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newjew



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PostSubject: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:47 pm

Hi,

I am very interested in converting to Reconstructionist Judiasm, but I cannot accept Zionism. The State of Isrsel has brought great harm to the Palestinian people, and I do not believe that there should be any form of a religious state, Jew, Muslim, Christian,. Buddhist, whatever. IMO all states should be secular and all people free to practice what they choose, if they choose to have any religion at all. Finally, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict cannot be solved with a two-state solution, IMO, but how they set up a single state is their business because they live there, as long as there are equal rights for all.

I am fully aware that Reconstructionist Judiasm is a Zionist movement. But the Jews that speciifcally identify as anti-Zionist Jews are mostly Ultra-Orthodox and as a woman, I want a branch of Judiasm that sees women equal as men, I also am in line with the Reconstructionist idea that god is not a supernatural force, so that is out.

Please, no hateful responses from those who support Zionism, and I don't want to argue about Palestine at all, I just want to know if my position will lead a Reconstructionist Rabbi to reject me for not supporting the State of Israel. I don't want to waste his time, nor mine, thanks.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Thu Nov 22, 2012 1:58 pm

I really have no idea. You would have to ask. I personally have a very strong opinion on this topic. I do not think a Rabbi should convert a person who doesn't feel the state of Israel should exist.

That being said, I haven't dealt with this particular issue as it pertains to conversion. It may not be a problem. I would think it would defend on each individual Rabbi. Have you spoken with anyone yet? Reconstructionism is rather small so it may be that you only have one or two Rabbis in your town (if any). Have you also considered the Reform movement?
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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Thu Nov 22, 2012 2:02 pm

This topic has been moved to a more appropriate section of the forum since the OP wishes to discuss conversion.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:31 pm

Your best bet is most likely to contact a Reconstructionist rabbi in your area about it.
I'm not sure if any of our members identify as reconstructionist.
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newjew



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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:47 pm

Dena, thank you for your reply and I truly do appreciate the respectful manner in which you replied to me despite your strong feelings on this matter. Very Happy

I talked to my husband, born a modern Orthodox Jew, now secular, and he thinks that it won't be a problem because there are Jews active in shuls who feel the way that I do and that views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict run the gamut in the liberal branches of Judiasm. He also feels that a Rabbi will not compel anyone interested in Judiasm to adopt a political ideology (Herzl's Modern Political Zionism). I guess I'll have to just wait and find when I talk to the Rabbi.

I am passing along a few items that I have found on the topic on-line for those who may be interested, regardless of personal opinion on the matter. Thanks again:

http://zionism-israel.com/Converting_to_Judaism.htm

Judaism and Zionism

"We believe that Israel and Zionism hold a central place in Judaism. Zion and the holy land certainly hold a central place in the Jewish faith and prayers. However, it is not necessary to be a Jew to support Israel or the right of the Jews for a state, and support for Israel or Zionism is not a requirement for conversion to Judaism."


Jewish Voice for Peace has Reconstructionist Rabbis on their Rabbinical Council: http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/

http://mondoweiss.net/2012/09/wrestling-in-the-daylight-a-rabbis-path-to-palestinian-solidarity.html





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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Fri Nov 23, 2012 4:10 am

newjew wrote:

I talked to my husband, born a modern Orthodox Jew, now secular, and he thinks that it won't be a problem because there are Jews active in shuls who feel the way that I do and that views on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict run the gamut in the liberal branches of Judiasm.

While that is true, it's different to voice your opinion on the topic before or during conversion then to voice your opinion as a Jew. You'll just have to see what the Rabbi says about it. Will you be speaking with him/her soon?
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usuario



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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Sat Nov 24, 2012 11:34 pm

To the OP: I think it would be best to keep your opinions on Zionism from the converting rabbis. If they do ask, you could move the conversation to the issue to a cultural one, e.g. about how you think Israelis are mostly great people.

I think that in the organized Jewish establishment, there is a major conflation of Zionism (and specifically support of the State of Israel) with Judaism. You can love the Jewish people without loving the State of Israel, because the State of Israel is a government composed of a couple of politicians and thus can make mistakes that can sometimes help people but sometimes lead to innocent people dying. I don't think that the fact that Israel is the only "Jewish state" should make it immune to criticism and that criticism of Israel is necessarily anti-Semitic, but I feel like my opinion is a minority among all the Jewish movements. You bring up the fact that a lot of born Jews criticize Israel but you have to remember that Jews-by-choice are judged differently: they could take your criticism of Israel as evidence that you do not support other Jews and do not view yourself as part of the Jewish family and so they might refuse to convert you.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:48 am

usuario wrote:
To the OP: I think it would be best to keep your opinions on Zionism from the converting rabbis. If they do ask, you could move the conversation to the issue to a cultural one, e.g. about how you think Israelis are mostly great people.

