HomeCalendarFAQSearchRegisterLog in

Share | 
 

 Converting Without Spouse

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Go to page : Previous  1, 2
AuthorMessage
Dena

avatar

Posts : 678
Join date : 2011-09-05
Age : 35

PostSubject: Converting Without Spouse   Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:26 pm

First topic message reminder :

This is a topic that has come up elsewhere so I thought I would bring it up here. I know it applies to a few of us and may be of interest to others as well.

Did you convert while being married to a non-Jew who did not convert? How has it gone for you? How have you managed to compromise? Was your partner religious or non-religious?
Back to top Go down

AuthorMessage
tamar

avatar

Posts : 181
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Northern Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:34 pm

etana4310 wrote:
So basically, the advice that would be offered to a person such as myself would be "don't convert...just be nothing." ??

You are getting feedback from those of us who have made the transition. We are telling you how it was for us.

My family has had to make huge changes, and were not all that religious to begin with. We did not celebrate any religion in our house. But when my first son was born I freaked out and all of a sudden religion became huge. I did not want my kids to grow up with nothing like I did. Just celebrating Christian holidays because they happened to be born into a family with Christian roots like I did.

So I went with Christianity because that is all I knew. What a mistake that was and when my oldest was 9, I walked away and never went back. The younger 2 don't even remember that part of our lives.

But for my then 9 year old it was a difficult time. I could no longer bear that he was being taught a religion that I have never agreed with and I ignored that.

Judaism has allowed me to ask the difficult questions and get answers that have brought peace into my home.
But it has been really difficult.

It has been a long journey for all of us. No one is telling you that you can't go to temple or that you can't continue your search but you will have a very difficult time.

I would not want 2 religions in my family and I will tell you why. When my kids first started Hebrew school we were part of a community that had many interfaith families and they celebrated both religions because one parent was Christian and the other Jewish. The kids were just confused. They had no idea what they were. They at some point had to choose and that meant choosing one parents religion over the other.

Christianity and Judaism are polar opposites. Christianity teaches that they are right and true and others who don't accept Jesus are going to hell. Now I am sure that there is a spectrum but Catholicism has a very traditional pope who is moving the church backwards. My parents who are Catholic have left the church because of its movement back to the traditional. Catholicism has a very problematic history with Judaism.

The Rabbis will ask the same tough questions.







Back to top Go down
Debbie B.

avatar

Posts : 373
Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:42 pm

To add a comment to the replies that have posted recently:

Etana:

I agree with "Maculated"s advice: buy a siddur and an Intro to Judaism book (or try Jewish Literacy, an 800+ page brief summary of everything Jewish) and do plenty of self-study. Don't go to Mass if you feel uncomfortable about it, but be sure that you explain to your children that you are sorting out your own relationship to God. It could be scary for them if it seems that by rejecting Catholicism for yourself that since that is their religion, that you might reject that part of themselves. And really it is not fair to them to change their religion suddenly without considering how they feel about it. I think you should take a lot more time to quietly work out your own religious feelings and identity before involving your children too much.

Why, if you having been thinking about issues with your own religious identity for the past three years, did you decide to put your children in Catholic school?

I don't usually contradict what someone believes about themselves, but "Etana" you are "just beginning" on the road to Judaism. No matter how much you have thought your own religious identity in your own head, you have not had much experience with Judaism as understood by Jews and in being a part of a Jewish community which is really a key part of a Jewish identity. The "believing" part is a much less important component of Judaism than most Christians think.


Last edited by Debbie B. on Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:44 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link for book)
Back to top Go down
tamar

avatar

Posts : 181
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Northern Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:42 pm

Etana,

Both Debbie and Maculated are giving good solid advice. Just go slowly, don't make big changes and allow your family to really make choices for themselves.
Back to top Go down
etana4310



Posts : 16
Join date : 2012-01-12
Location : New England

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:11 pm

I just wanted to respond to a few comments. I sincerely hoped that there was a place for me, and I know all of you are just telling it like it is - maybe I am just sensitive and wishing for someone - anyone to just say, "where there is a will, there is a way" or "we're here to help you along your journey" The feedback seems so coarse and cold, again, it could just be the bleakness of my own situation...who knows.

