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Dena

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PostSubject: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 12:41 pm

I was talking to a Rabbi this week about a number of topics. We got on the subject of parents converting to Judaism and their children converting to something else. She said there was a convert at her shul whose son grew up and married a Catholic woman...then he also converted to Catholicism. The woman was very upset and wanted to talk about it. I told her I would feel the same way. The Rabbi seems to think it's a little strange that a convert would be so upset over their child doing the same thing they did. She admits if her daughter (who is adopted and I believe is a child convert) were to choose another religion as an adult she would be devastated and miserable.

So my thought is that she does feel there is a difference between being born Jewish and choosing. The born parent has every right to be devastated but the parent who converted just has a child who is doing the same thing they did.

How would you feel if your child chose to convert to Christianity (or another religion) when they are an adult?
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James

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 1:39 pm

My two youngest are converting with me (or at least shortly after me when the new rabbi is settled), but neither of my oldest two plan to.

I'd be a liar if I said that it didn't tear me up inside. I'm all for them finding their own way in the world, but I desperately want them to find the happiness and peace I've found in Judaism. I think I'll be equally upset if the younger two leave Judaism after they're grown.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 3:03 pm

My situation was similar. My children's conversion was their choice due to their ages. My youngest 2 became Jewish and my oldest did not. I wish they all had chosen to but that was not the case.

But I feel at peace with his choice. I know that he will one day find his place in a spiritual place like I did. He may not find it in Judaism and I accept that. I wish he would but his path will be his path.

My kids were 9,11,14 when I first started my journey and they were 11,13,16 when I converted. Their lives have changed whether they became Jewish or not.

My hope would be that my oldest son would one day see the beauty in Judaism and that my younger children will always want to be Jewish and want to raise Jewish kids.



James wrote:
My two youngest are converting with me (or at least shortly after me when the new rabbi is settled), but neither of my oldest two plan to.

I'd be a liar if I said that it didn't tear me up inside. I'm all for them finding their own way in the world, but I desperately want them to find the happiness and peace I've found in Judaism. I think I'll be equally upset if the younger two leave Judaism after they're grown.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 3:08 pm

I would be devastated if my children chose a religion that views all non believers as lost and headed to hell. I would find it hard to accept my children becoming either Christian or Muslim.

I hope that my Jewish kids want to marry Jews and raise Jewish kids. I have a non Jewish child and I hope that he will eventually find a spiritual way that doesn't see all others as lost.



Dena wrote:
I was talking to a Rabbi this week about a number of topics. We got on the subject of parents converting to Judaism and their children converting to something else. She said there was a convert at her shul whose son grew up and married a Catholic woman...then he also converted to Catholicism. The woman was very upset and wanted to talk about it. I told her I would feel the same way. The Rabbi seems to think it's a little strange that a convert would be so upset over their child doing the same thing they did. She admits if her daughter (who is adopted and I believe is a child convert) were to choose another religion as an adult she would be devastated and miserable.

So my thought is that she does feel there is a difference between being born Jewish and choosing. The born parent has every right to be devastated but the parent who converted just has a child who is doing the same thing they did.

How would you feel if your child chose to convert to Christianity (or another religion) when they are an adult?
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 3:21 pm

I know that God has called me to be a Jew, so if I had a child who truly felt called by God to be something else, I'd have to accept that. (However, converting in order to marry or just because they want to be on the bandwagon or are brainwashed would not be acceptable.)

That being said, I sometimes wish my husband would get a call so we could participate together.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 5:34 pm

Dena wrote:
The Rabbi seems to think it's a little strange that a convert would be so upset over their child doing the same thing they did. She admits if her daughter (who is adopted and I believe is a child convert) were to choose another religion as an adult she would be devastated and miserable.

So my thought is that she does feel there is a difference between being born Jewish and choosing. The born parent has every right to be devastated but the parent who converted just has a child who is doing the same thing they did.

How would you feel if your child chose to convert to Christianity (or another religion) when they are an adult?

The attitude of the rabbi really bothers me and I feel it shows a slight bias against those of us who didn't have the luck of being born into the religion we ultimately felt was right for us. I think that she feels that converts are either somewhat "disloyal" to the religion they were raised in or that we are by definition less than ideal role models for our children since we chose a different religion as adults. I hope the woman whose son converted to Catholicism was able to find another rabbi or friend who was more empathetic and sympathetic. I am certain that my sponsoring rabbi would totally understand why most converts would be upset at that happening.

