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Mychal

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PostSubject: Bad News for Me   Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:46 pm

I got a shock at Kol Nidre: my rabbi is leaving the end of next week. The synagogue didn't renew his contract (which I assume runs out at the end of the year), and he decided to take a sabbatical for the rest of the year.

Not being a member or on any mailing lists, I hadn't heard this before he mentioned it at service and I confirmed it with a friend. He, like me, hasn't gotten converted yet.

For those of you who don't remember, I switched to this synagogue around December last year because, after waiting on the rabbis at my previous shul for a year, I was told they didn't know when they could get around to converting me and maybe I should consider going to another synagogue.

All the way home from service, I couldn't help but think I'm going to be one of those people in the horror stories: those who go through multiple rabbis, have to start the process over from scratch over and over again, and end up taking nearly a decade to get converted.

There were two stories in the siddur on Yom Kippur (in the Memorial Service section)--one a last letter from a resistance fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto and another one a story set in Inquisitorial Spain--and both were summed up as a sort of defiant rant to God. "You've thrown everything at me You could. You've taken everything away that can be taken away. But, despite all of that, You will never make me deny being a Jew. Sh'ma Yisrael...."

I'm kind of there. Yesterday evening, towards the end of service, I thought, "I have every reason not to continue. But even God isn't going to stop me from being a Jew at this point. It's no longer an option. I'm a Jew on the inside; I WILL be one on the outside." Then I went up to the bima and kissed the Torah.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:32 pm

Mychal wrote:
I got a shock at Kol Nidre: my rabbi is leaving the end of next week. The synagogue didn't renew his contract (which I assume runs out at the end of the year), and he decided to take a sabbatical for the rest of the year.

Not being a member or on any mailing lists, I hadn't heard this before he mentioned it at service and I confirmed it with a friend. He, like me, hasn't gotten converted yet.

For those of you who don't remember, I switched to this synagogue around December last year because, after waiting on the rabbis at my previous shul for a year, I was told they didn't know when they could get around to converting me and maybe I should consider going to another synagogue.

All the way home from service, I couldn't help but think I'm going to be one of those people in the horror stories: those who go through multiple rabbis, have to start the process over from scratch over and over again, and end up taking nearly a decade to get converted.

There were two stories in the siddur on Yom Kippur (in the Memorial Service section)--one a last letter from a resistance fighter in the Warsaw Ghetto and another one a story set in Inquisitorial Spain--and both were summed up as a sort of defiant rant to God. "You've thrown everything at me You could. You've taken everything away that can be taken away. But, despite all of that, You will never make me deny being a Jew. Sh'ma Yisrael...."

I'm kind of there. Yesterday evening, towards the end of service, I thought, "I have every reason not to continue. But even God isn't going to stop me from being a Jew at this point. It's no longer an option. I'm a Jew on the inside; I WILL be one on the outside." Then I went up to the bima and kissed the Torah.

Wow I am sorry about your news. Have they hired a new Rabbi? I am surprised it is happening so fast. When they hired a Rabbi at my shul they took a long time to find the right fit and we all knew that there was going to be an out going Rabbi before he left.

But stick with it and I know that it will happen.

Can you get on the mailing list for the shul news letter? I know that I got on the mailing list before I was Jewish or a member of the shul.

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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:21 pm

As far as I know, they haven't even begun looking for a new rabbi. I don't know when his contract actually ended, but his notice that he was going to leave before it was over (to go on sabbatical) was short notice. At this point, I don't think we even have an interim rabbi lined up. (Someone told me before the current rabbi came, they had an interim, so either they take their time looking for one, or they don't start looking until after the old rabbi has left.)

I'm going to see if my friend wants to study with me after service on Saturdays. Maybe instead of losing time waiting around for someone else, we can work on progressing ourselves together. (We can always ask our other friend what assignments the rabbi gave him.) That way, when we finally get another rabbi lined up, maybe we won't have to wait another year/start all over again.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:49 pm

Have you talked to the rabbi about your situation?

He might be able to arraign another local rabbi to work with you without any lost time.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:16 pm

Yeah, have you talked to him? In all honesty I don't see why he even has to be the working Rabbi at the congregation to help you convert. You've started the process and you could just continue. I say definitely talk to him. Don't assume you have to start over again. That really shouldn't be the case.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:52 pm

Actually, Dena, I got an e-mail from him the other day. He is going to be freelancing as a rabbi, including doing conversions.

For nearly $1200.

A tenth of that price would be a stretch for our budget, especially as I'd have to spend an extra $10 in gas to make an extra trip to the city every week.

