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Dena

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PostSubject: Always the Convert?   Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:21 pm

Next week my Rabbi is having some of the teenagers at our shul interview 10 members. I think it's a project for them but also they are going to record the interviews and put some of them on the website. I was invited to participate. I did say I could even though I have other things to do that day but...I'm not sure I really want to be involved. They ask several generic questions and end with how you got here (that particular congregation) and ask about your Jewish journey. Obviously I'm a convert and that's the big part of my story. They may post it up on the website for everyone to see it.

The problem is I don't want to be "the convert" ALL the time. I already feel like my particular congregation is really bad about pointing out converts. They do not ask first, they just do it. People are excited about it. I get it. I just don't want to constantly be the girl who converted, who should always be super excited about all things Jewish, blah blah blah. Is that silly? I talked to my husband and he says I should be proud. He thinks I should do the interview.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Sun Apr 22, 2012 6:54 pm

If you don't want to be 'the convert," then don't. Simple as that. Whenever we set apart ourselves as different, and we're different in a positive light, people will always try to use that as a gracious inspirational point. Whether you want to wear that label to that end is up to you, and it certainly isn't a blight whether you want to or not. I would hate having to wear the label - and you might point that out to the people in your congregation. It can be embarrassing to be pointed out.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:20 pm

maculated wrote:
It can be embarrassing to be pointed out.

Yes and I think that is most of my problem. I have never liked attention. I want to just blend into the community like everyone else. It isn't as if I don't want to speak in public though, I don't mind. I do love to talk about Judaism. I'm not really sure how to explain it. You may get what I'm saying without me having to explain it, anyway. I do also feel that people may have certain expectations when they know someone is a convert.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Sun Apr 22, 2012 7:25 pm

I do get it. Oh, do I get it. :)

I mean, you're talking to someone who still has to deal with open hostility about the validity of her Jewishness pretty constantly. My community is pretty cool about converts (actually, a ton of them are, too), but I still have enough raw emotion around the whole drama that I don't need it - I'm Jewish and I'll talk about that openly, too. Just . . . leave it at that, please. :)
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:30 pm

Why not use this opportunity to tell your community exactly what you said here? Why not tell the interviewers, "The thing I want you to take away from this is that I'm a Jew. And given today's climate--when it's so easy to NOT be a Jew--everyone here is a Jew by Choice."
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:27 pm

I just emailed my Rabbi to tell her about my concern. She's out of town right now but I'm fairly certain she'll still be reading her email.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:37 pm

Thought you'd get a kick out of this: I am somewhat "famous" in circles concerning Australian Shepherds. So midnight last night I get a call from an old woman I don't know saying that "so and so" said I was a convert and she was Jewish and there aren't many Jews who compete in herding. She then tried to tell me how you convert and how you don't spell G-d out (which, actually I choose to), and I kept being like, "You know, it's midnight and this isn't so appropriate." And then she said it was 3 am and she was in New York like it was chatting material. Pretty weird.

Always the convert.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:25 pm

That's crazy! I would have thought maybe it was a joke or she had some mental health issues. Did you at least know "so and so"?
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:28 pm

She didn't tell me who "so and so" was - I asked after her and she's just a very .. . needy person. Wanted a friend. Unfortunately I am not the one. Especially when initial boundaries don't mean anything to her. :) But it was funny.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:38 pm

maculated wrote:
She didn't tell me who "so and so" was - I asked after her and she's just a very .. . needy person. Wanted a friend. Unfortunately I am not the one. Especially when initial boundaries don't mean anything to her. :) But it was funny.

That is funny. Maybe she'll find another friend local who also has a strange concept of boundaries Wink and Smile

My Rabbi gave me an option of answering another question that doesn't involve me discussing the fact that I'm a convert so I'll go that route. So now I can answer on what role Judaism plays in my life or why be Jewish in this age? I'm also supposed to have advice for the kids of this generation. Uh...any ideas? scratch
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:40 pm

My big thing is intention. Everybody is so "I'll just do this or this and this" and there's a lack of meaning in the mundane that Judaism brings for me. Blessings before food, counting the Omer, morning prayers. Or, even some of the more minor things like, why kosher slaughter is an extension of the universal Jewish value of being kind to living things . . .
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Always the Convert?   Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:54 pm

Quote :
I'm also supposed to have advice for the kids of this generation. Uh...any ideas? scratch

I think this is where a convert's experience is ideal, because you express why you love Judaism. You don't have to mention being a convert, but you can point out the things that made you choose Judaism over other options.
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