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 Limmud -- should I go?

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LineyLu

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PostSubject: Limmud -- should I go?   Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:25 am

Okay, I'm sure a lot of people on here have heard of Limmud. It's supposed to be this convention with all sorts of religious/cultural Jewish things. It started in the UK but has spread to the US. Here is an article with more info if you want a more in-depth explanation: Limmud at 30

Well...those of you who read my intro post are familiar with my situation. I live in a city with only two Reform synagogues. I also go to a Catholic high school. I've been to a Passover Seder at Synagogue A (due to an interesting volunteer opportunity that arose when rabbi of Synagogue A -- which is across the street from my school -- contacted my school's campus minister asking for volunteers to help serve food. The campus minister is in charge of advertising community service opportunities.) I've also been to Synagogue B with one of the teachers at my school who happens to be Jewish. The reason that I don't go to either synagogue on a regular basis is because (a) I'm still trying to get my parents used to my liking "Jewish things." It's working slowly but surely, and I don't want to rock the boat. Also, (b) I can tell that my teacher would be uncomfortable with the idea of my attending synagogue regularly (she made me get permission from my parents, and almost made me get permission from the school theology department before letting me go with her.) She goes to Synagogue B, and since Synagogue A is right next to my school, someone would find out if I started going there. I definitely don't blame my teacher for her feelings on this -- in fact, I would probably feel the same way if I were in her place. And I definitely don't want anyone to cast aspersions on her reputation if I became more openly "Jewish." (In particular, I don't think my parents would connect my interest in Judaism to her, but you never know. I would be more concerned with the higher-ups at my school somehow finding out and thinking that she was converting me or something.)

Anyway, back to my original point...I found out today that a Limmud conference is happening in (major) City X about an hour away from me. It's in March, and it would be the perfect opportunity to FINALLY do something after many months of living vicariously through various websites, this forum, and the collection of Jewish music on my computer. Awesome, right? But how will I manage to get there without my parents knowing? I'm not sure if I'm going to go through with it, but I have a plan to get there on my own....

I'm free during the weekend that Limmud is happening. It starts on a Saturday night and extends through the day on Sunday. I don't think I could make it on Saturday night since I can't think of any believable excuse to give my parents as to why I'd need to stay overnight in City X (which has a terrible reputation for crime, anyway). BUT, I think I could make it on Sunday. I've applied (and been accepted) to a university in City X, and this university is hosting Limmud...funny how things work out like that, huh? And I've applied to a lot of colleges/universities, and I won't know all the ones I'm accepted to until April (over half of them won't notify me until then.) SO, if I tell my parents that I'm visiting the campus of the university in City X (because I'll have several colleges that are much farther away to visit once April comes around, and I might as well get this college visit done early), I could go to Limmud and they wouldn't know the difference. YES, I know I'm not being entirely truthful, but I'll technically be visiting the campus (and I'll probably take a short tour while I'm there anyway), so I'm not exactly lying about where I am. So...any thoughts on this? Because of my age, I can register for Limmud for only $10, so it's not a huge loss if things don't work out.

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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:10 am

Before I give you my advice, I should tell you that (1) I have been on the Chicago Limmud programming committee since its inaugural year, three years ago, so I am a big fan of Limmud. I hope to go to the UK Limmud some time in the future. (2) I am the mother of a 17 year old daughter.

Yes, you would probably enjoy Limmud, but I really don't think you should go if you have to lie to your parents or not let them know that you are going. You will have many future opportunities to enjoy Limmud, and frankly, you will get a lot more out of it when you have a more thorough Jewish educational background. For most converts, dealing with parents is difficult, varying between mildly hurt feelings to outright disownment. It is completely understandable if you think about the time and effort most parents put into raising children in the best way they know how. I think that being honest with your parents is the best policy and the only consistent way to treat them if you expect them to respect you in return. Just remember that those times when it is hardest to be honest are sometimes the most important times for that honesty.

Try to have patience, although I know it is hard to do at 17. But it is OK to have to wait for some time before converting. I myself did not formally convert until almost 25 years after I first started to attend synagogue regularly (at the university Hillel when I was a grad student at age 22) and almost 22 years after marrying my Jewish husband. A key reason for the delay was not wanting to face my parent's reaction. Now I'm certainly not advocating waiting quite that long, but I will tell you that it was different and more special when I finally did convert because I really knew well who I was and what I was getting into when I converted. And I had already done so much learning and becoming a part of my Jewish community that I had already dealt with issues that other converts have to face in the early years after conversion.