I don't think my friend will be able to afford that much either, although he has a much better job. I think I'm going to propose to him that we study together and help one another out. Then, by the time we get another rabbi, maybe we won't have so much to do. It won't be like we lost a lot of time sitting around and waiting.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:44 pm

Mychal wrote:
Actually, Dena, I got an e-mail from him the other day. He is going to be freelancing as a rabbi, including doing conversions.

For nearly $1200.

Oh. Well..hmm. Are you still going to try to talk to him? Maybe you could work out something? That seems a bit steep. Does he spend a lot of time with the convert? None of the Rabbis I had the chance to choose to work with spent a lot of time with their converts. It would have been ridiculous for them to charge $1200 to go through the process but perhaps he's much more one on one. Still...that seems...unfair.

Mychal wrote:
A tenth of that price would be a stretch for our budget, especially as I'd have to spend an extra $10 in gas to make an extra trip to the city every week.

Okay, does that he would want to meet every week?

Mychal wrote:
I don't think my friend will be able to afford that much either, although he has a much better job. I think I'm going to propose to him that we study together and help one another out. Then, by the time we get another rabbi, maybe we won't have so much to do. It won't be like we lost a lot of time sitting around and waiting.

I'm sure the next Rabbi will be understanding that you've been in this process for a while and really do not need to start all over again. Your Jewish life and readiness does not revolve around the Rabbi. Know what I mean?
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:48 pm

The rabbi's classes are an hour and a half each week for 8 weeks (these are joint sessions with anyone else that pays). Then, as part of the conversion process, there are three 45 minute private sessions, plus the beit din and mikvah.

As the congregational rabbi, he and I met about 45 minutes once a month and normally the process takes about a year.

I'm just going to let things happen as they will. Everything happens for a purpose--this too.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:58 pm

Mychal wrote:


I'm just going to let things happen as they will. Everything happens for a purpose--this too.

Well, okay. I'm sure it will eventually work out.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:06 pm

That's awful. I know that feeling all too well. You're incredibly patient.

Have you thought of doing it through an online program? I paid about half what you're quoting, but in the end with plane flights and everything, it did cost that, if not more, but if you want something, sometimes that's what you've got to do. And in Junadism, money is absolutely a true symbol of spiritual sacrifice . . .

Either way, what will be, will be. :) <3
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:42 pm

Unfortunately, we have no money to sacrifice.

Our yard hasn't been mowed in 2 years because we have no money to fix our lawn mower. We can't borrow someone else's because we can't afford to register our truck or fix the power steering leak.

We haven't had central heating in our house in going on 5 years (we use space heaters) and our A/C went out this summer (we have two window units).

Our kitchen sink clogged up and we can't snake it. It really needs to be replumbed, because the line wasn't done right in the first place, but we don't have money for a plumber. So for months, we have lived with a bucket under the sink to catch the water, and we throw the dirty water out the back door (I think of it as doing dishes Laura Ingalls style).

All of our vehicles are 15 years old and mine's having problems (I think--and hope--it's just that the fuel filter is clogged, because that's relatively cheap to replace; if it's the transmission slipping, we're hosed because we can't afford to fix that or replace it).

I can't remember the last time I bought new clothes. Everything in my closet either came from a thrift store, is a hand-me-down from my mother or stepmother, or I made it myself.

Before the Recession, we were DINKs and made about $70,000/yr combined. We had a horse. We vacationed for two weeks in London and Scotland. We had functioning plumbing. We had savings accounts and stocks and retirement plans and even a horde of canned goods (because my husband is a bit of prepper). We both had good health insurance and life/disability insurance. Going on 5 years later, everything's gone but a couple hundred in savings, a couple dozen cans of food, one (reduced) retirement plan, and one job (and I make 40% less now than I used to).

Thank God, but I took advantage of the good times and paid off all my debt--including student loans--years ahead of schedule. All we have between us is a modest mortgage. But it's getting to the point that I'm starting to have fantasies about walking away from that. We could rent a place for about $200 less per month. We could save about $100 a month on the electric bill. Plus we wouldn't have to pay to fix anything when it breaks. If we moved into the town where I work, that would save about $120 a month in gas. My husband is the only one on the mortgage, so only his credit would be ruined; we'd still have my good credit if we needed it in the future. And, as I work for a bankruptcy attorney, it'd only cost us the filing fee to take care of the foreclosure in BK.

Long sob story short, do you see why I cry when I'm confronted with a conversion bill of $1200? It'd be easier to cough up a kidney or a bit of a liver than come up with $1200. If we had $1200 we wouldn't be living like the Clampetts' poor relations.

It's like my husband said the other night, "You're too poor to be a Jew."
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Thu Oct 04, 2012 2:47 pm

Absolutely I do. And it seems to me that if you tell this to your rabbi, he may just listen.