Quote :
I agree with "Maculated"s advice: buy a siddur and an Intro to Judaism book

Already have one and have been praying it for some time, as well as many other reference books on Judaism.

Quote :
Don't fool yourself into believing that if someone loves you enough, and if you feel that Judaism expresses who you are, that s/he will be happy if you convert.

I have been married 17 years. We have six children. We have been to hell and back again. If there is anything I have learned along our marital journey is not to "be fool enough." I\'ll Shut Up

Quote :
The kids were just confused. They had no idea what they were. They at some point had to choose and that meant choosing one parents religion over the other.

There was never a question as to whether the children would convert. We had already decided that the are to remain Catholic. I would never put them in a situation that would make them ever feel they had to 'pick.' Speaking for at least the older three children (9, 10 and 14) they HAVE their identity. I cannot change that at this point in time and it's not fair to split the family in half and make the younger three Jewish, though I would certainly love to have some of the children Jewish, I know this wouldn't be wise. I am a mother of six children. I know what would and would not destroy their fragile psyche's. I won't jepordize their hearts or souls by upsetting THEIR applecarts.

Quote :
And really it is not fair to them to change their religion suddenly without considering how they feel about it.

Again, I would NEVER do anything SUDDENLY without much thought and consideration and without my husband's full approval and conviction to do so.

Quote :
I think you should take a lot more time to quietly work out your own religious feelings and identity before involving your children too much.

FYI - I have "quietly" been working out my religion for three years and my children KNOW NOTHING of my interest in Judaism. NOTHING.

Quote :
Why, if you having been thinking about issues with your own religious identity for the past three years, did you decide to put your children in Catholic school?

I am not sure, Debbie, why you are asking me this question? I am a big believer in CONSISTENCY with my children. As a child I had NO consistency. I was bounced around all the time. We were homeschooling and I was BURNED out completely. Since our family is Catholic - that is where we decided to put them if they were to go to a regular school.

Quote :
I don't usually contradict what someone believes about themselves, but "Etana" you are "just beginning" on the road to Judaism.

Thank you "Debbie" for your observations about my life and my soul, especially since you don't even know me. Why you felt the need to put my name in quotes? Who knows. I suppose you feel more of an expert in the conversion area than I so you can judge where I am, therefore I am just a beginner. Thank you and - whatever.

I suppose you all are trying to help, give advice, tell me how hard this road is, but here is some advice from me - maybe give some kind encouragement and some hope - that goes a long way - longer than the negatives do.
Back to top Go down
etana4310



Posts : 16
Join date : 2012-01-12
Location : New England

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:13 pm

Quote :
Just go slowly, don't make big changes and allow your family to really make choices for themselves.

I AM GOING SLOWLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Slowly enough that I am going to come to a complete stop...now.

Thanks for the advice folks. It's like getting a big hug from a porcupine! Frustrated
Back to top Go down
maculated

avatar

Posts : 156
Join date : 2011-09-08
Age : 37
Location : San Luis Obispo, CA

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:17 pm

Etana, I think you are projecting some negative attitudes that nobody here is putting on you. You asked for advice and we gave it. If you asked for warm fuzzies, I have given those, too. Like I said, stuff works itself out.

I definitely have lived my life against odds and it has been painful, but also extraordinary. I just personally wanted to warn you against some things that your tone and choice of words seemed to reveal to me.
Back to top Go down
http://www.about.me/kristin.mcnamara
tamar

avatar

Posts : 181
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Northern Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:13 pm

Wow Etana,

I think you have taken what we all said all wrong. I know that for my journey I never in the beginning would have expected the changes that came to my family. My journey was a process and all that we have said to you the Rabbi said to me. She asked me the tough questions. Any Rabbi will ask you the same questions. Becoming Jewish is not like just joining a church where you accept Christian theology and become Christian.