Slow and steady and thorough is the best way to convert to Judaism IMHO. Remember that there is no "damnation" and no problem with not being Jewish in Jewish theology, so there is less reason to rush to convert. I know of cases of converts who basically have psychological break-downs due I believe to trying to do too much too soon without sufficiently understanding themselves. Really and truly understanding the deepest aspects of yourself is extremely difficult. Most people I know continue to grow in that understanding throughout their lives. It's one reason I actually love being middle-aged Laughing

There are good reasons that most rabbis will not convert teenagers. And those prospective converts can still convert in a few years when they are older.

OK, so you probably didn't want to hear what sounds like a parental lecture. But do think hard about whether it wouldn't be better just to wait a bit for more Jewish experiences. It will be a much better time to investigate and perhaps pursue conversion when you are in college. I would definitely suggest that you make sure that there are plenty of Jewish students and an active Hillel at whichever college you decide to attend. A university Hillel can be an ideal introduction to Judaism for young prospective converts (that's where I got my my first taste of Judaism) and a perfect opportunity for you given that you will also be out of your parents house and more able to do things without needing their explicit permission. Check out the Koach website for information on how "Jewish friendly" various colleges are. Feel free to PM me if you want some feedback about particular colleges---I know about many of them because I have a lot of friends with college-age kids and my own daughter is applying this year too.
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LineyLu

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:24 am

Debbie B. wrote:


Yes, you would probably enjoy Limmud, but I really don't think you should go if you have to lie to your parents or not let them know that you are going. You will have many future opportunities to enjoy Limmud, and frankly, you will get a lot more out of it when you have a more thorough Jewish educational background. For most converts, dealing with parents is difficult, varying between mildly hurt feelings to outright disownment. It is completely understandable if you think about the time and effort most parents put into raising children in the best way they know how. I think that being honest with your parents is the best policy and the only consistent way to treat them if you expect them to respect you in return. Just remember that those times when it is hardest to be honest are sometimes the most important times for that honesty.

Try to have patience, although I know it is hard to do at 17. But it is OK to have to wait for some time before converting. I myself did not formally convert until almost 25 years after I first started to attend synagogue regularly (at the university Hillel when I was a grad student at age 22) and almost 22 years after marrying my Jewish husband. A key reason for the delay was not wanting to face my parent's reaction. Now I'm certainly not advocating waiting quite that long, but I will tell you that it was different and more special when I finally did convert because I really knew well who I was and what I was getting into when I converted. And I had already done so much learning and becoming a part of my Jewish community that I had already dealt with issues that other converts have to face in the early years after conversion.


Slow and steady and thorough is the best way to convert to Judaism IMHO. Remember that there is no "damnation" and no problem with not being Jewish in Jewish theology, so there is less reason to rush to convert. I know of cases of converts who basically have psychological break-downs due I believe to trying to do too much too soon without sufficiently understanding themselves. Really and truly understanding the deepest aspects of yourself is extremely difficult. Most people I know continue to grow in that understanding throughout their lives. It's one reason I actually love being middle-aged Laughing

There are good reasons that most rabbis will not convert teenagers. And those prospective converts can still convert in a few years when they are older.

I'm not planning on beginning any conversion process for at least a few years (no earlier than my second year in college.) So I'm definitely not in any rush to convert. It's just that I have no practical way of interacting with a Jewish community.

On the issue of my parents, I'm not going to lie about the fact that I'm a bit apprehensive...but they'd never go so far as to disown me. My mother converted to Catholicism after marrying my dad, and my Baptist grandmother shunned my mom for a certain period of time. I was too young to remember most of that, but it caused a lot of pain for my parents and they wouldn't do the same thing to me. And I haven't been fully hiding my interest in Judaism. My parents know about all the Jewish CDs I have, and they often listen to them when they borrow my car (last week I taught them what niggunim and klezmer were, and a third of the drive to my grandmother's house for Christmas had a Hebrew soundtrack...) And while I haven't been waving my Etz Hayim chumash in their faces, I'm not hiding it either. I've also chanted Hebrew for them and they seemed fascinated (my dad even mentioned getting Rosetta Stone Hebrew Wink and Smile ) There's even a running joke in my immediate family that I'm "converting." So if it seems like I'm completely leading a double life, I'm not. It's just that I don't make public the extent to which I'm doing what I am...



Debbie B. wrote:

OK, so you probably didn't want to hear what sounds like a parental lecture.