I'm sorry you're in that position. I'm not that well off myself, so I want you to know that I wasn't flippantly telling you what I was assuming you were made of money.
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:04 pm

Mychal wrote:
Unfortunately, we have no money to sacrifice.

Our yard hasn't been mowed in 2 years because we have no money to fix our lawn mower. We can't borrow someone else's because we can't afford to register our truck or fix the power steering leak.

We haven't had central heating in our house in going on 5 years (we use space heaters) and our A/C went out this summer (we have two window units).

Our kitchen sink clogged up and we can't snake it. It really needs to be replumbed, because the line wasn't done right in the first place, but we don't have money for a plumber. So for months, we have lived with a bucket under the sink to catch the water, and we throw the dirty water out the back door (I think of it as doing dishes Laura Ingalls style).

All of our vehicles are 15 years old and mine's having problems (I think--and hope--it's just that the fuel filter is clogged, because that's relatively cheap to replace; if it's the transmission slipping, we're hosed because we can't afford to fix that or replace it).

I can't remember the last time I bought new clothes. Everything in my closet either came from a thrift store, is a hand-me-down from my mother or stepmother, or I made it myself.

Before the Recession, we were DINKs and made about $70,000/yr combined. We had a horse. We vacationed for two weeks in London and Scotland. We had functioning plumbing. We had savings accounts and stocks and retirement plans and even a horde of canned goods (because my husband is a bit of prepper). We both had good health insurance and life/disability insurance. Going on 5 years later, everything's gone but a couple hundred in savings, a couple dozen cans of food, one (reduced) retirement plan, and one job (and I make 40% less now than I used to).

Thank God, but I took advantage of the good times and paid off all my debt--including student loans--years ahead of schedule. All we have between us is a modest mortgage. But it's getting to the point that I'm starting to have fantasies about walking away from that. We could rent a place for about $200 less per month. We could save about $100 a month on the electric bill. Plus we wouldn't have to pay to fix anything when it breaks. If we moved into the town where I work, that would save about $120 a month in gas. My husband is the only one on the mortgage, so only his credit would be ruined; we'd still have my good credit if we needed it in the future. And, as I work for a bankruptcy attorney, it'd only cost us the filing fee to take care of the foreclosure in BK.

Long sob story short, do you see why I cry when I'm confronted with a conversion bill of $1200? It'd be easier to cough up a kidney or a bit of a liver than come up with $1200. If we had $1200 we wouldn't be living like the Clampetts' poor relations.

It's like my husband said the other night, "You're too poor to be a Jew."


I so get all what you are saying! I worked with a Rabbi who is not affiliated with a movement and she did not charge me anything in fact the Rabbis on my Beit Din also did not charge me anything.

I took Hebrew classes through my local synagogue and a 6 month introduction to Judaism class and met with my Rabbi monthly.

She believes that those who are sincerely converting should not pay. I did make a donation to her foundation after it was all finished and to the Conservative Synagogue for the mikveh.

Have you looked into an unaffiliated rabbi?
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:57 pm

My rabbi e-mailed me this morning to ask if I had gotten the e-mail about the class and to say something if finances were a problem.

So, I basically told him what I said here, but that I knew he was between jobs and understood he couldn't work for a pittance.

He e-mailed me back and told me that he had made a commitment to me and really wanted to see it through, so pay what I can or not worry about it--just come to class.

I'm trying not to cry at work right now. cheers
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:10 pm

That's awesome to hear Mychal!
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tamar

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:27 pm

That is wonderful!!

Mychal wrote:
My rabbi e-mailed me this morning to ask if I had gotten the e-mail about the class and to say something if finances were a problem.

So, I basically told him what I said here, but that I knew he was between jobs and understood he couldn't work for a pittance.

He e-mailed me back and told me that he had made a commitment to me and really wanted to see it through, so pay what I can or not worry about it--just come to class.

I'm trying not to cry at work right now. cheers
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:41 pm

Mazal tov! I knew it would work out!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:35 pm

I had a feeling something would work out for you!!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:11 pm

I'm so glad it worked out favourably for you! It would be horrible if economics were the sole reason you couldn't become Jewish.
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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:08 pm

Glad things are working out Mychal!

Maybe we should change the title of the thread now to "Bad news turns to good news for me!"
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bad News for Me   Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:12 pm

Or just "Not bad news; everything back to normal."

Actually, this will probably speed up my process a little, because before, I had to make an appointment to see the rabbi about once a month (and I slacked off over the summer, while I was working on getting my book published). Now the classes will be every week over the course of two months, plus three private meetings with the rabbi.

I like having a schedule!

I think I'm going to make a tallit for the rabbi. I have plenty of fabric, so the question is how to decorate it? I can do embroidery, bead embroidery, fabric painting, hand and machine sewing, etc.
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