You are asking for your family to continue on their road of being Catholic while you become Jewish. You are talking about removing Catholic items from your house and bringing in Kashrut and shabbat while they continue being Catholic. You are talking about taking your younger kids to Temple while your other children continue to go to the Catholic church.

You are talking about changing your religion which will cause changes to your family and we trying to point out the issues we see.

What others and I agree is that you go slowly. Attend a Temple service. Continue to learn. The local Reform Temples run an introduction to Judaism classes once a year in my area and it is a way for folks interested in Judaism to be in a class with other who are interested.

Becoming Jewish is a journey and because you will have an interfaith family you will need to move forward in a way that works for everyone. We all have made the journey and as many have said it was not easy. It was a process of give and take and in my house the end result was 2 out of 3 kids wanted to be Jewish.

There are many curves in the road and I would hope a Rabbi you speak with would be really honest with you and help you to understand that it will be a journey.
Back to top Go down
esf

avatar

Posts : 84
Join date : 2012-01-02

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:25 pm

There has been a lot of good advice here. You say you are working with a rabbi.. well, surely he/she would be the person to go to with your (very difficult) questions? Of course you don't have to share all those details, but I'd be curious to know whether the rabbis you have spoken with have given you answers you don't want to hear, and that's why you were hoping to hear something different here?
Back to top Go down
etana4310



Posts : 16
Join date : 2012-01-12
Location : New England

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:36 pm

Quote :
There has been a lot of good advice here. You say you are working with a rabbi.. well, surely he/she would be the person to go to with your (very difficult) questions? Of course you don't have to share all those details, but I'd be curious to know whether the rabbis you have spoken with have given you answers you don't want to hear, and that's why you were hoping to hear something different here?

I have spoken with a Reform Rabbi who said he is willing to work with me. He also said he was going to speak with his colleagues about my situation and get their opinion as well. He invited me to come to Torah study Sat. morning as well as the intro to Judaism class Mon. nights. So no - I didn't come here looking for a "different" answer. I came here for support, friendship as I travel through a what seems like a difficult journey. I feel like I am met with much suspicion and it makes me uncomfortable: putting my name is quotes - making assumptions about what I might or might not do with my OWN family -

I cannot do this alone - without support. I cannot attend synagogue on a regular basis and make friends because my husband still commutes out of state (300 miles away - he's here every two weeks and gone every two weeks). I came here because I also don't have any support because I am in a new state and don't know anyone either. I don't have anyone else to "bounce" stuff off of because my husband is still just getting used to the idea I want to convert. It just seemed like I was getting "grilled" when I was hoping for hope and encouragement. If I misunderstood, then my bad.

I did learn that this probably is impossible and the best thing is to probably withdrawal into the background and just be nothing. I think there are a lot of friendly other "nothings" out there Very Happy
Back to top Go down
tamar

avatar

Posts : 181
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Northern Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:49 pm

[quote="etana4310"]
Quote :
There has been a lot of good advice here. You say you are working with a rabbi.. well, surely he/she would be the person to go to with your (very difficult) questions? Of course you don't have to share all those details, but I'd be curious to know whether the rabbis you have spoken with have given you answers you don't want to hear, and that's why you were hoping to hear something different here?

I have spoken with a Reform Rabbi who said he is willing to work with me. He also said he was going to speak with his colleagues about my situation and get their opinion as well. He invited me to come to Torah study Sat. morning as well as the intro to Judaism class Mon. nights. So no - I didn't come here looking for a "different" answer. I came here for support, friendship as I travel through a what seems like a difficult journey. I feel like I am met with much suspicion and it makes me uncomfortable: putting my name is quotes - making assumptions about what I might or might not do with my OWN family -

You have not been met with suspicion, you have heard our stories and we are trying to convey to you that with a family firmly Catholic you do face a journey. What I have picked up is your need to bring Judaism into your home in a way that will be very overwhelming to a Catholic family.