Haha, it's okay. Laughing

Debbie B. wrote:

But do think hard about whether it wouldn't be better just to wait a bit for more Jewish experiences.

You are correct when you say I don't have many Jewish experiences. But I have been actively learning for over a year now, and I'm now at a point where it's extremely maddening. I don't know if this is the best analogy, but it's like being an incredible singer with no one to be your audience. Which is why I want to go to Limmud so badly. I'm not even a "people person," but it gets lonely after a certain period of time. The more I think about it, the more I'm considering mentioning the idea to my parents...as in, "I'll visit this college, then I'll just drop by this Jewish thing that happens to be going on called Limmud." They might not be as thrilled about it as I am, but it might work. The city where this takes place is far enough away that it wouldn't be a stretch to spend the whole day there. So I could go, take a tour of the campus, and then spend the rest of my time at Limmud.

Debbie B. wrote:
I would definitely suggest that you make sure that there are plenty of Jewish students and an active Hillel at whichever college you decide to attend. A university Hillel can be an ideal introduction to Judaism for young prospective converts (that's where I got my my first taste of Judaism) and a perfect opportunity for you given that you will also be out of your parents house and more able to do things without needing their explicit permission. Check out the Koach website for information on how "Jewish friendly" various colleges are.

Yes, I'm certainly going where there's a Hillel. Very Happy It's also one of the reasons why I'm definitely going away for college. We have a Hillel at the local university, but it's tiny.

Debbie B. wrote:
Feel free to PM me if you want some feedback about particular colleges---I know about many of them because I have a lot of friends with college-age kids and my own daughter is applying this year too.

Ahh, thank you!!! Very Happy
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:55 am

Interesting posts!

Great advice and openess.

I would say, not to go against Debbie B who has given great advice, that you should be 100% honest with your parents. Don't make it seem like you are going to visit the college and then might stroll on over to Limmud.

Go the opposite way. Tell them you are thinking about going to the Limmud event and while you are there, you thought it would be a good idea to visit the college as well.

Since you really aren't hiding your interest in Judaism and your family sees and knows about it, just tell them the truth.

To me, their reaction will be your decision.

Of course, this is just my 2 cents. You should listen to what others have to say (like Debbie B) and come to a conclusion that you see fit.

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esf

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:43 pm

Why not tell your parents what Limmud is, and ask if they'd mind if you went? If they're not comfortable, I'd just bide your time; you'll be off to college soon enough and have a lot more freedom.

I can see some similarities in your story and mine, and for what its worth, even though I've been passionate about Judaism since I was about 18, it never felt like the right time/place to formally begin the conversion process until a few years ago.. over 6 years after I first went to a seder.
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LineyLu

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:55 pm

Thanks, everyone! I'm going to mull this over some more---I still have a month to register. I'm ordering a Hebrew book off Amazon tomorrow -- I'll see how the parents react to that and judge accordingly. Laughing I just freaked out when I found out about a Limmud conference an hour away from me. The region of the US in which I live does not have many Jews except for a few large cities.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:22 pm

I am near DC and I wish we had a Limmud here. But there is Limmud Philly and Limmud Boston and Limmud NY that I can think of for next year.

I would love to go!!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:12 pm

I'd love to make it to Limmud Chicago eventually.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:53 pm

@LinneyLu (as well other high school students or their parents):
Here is a link to a webpage with information about 18 of the colleges attended by staff from Ramah (Conservative summer camps):
Ramah College Network
Click on the college name and read not only summaries of the surveys, but actual comments made by the students and plenty of information on "Jewish life on campus"

My daughter recently had a college admissions interview with a recent alumna. Towards the end of the interview when the woman asked her about summer experiences, my daughter mentioned having gone to Camp Ramah several years ago. It turned out that the interviewer had been a counselor at that camp at the same time and even for the same age group, although for a different cabin. Once my daughter mentioned the funny nickname that she had, the woman remembered her! (Just goes to show that although those of us who are not of European descent are sometimes very self-conscious about sticking out in Jewish settings, maybe other Jews notice less than we think. My daughter is half Chinese and looks it, but this woman did not immediately remember her when she mentioned attending the camp even though she was one of only about 20 girls in that age group and there are very few non-white kids at that camp---but it was the humorous nickname that allowed her to remember having met my daughter before.)
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LineyLu

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PostSubject: Re: Limmud -- should I go?   Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:38 pm

Thanks for the info, Debbie! I've actually applied to three of those colleges! Very Happy And that's a really cool story.

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