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aharon

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Posts : 15
Join date : 2012-10-22

PostSubject: My turn to say hello   Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:25 am

Hi everybody!

I've been a lurker to this site for a while now, decided it was about time I joined the discussions.

Call me Aharon, I'm a 42 year old from New Zealand. I've been raised as a Catholic, however our family has a Jewish connection. Mention of this was discouraged while I was growing up.

From what I can gather my ancestors arrived in the 1880's from what was then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They assimilated quickly into everyday life to the point that now 130 years later no one in my family has any knowledge or interest in this amazing heritage. Well, no one except me that is. It's been near on impossible trying to get information on this mysterious family who settled as far away from their homeland as you can get. But it hasn't stopped me trying.

In an attempt to get answers about my heritage about 10 years ago I started looking into the Jewish history of my country. Quickly I realised although small in number these immigrants played a huge part in building this land. How often have we heard this- from the US to Argentina, if you didn't know already you can add New Zealand to this list! From politicians, explorers, merchants and just about everything in between. The more I read, the more I was fascinated by this 'group', especially considering I had a connection to them.

Two years ago it struck me almost like a thunder bolt, and this is the bit I can't quite find the words for. I pretty much came to the realisation that although I hadn't had the upbringing I felt Jewish. I was Jewish. With the upmost respect to those that raised me, that environment felt incongruous to what felt comfortable to me. Not only did I feel Jewish I wanted to make this an integral part of my life. I had no qualms coming to that conclusion. (I'm sure you know exactly where I'm coming from there.)

In fact it felt completely natural- my given name is a relatively common Jewish one- and our family has retained the German surname. On paper at least I have grown up being 'mistaken' for being a Jew.

As you know this is such a deeply personal decision to make. Also one that no-one takes lightly. I've spent the last two years really asking myself if this is what I want. That if I do this there is no going back. I think I've tried to scare myself out of doing this as 'it would just be easier' to maintain the status quo. But in all honesty, I was already trying to get my head around Hebrew, feeling excited about rosh hashanah, trying to keep kosher. It was a no brainer.

I've done this without actually making any big announcements, in fact my family do not yet know about my decision. Well you know, not my decision- the choice was already made for me lol. I have discussed this with some close friends and they are really supportive, in fact asking me many questions that I don't yet feel able to answer properly.

The next step for me was to introduce myself to a group of people who have an understanding of where I am at- and that's you!
I look forward to using this site as place to learn, grow, bounce ideas, get feedback. I'd like to think that I might add something to the mix here and hope that you might gain something from me joining this forum.

Toda raba,

Aharon
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Mychal

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Posts : 277
Join date : 2011-09-23
Location : Tennessee

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:44 am

Welcome!

I can understand being afraid to tell your family. My mother and her grandmother are evangelical, fundamentalist Christians. My mother has spoken in tongues before. So imagine trying to tell her that I don't believe in Jesus and want to become a Jew!

On the whole, it didn't go too bad. She cried over the phone some, then she's sort of pretended I didn't say it. I don't bring it up and neither does she; we're both content to let her live in denial.

I haven't told my maternal grandmother. And, in all honesty, I don't see a need to bring it up and upset her. I told my dad and his mother, and they looked stunned, but the last time I visited them, they were talking about it and joking, so it doesn't seem to be a big deal.

A lot of converts (maybe even most) have Jews in their family tree. I met a girl at my previous synagogue who had a Jewish grandmother or great-grandmother. Like you, she had been given a Biblical name (Rebecca), so it only seemed appropriate that she chose to convert.

Apparently I'm not the only person who has noticed that many converts come from Jewish lines that have intermarried and assimilated. The Kabbalists say that no Jewish souls are ever lost, and some even say that some Jewish souls will reincarnate into their Gentile descendants in order to bring at least one branch of the family back into Judaism.
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Dena

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

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:29 pm

Welcome to the forum, Aharon! We're glad to have you here.
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searchinmyroots

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

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:59 am

Welcome Aharon!