I cannot do this alone - without support. I cannot attend synagogue on a regular basis and make friends because my husband still commutes out of state (300 miles away - he's here every two weeks and gone every two weeks). I came here because I also don't have any support because I am in a new state and don't know anyone either. I don't have anyone else to "bounce" stuff off of because my husband is still just getting used to the idea I want to convert. It just seemed like I was getting "grilled" when I was hoping for hope and encouragement. If I misunderstood, then my bad.

You are right you cannot do it alone. You need your husband to be on board. You need a support network. You need to have an understanding of how this will bring change to your family and I don't think you do.

I did learn that this probably is impossible and the best thing is to probably withdrawal into the background and just be nothing. I think there are a lot of friendly other "nothings" out there Very Happy

You don't need to need to withdraw and be nothing. You can start your journey but that does mean that you understand you are in for a family change.
Back to top Go down
searchinmyroots

avatar

Posts : 152
Join date : 2011-12-01
Location : New York

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:05 pm

Etana,

This has been a very interesting thread.

As an outsider looking in, I do see a lot of support here, although it may not seem that way.

Try to look at the good things that were said. There is encouragement. Encouragement to stay the course, to take it slow so that things don't just explode.

Most of what you are hearing are warnings. warnings of people who have been on a similiar road. They care about you and want to make sure you understand your journey. They want you to be aware that, just like many things in Judaism itself, the road will never be easy.

But it will be worth it!


As Tamar said "Becoming Jewish is a journey and because you will have an interfaith family you will need to move forward in a way that works for everyone. We all have made the journey and as many have said it was not easy..

This is the best encouragement.

It's like being rejected by the Beit Din 3 times. Do you give up? Or do you continue?

Even when you may feel beaten down, stay strong and stay the path.

I said this to someone else and I think it may be appropriate here as well.....

The wait may seem forver. The result will last a lifetime.


I wanted to add something I just thought of while eating dinner. Judaism is built on journeys, trials and learning experiences.

The Israelites were slaves for many years before their freedom. They wandered in the desert for many years before they reached the promised land. King David wanted so badly to build the Temple, but G-d wanted King Solomon to build it. Jacob had to wait for Rachel after he married Leah..

It's just part of Judaism. It's part of the family.
Back to top Go down
Debbie B.

avatar

Posts : 373
Join date : 2011-09-05
Location : Chicagoland

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:55 pm

etana4310 wrote:

Quote :
I don't usually contradict what someone believes about themselves, but "Etana" you are "just beginning" on the road to Judaism.

Thank you "Debbie" for your observations about my life and my soul, especially since you don't even know me. Why you felt the need to put my name in quotes? Who knows. I suppose you feel more of an expert in the conversion area than I so you can judge where I am, therefore I am just a beginner. Thank you and - whatever.
Lots to unravel and reply to later, but first, let me explain: I put "Etana" in quotes because for sure your given name could not be exactly the same as your login: "etana4310". Truly I meant no disrespect. Note that I put also "Maculated" in quotes even though I do know her full real name and have exchanged personal private messages with her, and I feel close to her in a special way because of the exchanges we've had. Some day perhaps we'll meet in person (we missed the chance a few years ago when she was in my area, but we didn't really "know" each other well yet), and then I will certainly use one of the two names she uses socially. Many people choose (for good reason) to use pseudonyms online. I happen to use my real name in part because when I first became involved on an online JBC site, I didn't even realize that other posters were using their Hebrew names. So "Debbie" is the name I've been called since I was born, and I use my real last initial only because I grew up always having other "Debbie"s in my classes, so I think of it as a too common name. I wanted to leave space for other "Debbie"s who might join without having taken up the whole namespace myself. I joined that other group somewhat before I completed my formal conversion or I might have used "Devorah Rut", my Hebrew name (which is what is on the papercut art work that I use for my avatar---it was a "conversion gift" from close friends from my minyan) But I realize that many people assume it is a pseudonym and that doesn't bother me. I just found out a couple of years ago that an Orthodox family in Israel who has known me for 20 years always assumed that I changed my name to "Deborah" (and went by Debbie in English) "when I converted" before I married my husband. But as I noted above, I did not convert before marriage, and I chose not to tell those dear friends that only the last time I visited Israel did I do so as a Jew.