The OP should be honest about her feelings. If she does tries to skirt around the issue I would expect her Rabbi would notice.
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newjew



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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:57 pm

1.) I would never, ever try to skirt the issue, or any issue. I will be up front about it. However, I am converting for personal reasons that have nothing to all whatsoever to do with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

2.) "You bring up the fact that a lot of born Jews criticize Israel but you have to remember that Jews-by-choice are judged differently: they could take your criticism of Israel as evidence that you do not support other Jews and do not view yourself as part of the Jewish family and so they might refuse to convert you."

Most of the Jewish family do not reside in Israel, and if a Rabbi saw my position in this light, I would not want him/her to convert me, I would go elsewhere.

Judiasm is a 5,000 year old religion. Herzl's Zionism is a 100 year old political ideology. Israel is a 64 year old state. I am interested in the religion.

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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:52 pm

newjew wrote:
I am interested in the religion.


Are you interested in peoplehood because I believe that is a large part of conversion. I myself believe it comes before religion but I know many would disagree. If you see it solely as a religion then you might be missing out. That doesn't mean you can't convert (many do so for that reason), I just think you might miss out on part of what makes it so meaningful.

Usuario is correct. Converts are judged differently. Nobody can do anything about it if you are born Jewish but when you are making the choice, it's a different story. However I don't think your view is going to keep you from converting. It's just something you'll need to discuss and explore through the process.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Nov 26, 2012 1:51 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the main things that separates reconstruction from the other movements their lack of emphasis on "peoplehood"?
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:49 pm

James wrote:
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the main things that separates reconstruction from the other movements their lack of emphasis on "peoplehood"?

The movement at rejects thd notion of being chosen by God but I dont know that it rejects the idea of Jews as a people group? Perhaps that is the case. Though, if that were the case then why make a point of recognizing the children of Jewish fathers as Jews? If it were just about religion that would be irrelevant. From what I have read it doesnt sound like they reject the idea of being an "ethnoreligious" group but the idea the Jews were specifically chosen by God.

Without the peoplehood, nation, interconnected family, tribal or what have you aspect of being a Jew I think being Jewish loses some of its meaning. When I hear someone say they are just interested in the religion it makes we wonder why they would go through the process and take on such a complex identity. If they trulg believe God chose the Jews and the Torah his literal words to a nation, then I get it but otherwise...not so much. One doesn't have to be Jewish to appreciate Jewish values or religious philosophy.

I am not trying to discourage or alienate anyone from the group here, it's just something I haven't really understood.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:00 pm

Ultra-Orthodox Jews don't believe that Israel shouldn't exist, but that modern Jews shouldn't have established it (and I don't think that's a universal belief among UO; I'm sure there are some modern Zionists). They believe that it's the Messiah's job to bring Jews back to Israel and that the Jewish presence in Israel will not be legitimate until the coming of the Messiah. At which point it will be very legit.

So, it's very possible to believe that the area currently known as Israel is the Jewish homeland and that Jews were given it by God, without believing that the modern State of Israel is legitimate.

If you don't believe in a permanent Jewish homeland at all--whether God-given or ours by right of prior ownership--then that will probably be a major obstacle to conversion. I honestly don't know anything about Reconstructionist beliefs, but if they have an official Zionist point of view, then I would think that you at least have to believe that Jews have a claim to the Holy Land and Jerusalem--if not now, then at least in the future. The Bible and Jews are obsessed with the Promised Land. It's all about getting to it, staying in it, and getting back to it. Synagogues and graveyards all orient towards Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. Damn near every prayer has something to do with the Promised Land or Jerusalem. I don't think you could convert and not at least believe in a future claim to it. Otherwise, what's the point of all that praying to get it back?

If the OP's position is that Israel can only be legitimate in the future, during the Redemption, then s/he should probably make that clear to the rabbi, so it's clearly not a question of whether the land is ours but a matter of timing. In which case, OP is certainly not alone in their opinion.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:27 pm

This is more in line with what I was thinking. I actually really like the Reconstructionist movement but we only have one congregation here and it's an hour away. It's small so they don't meet as often as other shuls nor do they have the number of classes, minyan, etc.