I would point out to the rabbi that given how much harder it was for most of us to chose Judaism compared to being born as Jews, it means that we have thought hard and really feel that it is the right religion for us, so why wouldn't we want that for our children as well? Converts put the same amount of effort, and often much more effort, into raising their children as Jews, so of course they are disappointed if the child chooses a different religion.

The rabbi is perhaps thinking that converts should have more reason to be sympathetic if their child leaves Judaism, and I would agree with that. Certainly, it would be hypocritical of them to repeat any of the hurtful reactions that they may have experience from their own parents or relatives or friends. Converts should know better than most people that when children choose something different from what their parents want, it does not mean a rejection of their parents.

Nevertheless, if my children should convert to another religion or even "marry out", I would certainly cry even as I would try hard to accept those choices because adult children have the right to make choices for themselves.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 08, 2012 6:36 pm

Debbie B. wrote:


The attitude of the rabbi really bothers me and I feel it shows a slight bias against those of us who didn't have the luck of being born into the religion we ultimately felt was right for us. I think that she feels that converts are either somewhat "disloyal" to the religion they were raised in or that we are by definition less than ideal role models for our children since we chose a different religion as adults. I hope the woman whose son converted to Catholicism was able to find another rabbi or friend who was more empathetic and sympathetic. I am certain that my sponsoring rabbi would totally understand why most converts would be upset at that happening.

She is a really sweet woman but her attitude on this particular topic bothers me too. I was actually a little surprised. She also told me if her child decided to say, become a Buddhist as an adult she wouldn't consider her Jewish at all. I disagree. I think the child is still Jewish. She feels her role in life is to raise a Jewish child and spread Judaism. She is not a congregational Rabbi so the woman above would have had opportunity to seek out other support. I know their Rabbi and I don't think he would share her view.



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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Wed May 09, 2012 6:19 pm

That rabbi places a lot of weight on the ancestry part of Judaism. But if someone who is not born Jewish has some kind of reduced tie to Judaism, even if brought up all their lives as a Jew as in the case of an adopted child, then can that person also not transmit that born-Jewish essence to any children born after their conversion? What about a child born to two converts? (I know just such a child. He has attended Jewish day school since kindergarten---which he did in Israel---and he is now at a Conservative Jewish high school. He recently posted a sad story that worried him about a college student who was brought up Orthodox, but has been treated insensitively by other Jews since finding out that her mother's two conversions---one Reform and another Conservative---are not "good enough" for them, so they consider her only a "safek" (in doubt) Jew and don't think she can lead a bracha any more and some one even asked her to carry stuff for them on Shabbat as a "Shabbos goy"!) And what about the whole maternal line descendants of a convert? Are none of them "true Jews"?

So if converts don't get that special Jewish essence by converting how can they pass that down to their descendants? There is unfortunately ample Talmudic precedent for considering descendants of converts (not even just the converts themselves) to be of "tainted ancestry". I would hope that this line of thinking would make any Jew uncomfortable. And since it is really just the natural extension of the idea that converts lack something that born Jews have, I think it should call into question that very idea in the first place.

I sure hope this woman's lack of expectations for her adopted child are never perceived that way by the child. It could be a sad self-fulfilling prophesy if the child feels like she is not really expected to want to stay Jewish.

Also, I think she is somewhat incorrect in her thinking that the child was not Jewish if she converts to a different religion as an adult (assuming that she was indeed converted as a child). A child-convert has a one-time right to reject the conversion upon reaching bar/bat mitzvah age. After that, just like any convert, they are Jews for life regardless of what they do. Converts who convert to yet another religion or "revert" to their old religion are simply apostate Jews. (Well, I suppose the revocation of conversion by right wing rabbis in Israel goes against that, but it actually goes completely against what is written in the Talmud about converts.)
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Wed May 09, 2012 9:36 pm

Debbie B. wrote:


I sure hope this woman's lack of expectations for her adopted child are never perceived that way by the child. It could be a sad self-fulfilling prophesy if the child feels like she is not really expected to want to stay Jewish.

