop for anyone's personal hopes, and I don't even have those hopes anymore anyway, so it's time for us to move on.

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    4. Wow....that really hurts!I mean,you gave all yourself and is this the reward?One question though:do born Jews treat also converts who have a Jewish father(and thus yichus)like second-class citizens or are they viewed as "brothers"?

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    5. I don't know if converts can marry only other converts in ortho kehillot,but in this video you can see a son of Rome's chief rabbi marrying a convert girl with Israel's chief rabbi blessing the marriage:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRSY6FZs5jI

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    6. Children of converts with a Jewish father are treated somewhere in the middle... Not as poorly as my mother was treated, but neither as a full insider either. There is a difference. I felt it as a child and it turned me away from Judaism. I felt that I wasn't considered good enough.

      I want to protect my children from that. It is complicated.

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  14. In the Jewish community, converts can't get ahead like native members because, for example, we didn't speak idiomatic Hebrew (which is why I couldn't even get a job changing other women's babies' diapers in Israel- stupid, no?), and we don't have yichus (which is why no convert will ever be allowed to marry a born Jew unless that born Jew couldn't get a spouse from amongst the usual candidates anyway, for some reason (pre-marital sex, low intelligence, lack of family yichus, etc.) or attain a primary position of leadership (which reminds me: if the Torah said 36 times not to treat converts any differently than born Jews, was the Rambam going against the Torah when he said "from amongst your brethren shall you choose him [the king]" meant "no converts in *any* leadership positions"? That's what the Rambam said. *wasn't he then saying that converts are not brethren?* (apparently, even the Rambam had moments of "the Torah couldn't possibly have meant *that*")) or even be taken as seriously as born Jews, no matter how much we learn or how many tests we pass.

    *(Yichus, shmichus! According to the testimony of the Jewish community itself, yichus is like a carrot: the best part is underground. And no point denying that, either, because the present Jewish communities sure talk a lot about how we can't disagree with our ancestors because they were so much greater than us, even when they circumstances they made certain takanot under have changed...)*
    No sense in protesting that "halacha forbids treating the convert any differently than a born Jew" either. That is true. But whoever says that must realize that repeating that condemns anyone who does it, right?

    A convert must come from a very specific set of circumstances for his or her conversion to be workable.
    They have to be young (and hence, still with plenty of time to pause in their life journey to pay extra time and money for conversion, Jewish classes, more dishes, a lot of other Jewish gear, more expensive housing, and fewer days of the year in which they are allowed to work. Then later, Jewish private schools for the several kids they will be expected to have. Aliyah on top of that? don't get me started...).
    They have to be unmarried (unless they are still young, and their spouse is equally as dedicated to the Jewish cause as they are).
    And they have to be childless (because any prejudice against converts will apply equally to their converted children). In fact, for social reasons that have nothing to do with halacha, it's best if converts will have been in the Jewish community long enough for the community to almost forget they are converts, before they start having children. (Also, did I mention that modern halacha has no sympathy for a woman's biological clock, either, when it comes to conversion?)

    And there is no point trying to save our children from our own disillusionment, either, because they too have been treated differently because their parents have been treated differently, and have *told* us they will not throw their lot in wholeheartedly with any community that treats their parents like that. (They're adolescents now)

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  15. I love Torah, and Tanach, and the holidays and Israel. It will probably always be important to me to a certain degree. And no Jew, no matter what their ideological orientation, need worry that I will simply stray to some other non-Toradik cause now that I'm not interested in frumkeit. But "l'fum tzara agra" ("according to the struggle is the reward" ) only goes so far. Trying to live according to that principle for so long *broke* me. After twenty years of this, I can say with confidence that becoming and being a concerned and involved Jew, was a twenty-years-long self-defeating exercise in frustration. Where is the reward? I don't even have the reward of struggling with fellow travelers, because every time I've gotten involved in frumkeit, or any other Jewish cause, I've *immersed* myself in it so thoroughly that the rest of my life suffers- and my fellow travels have *still expected more*! (I can't help myself; it's like an addiction: if I even touch any idea that becomes important to me, I do it so completely that it consumes me.) It doesn't matter what side of an issue I end up on, either; if I'm not immersing myself in it, I'm complaining about it. I've put my heart and soul into causes, primarily Jewish and Israeli ones, and got no so-called heavenly rewards to show for it. I'm sick to death of causes. No more! All I want is for me and my family to be safe, happy, healthy and secure, and every larger issue I've ever become concerned with has taken away from that.

    Perhaps the community will learn from the mistakes they have made with me and 'my kind' so far. But we will not be benefiting from that, and life doesn't stop for anyone's personal hopes, and I don't even have those hopes anymore anyway, so it's time for us to move on.

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  16. I've personally heard quite a few Jews,including a rabbi,clearly state:"Converts are NOT Jews.They are gerim-strangers who live among us and share our religion;but are NOT Jews!"

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  17. To the Anon. who was wondering who the bigots are exactly: the rabbi who supervised my conversion; the entire conversion apparatus; a lot of shadchantas and roshei yeshiva; the Rabbanut in Israel; the Shema Yisrael Torah Network; the Interior Ministry of Israel; and most people in Israel who had it within their power to give us discounted housing and/or more than just subsistence jobs. And a goodly handful of ordinary, but ignorant/insensitive/rude balabatim (in both Israel and the Diaspora), but who had no more than the power to whisper misleading information into the ears of those with real power.

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  18. To the Anonymous who said: "I've personally heard quite a few Jews,including a rabbi,clearly state:"Converts are NOT Jews.They are gerim-strangers who live among us and share our religion;but are NOT Jews!"

    These Rabbis are not true Rabbis and those Jews are a bunch of mamzerim...they are a shame to the Jewish community and a bunch of a**holes for picking on those who converts. it should not be brought up anymore. once a person went through a conversion process, they are Jews. end of story.

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