Jewish Virtual Library

When Kaplan began his career, there was widespread disagreement among Jews about how to define Judaism and what comprised Jewish identity. Reform Judaism defined Judaism as a religion only, and Jews as a community of faith. Zionist theoreticians defined Judaism as a nationality, and Jews as citizens (in exile, perhaps, but citizens nonetheless) of the Jewish nation. Secular Jews saw Judaism as a culture and Jews as an ethnic group. Kaplan sought definitions that could encompass this diversity. He decided that Judaism should be understood as the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people, and that the Jews should share a common sense of peoplehood. Judaism, like any other civilization, comprised a history, a language, a religion, a social organization, standards of conduct, and spiritual and social ideals.

From the RCC

The Jewish religion, said Kaplan, exists for the Jewish people, not the Jewish people for the Jewish religion. Where Reform Judaism saw ethical monotheism as the unbroken line of continuity throughout Jewish history, and Orthodox Judaism saw the Torah and halakhah as the unchanging constants, Kaplan held that it was Jewish peoplehood that was the sole constant throughout the evolving history of Judaism.

For Reconstructionists, Judaism is more than Jewish religion; Judaism is the entire cultural legacy of the Jewish people. Religion is central; Jewish spiritual insights and religious teachings give meaning and purpose to our lives. Yet our creativity as expressed through art, music and drama, languages and literature, and our relationship with the land of Israel itself are also integral parts of Jewish culture. Each of these aspects provides a gateway into the Jewish experience that can enrich and inspire us.








Last edited by Dena on Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:37 pm

Mychal wrote:


If you don't believe in a permanent Jewish homeland at all--whether God-given or ours by right of prior ownership--then that will probably be a major obstacle to conversion. I honestly don't know anything about Reconstructionist beliefs, but if they have an official Zionist point of view, then I would think that you at least have to believe that Jews have a claim to the Holy Land and Jerusalem--if not now, then at least in the future....

If the OP's position is that Israel can only be legitimate in the future, during the Redemption, then s/he should probably make that clear to the rabbi, so it's clearly not a question of whether the land is ours but a matter of timing. In which case, OP is certainly not alone in their opinion.

From what I know the Reconstructionist movement as a whole would not believe that God is going to set up a Jewish state for the people. Tying into what newjew already stated, the movement does not hold that God is a supernatural God that intervenes in our lives or makes conscious decisions for us. I'm sure opinions vary but I'm not sure you would find someone involved in the movement who really believes God to be that sort of God. However, they do say...

Reconstructionists affirm the attachment of our people to the Land of Israel ­ the site of our origins and the focus of our hope through the millennia. From its inception, Reconstructionism has been a Zionist movement. We are firmly committed to the building of the State of Israel and the establishment of a just and humane Jewish society there. We consider the Jewish national rebirth centered in Israel to be the greater accomplishment of the Jewish people in our century and encourage all Jews to develop their ties with the State of Israel. We emphasize the importance of visiting Israel, and we commend those Jews who commit their lives, through aliyah, to the rebuilding of our people’s homeland. While our support for Israel is unconditional, a variety of opinion exists within the Reconstructionist movement with regard to specific policies of the Israeli government. We are united in supporting efforts by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (with which we are affiliated) and others who work to strengthen religious freedom in Israel and to make Israel a religious home for all Jews.






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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:29 am

James:
I'd say that Reconstructionist Judaism is actually the "peoplehood" part of Judaism without the religious part. However, their beliefs and practices can seem confusing because although they don't necessarily subscribe to traditional "religious" ideas of God and Halacha, they tend to be more traditional in their observance than that might imply---more traditional on average than most Reform Jews, for example. But their reason for doing so is to continue in the cultural traditions of their people.

With respect to the topic of this thread:
It is important to note that for any movement of Judaism, converts may be expected to learn or do or believe things that many Jews by birth affiliated with that movement do not. This is similar to the fact that born US citizens do not need to pass a history exam or pledge allegiance to the US to be allowed to be a citizen and have privileges like the right to vote, whereas naturalized US citizens do have to do these things. So you cannot judge what a rabbi may expect of a convert based on what the lay people of his/her movement do. Some things may be mandated as required by the movement and some things may be up to the individual rabbi.

I suspect that many rabbis who would not require a particular viewpoint on Israel would nevertheless suggest that any potential convert (including those who start with positive views of Israel) study materials about it. I think that reading a wide variety of sources (from more than one viewpoint) shows the issues to be quite complicated and nuanced with no easy solutions. I think that goes for all aspects of Judaism: there are many aspects that may surprise a potential convert, such as why some aspects of Zionism (which may relate in various ways to the modern state of Israel) are so integral to Judaism. Just pull out a traditional siddur (prayer book) and notice how often zionistic ideas are mentioned. The peoplehood/religion amalgam is something that is hard for most non-Jews to understand. It certainly took me a long time to really understand this, and only once I understood both parts could I truly "feel Jewish".