I must have been confusing. She does expect her child to continue in Judaism. She said she would be devastated and miserable if she did not. She would feel like a failure because her main role in life is to raise a Jewish child.

Debbie B. wrote:
Converts who convert to yet another religion or "revert" to their old religion are simply apostate Jews. (Well, I suppose the revocation of conversion by right wing rabbis in Israel goes against that, but it actually goes completely against what is written in the Talmud about converts.)

Yeah, that is why is surprised me that she actually said her daughter decided to be a Buddhist she wouldn't consider her Jewish anymore.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Wed May 09, 2012 10:27 pm

Dena wrote:
Debbie B. wrote:


I sure hope this woman's lack of expectations for her adopted child are never perceived that way by the child. It could be a sad self-fulfilling prophesy if the child feels like she is not really expected to want to stay Jewish.

I must have been confusing. She does expect her child to continue in Judaism. She said she would be devastated and miserable if she did not. She would feel like a failure because her main role in life is to raise a Jewish child.

Maybe I read too much into the fact that she would not consider her child to be Jewish at all if she were to convert to another religion as an adult. I assume that she would feel differently if she had adopted a child whom she knew to be born to a Jewish mother. But maybe not. It just seemed that if she would say that they child was no longer Jewish if she converted out, that she kind of thinks that the tie to Judaism is not as strong for someone not born into it, so that the tie is simply gone as soon as an action to cut it occurs. It still bothers me if she thinks her daughter is different from a born Jew because she lacks the biological connection to a Jewish mother.

I now also realize that she was commenting on the fact that she didn't think the convert had a right to feel sad if her son converted to Catholicism, not that it was somehow more to be expected that the child of a convert would convert out.

But I also do still think it is very insensitive to expect that either a convert shouldn't feel the same or that she isn't entitled to feel the same just because she is a convert. It still shows a troubling attitude that converts are not the same as born Jews. It sounds like she is not involved in conversions and I think she certainly should not be.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Wed May 09, 2012 11:44 pm

Debbie B. wrote:

Maybe I read too much into the fact that she would not consider her child to be Jewish at all if she were to convert to another religion as an adult. I assume that she would feel differently if she had adopted a child whom she knew to be born to a Jewish mother. But maybe not.

Yeah, I don't know. I didn't want to ask because then I would be showing my assumption that her daughter is a convert. She adopted her as a baby from an orphanage in China.

Debbie B. wrote:
It just seemed that if she would say that they child was no longer Jewish if she converted out, that she kind of thinks that the tie to Judaism is not as strong for someone not born into it, so that the tie is simply gone as soon as an action to cut it occurs. It still bothers me if she thinks her daughter is different from a born Jew because she lacks the biological connection to a Jewish mother.

Debbie B. wrote:
But I also do still think it is very insensitive to expect that either a convert shouldn't feel the same or that she isn't entitled to feel the same just because she is a convert. It still shows a troubling attitude that converts are not the same as born Jews. It sounds like she is not involved in conversions and I think she certainly should not be.

I agree. And as far as I know she's never had a congregation and may never have worked with a convert. A Rabbi who has a lot of experience in that area would probably have a different perspective.


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ilovetchotchkes

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Mon May 28, 2012 12:37 pm

I know this sounds AWFUL but it depends on which religion. Or lack thereof. If my kid decided he was an atheist or Buddhist? It'd be slightly upsetting but I'd be furious if he decided to become some sort of Southern Baptist flavor that taught his own parents were going to hell.

Although i'll probably eat my words at this, I think my 2 year old son is a better Jew than I am. Forever nagging me to put his kippah on ("HAT MAMA! HAT!" ), if we're not at shul on a friday night, I swear he's got some internal Jewish clock that tells him when its time to light candles, because its creepy how he'll point to the window and my candle sticks at 20 minutes to sunset and yell "NOW! CANDLES!" :)
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: If your child converts to another religion   Tue May 29, 2012 12:09 am

ilovetchotchkes wrote:
I know this sounds AWFUL but it depends on which religion. Or lack thereof. If my kid decided he was an atheist or Buddhist? It'd be slightly upsetting but I'd be furious if he decided to become some sort of Southern Baptist flavor that taught his own parents were going to hell.

Yeah, I definitely see a difference there too.
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