That is a very inspiring introduction. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Feel free to share your thoughts, ask questions and learn. There are many people here from many different backgrounds and many different paths. It may seem confusing at times but it is up to you to find your path, the one that will help you grow in Judaism and absorb all of the great wisdom it offers.

The road is not always a smooth one, so stay focused and strong in your beliefs.

The rewards will change your life.
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aharon

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Posts : 15
Join date : 2012-10-22

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Tue Nov 20, 2012 7:29 pm

Thank you everyone for your kind welcomes. It means alot.

Have been quite busy the last couple of weeks and unfortunately havent had the time to devote to this site as I had hoped. But it has been nice to log on and see your responses. Also great to see another couple of newbies too!
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saraanne



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Join date : 2012-11-16

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:35 am

Hello Aharon! My name's Sara, I'm also new here. I just thought I'd say hi because I am from Sydney! Hope everything goes well with you
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aharon

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Join date : 2012-10-22

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:12 am

Hi Sara,

G'day there mate. Very Happy Great to see someone else from Down Under! Just the one post so far? It would be good if you could tell us your backstory too.

hint hint.

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aharon

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Join date : 2012-10-22

PostSubject: Re: My turn to say hello   Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:56 am

I just wanted to take the time to update on where I am with this journey. To be honest I think I'm also writing this for my own benefit- just to help clarify to myself where I am.

I have to say I'm just comfortable with the process, it really is a natural fit. Unfortunately I must admit though my contact with Jews ( I was about to type other Jews Laughing ) is limited to being almost non existant so I have noone to bounce off right now. This is mainly for two reasons, the city I live in, Christhcurch, was formed as an Anglican settlement. Traditionally anybody non-Anglican wasn't really welcome. Of course this is no longer the case and there are people from all corners of the globe here now, but historically most Jews arriving in New Zealand went to other cities. So therefore out of a population of 400,000 our town is home to only about 700 Jews.

The second reason is that just on two years ago our city was devastated by a series of strong earthquakes and aftershocks taking many lives. Although things are improving it's still fair to say things are still pretty 'messy'. For want of a better word the local Jewish community is in lockdown mode. The synagogue was severely damaged (currently in ruins) and many families have left. The local kosher cafe and the chabad house were destroyed so there's no longer a visual presence in the town either. I don't want to be the guy that turns up at someones house and says, 'Hi, I know you are still in emergency mode but can I bother you and ask lots of difficult theological questions?'

I recently had to travel for work to our largest city Auckland. While there I made time out to have a meal at a local kosher eatery. I've always felt at home in that environment. On this occasion being so starved for Jewish company I would excitedly look up each time the door opened to see who would walk in and wonder about their lives. Oh wow a young South African family- this babushka seems a bit stern I definately wont make eye contact with her- oh that guys kippah rocks! It was great to talk to people and have them assume I was possibly Jewish. Of course this meant I had to be on my best behaviour and try to not do anything that might confuse or offend haha. I also took time out to visit the countries original Jewish cemetary, which had the week before been desecrated with graffiti. Thankfully that is an unheard of occurance and caused great distress throughout the country.

I know to most people these events; getting a bagel or laying a pebble at a headstone, might seem small, possibly even trite. Culturally for me they are huge events. As I'm not able to openly plan or at least discuss my journey with a rabbi, doing small things like this is me quietly cementing my foundation into a fully Jewish life.

I'm not too sure where to from here exactly. I keep looking to see if there's any movement in the local community, unfortunately it seems as though we will not be getting a rabbi in town any time soon. There's no question about it, I'm staying the course, my wish is though that there are people locally that I can question or bounce ideas off.

I haven't reviewed or edited what I've just written, it's really just my brain going -blaaahhhh- so I hope it doesn't come across as negative ramblings. I have to reaffirm I'm really excited about this process and ALL that will transpire, both good AND bad; I know It's going to bring interesting people into my life. There'll also come a time (hopefully soon) when I set foot in Israel. I'll discover more fantastic foods to introduce into the family menu. But oh my goodness all that study I'm going to have to do- oy vey! tongue
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