I have been deeply involved in Judaism for over 30 years now and I continue learn new and surprising things about it all the time. Some of these things I like; others I find "challenging". The complexity is why a very introductory book like Jewish Literacy has 800 pages although only a page or two are are devoted to each of its 352 chapters. I subscribe to the approach advocated by Mechon Hadar: if something about Judaism is troubling to you, don't just change it or ignore it, but rather study it more deeply to see if you can reach an understanding that you are more comfortable with. But to be honest, I'm rather suspicious of anyone who feels that everything about Judaism is absolutely perfect and they unconditionally love every single aspect of it.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:27 am

Debbie B. wrote:
This is similar to the fact that born US citizens do not need to pass a history exam or pledge allegiance to the US to be allowed to be a citizen and have privileges like the right to vote, whereas naturalized US citizens do have to do these things. So you cannot judge what a rabbi may expect of a convert based on what the lay people of his/her movement do. Some things may be mandated as required by the movement and some things may be up to the individual rabbi.

That is a good example, Debbie.

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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:20 pm

Yeah, I think Debbie hit the nail on the head. You can be a born Jew and an atheist, but you can't convert if you are one. (Although if you become an atheist later, you will still, legally, be a Jew).
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John S

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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:41 pm

A perspective from a non-Jew coming off of a little over two years of Islam:

I fully support the right of the state of Israel to exist, although my personal view is that the secular government of that state has overstepped its bounds on a great many occasions.

To that end, I recognize Israel as a completely secular state that just happens to have a large concentration of Jews living there. My issues with Israel-The-State are completely divorced from my feelings toward Judaism-The-Religion, although given the 'facts on the ground' it is hard to make that mental difference at times.

I recently watched 'Exodus' and was struck by the tone of the movie near the end. Obviously, the film was made to promote Israel to the West (read: US) in the 60's, and as such the political tone was 'live and let live' with scenes of Jewish politicians- on the day of statehood- delivering speeches exhorting the Palestinians NOT to leave their homes and to remain and be good neighbors as had been the case between Muslims and Jews for centuries in the area. This was what was portrayed to the world as The Dream of Israel- but now, some 60-odd years later we see what the reality has morphed into. A far cry from those early, idealistic days.

Even so, this is not a cause for me to disallow the existence of Israel, not at all. Rather it is an occasion for me to reinforce the point that Israel is not Judaism, and criticism of Israel does not automatically equate to anti-Semitism, just as the converse is true- any critique of Judaism has to be made without reference to Israel, and the faith has to be evaluated on its own merits.

But, as one who has sat as a member of many promotion boards in the military, I know how personal opinions can affect a person's world-view; as such I think the previous advice on keeping one's opinions low-key is a very good idea, at least until the subject is broached and you have an idea of how the Rabbi is going to react to those personal views. Don't lie, of course, but rather- if you have to- be 'economical with the truth'.
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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:57 pm

Just to add, I think it would be erronuous to say that "Chareidi Jews do not support the state of Israel." There is a small minority of groups that might be considered Chareidi that do not support the modern state of Israel, but even those do so because they do not think it is the right time for such a state to exist, not so much because they believe such a state should never exist or isn't needed. It's a small distinction, I know, but worth noting.

Among the Chareidi in general, most groups support the modern state of Israel and you'll find many Charedim living in Israel. The only two that come to mind that openly oppose the modern state of Israel that spring to mind are Satmar Chassidim (and I think even they have softened some on that) and Naturei Kartai, which are often viewed as a fringe group or not even Orthodox by some other groups within Orthodoxy.

I know I have been asked by my Orthodox Rabbi and my Beis Din regarding my views on the modern state of Israel and I think it would have been a cause for concern for them if those views had not been supportive, but other streams may have other perspectives and be more lenient on the matter.
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newjew



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PostSubject: Re: Conversion to Judiasm/Zionism   Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:27 am

"To that end, I recognize Israel as a completely secular state that just happens to have a large concentration of Jews living there."

With all due respect, Israel is a Jewish state, it is not secular. Any Jew around the world whose conversion is recognized by Israel can move there and have automatic citizenship. And Israeli Arabs have second class citizenship in reality, even though it is not on paper. As far as "the right to exist", well, it does exist, generations of Israelis have been born there and they have had no choice in the matter. No reasonable person would make them leave, it is their home. But it is the home of Palestinians as well.

Just to let everyone know: I am in the process of converting with a Reconstructionist rabbi. I thank all for their responses and for the respectful replies from those who do not agree with my views. I also thank the gentlemen who responded to me privately and his supportive comments, my account would not allow me to reply back for some reason.

Thanks again, Shalom.
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