Quote :

I suppose you all are trying to help, give advice, tell me how hard this road is, but here is some advice from me - maybe give some kind encouragement and some hope - that goes a long way - longer than the negatives do.
I think we saw it as being realistic, not negative.

There are many Jewish jokes that Jews tell about themselves about a particular type of pessimistic outlook that is part of Jewish culture. Perhaps some of us have just picked up that aspect of Jewish culture too well. ;)

The reality is that I don't know a single Jew by Choice who has not had some incidents where they were discouraged from converting or told after they had converted that they "weren't really Jewish". I remember an article written by a Jew by Choice complaining that most converts are not sufficiently prepared by their rabbis for the difficulties or negative reactions they will encounter. I think posters on this forum felt that warning you was more helpful than telling you that everything would be fine when that is not what they have found in their own experiences.

Perhaps you did not understand that I thought I was giving you hope by suggesting in the very beginning of my post that converting to Judaism in the near future was not the only option---that you don't have to see the alternative as being a "nothing"---because I was in the situation for a long time and it wasn't even all negative. Maybe you thought my "25 years" was meant to scare you off---but what I meant is that even if some might consider my story to be a "worst case" scenario, I did finally convert and I can now look back at what was at times a very uncomfortable situation and see that there were even positive aspects of my idiosyncratic journey to conversion. You have a lot of obstacles, but you are likely to work things out in less time, so if I survived, so will you.


Last edited by Debbie B. on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:38 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
etana4310



Posts : 16
Join date : 2012-01-12
Location : New England

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:48 pm

Quote :
I put "Etana" in quotes because for sure your given name could not be exactly the same as your login: "etana4310". Truly I meant no disrespect.

Thank you for explaining.

Quote :
I think we saw it as being realistic, not negative.

;) I know all too well what my reality is and it happens to be negative too (that's a joke) :) Because I am up here in New England and I don't know anyone and the people at the Chapel/School aren't particulary friendly and my husband is back and forth....well I am just a TAD edgy.

Quote :
I think posters on this forum felt that warning you was more helpful than telling you that everything would be fine when that is not what they have found in their own experiences.

I already know everything is not going to be fine and life is hard - trust me. I come from a very strict part of Catholicism (Traditional Latin). When I got pregnant with my last child I was admitted to the hospital three months before her birth because I was in danger of her rupturing into my abdomen. My OB, who happened to be Jewish and very dear to my heart to this day - wanted to tie my tubes on the operating table. My dh and spoke with our priest, who in turn spoke with a canon lawyer (someone taught in Rome and a professional in the laws of the church) who told us we were NOT allowed to have my tubes tied, nor a partial hysterectomy unless my uterus was causing me to die ON THE TABLE because it was considered birth control which we are not allowed to practice. Now, mind you THREE high risk OB's had told me not to have any more children THREE children ago when my uterus was giving out, but we were obedient to the church and tried practicing the rhythm method (which obviously didn't work). At any rate, I wound up hospitalized, away from my husband and children for six weeks to have a preemie baby born five weeks early and in the intensive care for another month. My surgery was four hours long. My uterus was saved. Now we are told by the church to be celibate until menopause. Sigh.

What's my point? I know all about 'things are going be difficult and hard' and 'you have to muddle through'. I know it's typical for Jews to 'discourage' would-be Jews, but I know this is what is supposed to BE for me. I have no question whatsoever that this is what G-d wants for me. Maybe not now - and I am taking it slow, slow enough that the kids don't even know.

Quote :
You have a lot of obstacles, but you are likely to work things out in less time, so if I survived, so will you.

I know I will survive. I know I have a tendancy to throw my arms up...mostly out of exhaustion or sadness because I just want someone to hold my hand and say, "I'll be with you through this all!" My husband and I were left to "fend for ourselves" after my last child was born. We almost wound up almost divorced trying to go the "celibate" route! One priest actually suggested we "get a hobby like fishing or knitting and our desires will become less physical" Sigh. Yes, I know how to survive and get through very tough times. I just need support and an occasional "we're routing for you."
Back to top Go down
tamar

avatar

Posts : 181
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Northern Virginia

PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:00 pm

etana4310 wrote:
Quote :
I put "Etana" in quotes because for sure your given name could not be exactly the same as your login: "etana4310". Truly I meant no disrespect.

Thank you for explaining.

Quote :
I think we saw it as being realistic, not negative.

;) I know all too well what my reality is and it happens to be negative too (that's a joke) :) Because I am up here in New England and I don't know anyone and the people at the Chapel/School aren't particulary friendly and my husband is back and forth....well I am just a TAD edgy.

Quote :
I think posters on this forum felt that warning you was more helpful than telling you that everything would be fine when that is not what they have found in their own experiences.

I already know everything is not going to be fine and life is hard - trust me. I come from a very strict part of Catholicism (Traditional Latin). When I got pregnant with my last child I was admitted to the hospital three months before her birth because I was in danger of her rupturing into my abdomen. My OB, who happened to be Jewish and very dear to my heart to this day - wanted to tie my tubes on the operating table. My dh and spoke with our priest, who in turn spoke with a canon lawyer (someone taught in Rome and a professional in the laws of the church) who told us we were NOT allowed to have my tubes tied, nor a partial hysterectomy unless my uterus was causing me to die ON THE TABLE because it was considered birth control which we are not allowed to practice. Now, mind you THREE high risk OB's had told me not to have any more children THREE children ago when my uterus was giving out, but we were obedient to the church and tried practicing the rhythm method (which obviously didn't work). At any rate, I wound up hospitalized, away from my husband and children for six weeks to have a preemie baby born five weeks early and in the intensive care for another month. My surgery was four hours long. My uterus was saved. Now we are told by the church to be celibate until menopause. Sigh.

What's my point? I know all about 'things are going be difficult and hard' and 'you have to muddle through'. I know it's typical for Jews to 'discourage' would-be Jews, but I know this is what is supposed to BE for me. I have no question whatsoever that this is what G-d wants for me. Maybe not now - and I am taking it slow, slow enough that the kids don't even know.

Quote :
You have a lot of obstacles, but you are likely to work things out in less time, so if I survived, so will you.

I know I will survive. I know I have a tendancy to throw my arms up...mostly out of exhaustion or sadness because I just want someone to hold my hand and say, "I'll be with you through this all!" My husband and I were left to "fend for ourselves" after my last child was born. We almost wound up almost divorced trying to go the "celibate" route! One priest actually suggested we "get a hobby like fishing or knitting and our desires will become less physical" Sigh. Yes, I know how to survive and get through very tough times. I just need support and an occasional "we're routing for you."


If Catholicism has caused such pain to you and your husband why stay? My parents are Catholic and with this new pope they have seen the church become even more traditional and they walked away because of it.

They have always loved the Catholic view of social justice and my dad worked for years in Haiti.

When I realized I could not let my children grow up Catholic I walked away. I did not walk to Judaism right away but I did not continue to have Catholicism in my house. I spent Christmas with my parents and my mother in law so my kids would not feel such a loss. But I did not want my children to believe what Catholicism was teaching.

When the church hid the child abuse I could no longer trust the Catholic church. With all the questioning I had started to have and my issues around the church this was the final straw and I knew that I did not want my kids to be Catholic. I spent the next 3 years without any religion at all in my house until I finally realized that the draw was still there to find my place. And the searching began again as I struggled once again.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Converting Without Spouse   

Back to top Go down
 
Converting Without Spouse
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 2 of 2Go to page : Previous  1, 2

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
 :: Jewish Fundamentals :: Conversion Discussion & Issues-
Jump to: