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Bee

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PostSubject: Children of converts   Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:58 am

Has anyone with children gone through or going through a conversion process? What does this do to your childs status and do they get to choose?
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:52 am

I'm in the process of converting, and have 4 children.

None of them will be considered Jewish until they undergo the process as well. My youngest two, who are 9 and 8, will most likely convert with me. It will be up to them whether or not they continue when they are old enough to decide for themselves. My oldest two, who are 15 and 13, currently have no desire to convert and I will not force them to do it.

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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Sun Sep 18, 2011 9:24 pm

Bee wrote:
Has anyone with children gone through or going through a conversion process? What does this do to your childs status and do they get to choose?

If you convert after your children are born then they have to also go through the process. Otherwise, they are not Jewish. If they convert along side of you then they will be Jews just the same. If you choose to convert with an Orthodox Rabbi then ideally they should be considered Jewish without any problems. Of course, we can't always force people to accept us. If you convert with a Conservative Rabbi then the children would not be accepted by the Orthodox movement. They wouldn't be allow to attend particular Jewish schools and they could potentially run into an issue with marriage (such as in-laws who do not accept them as Jews). They can always have an Orthodox conversion when they are adults too, if they feel the need.

As for choosing, I am not sure what you mean? If you are talking about a small child it's not a choice they can make, obviously. It's considered a blessing to be Jewish so you as the parent can make decide for your child. If you convert an infant or small child, when they are 13 year old they can reject their conversion if they would like to do so. So in that sense, yes they have a choice. Like James mentioned, an older child can be given the choice of whether they want to convert or not.

Debbie's children converted after they were born. Maybe she'll chime in.


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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:00 pm

We did "child conversions" for my children (who are "patrilineal Jews" since my husband is a Jew by Birth) when they were young many years before I converted. (I always knew I would convert, but I wasn't ready earlier to do so in the way I wanted for many reasons.) When such children reach bar/bat mitzvah age, it is generally understood that they have a one-time window of opportunity for renouncing the conversion that was done on their behalf before they could choose for themselves. If they have been given a proper Jewish upbringing and education as promised by the parents to the Beit Din at the time of conversion, I would guess that it is extremely rare for children to reject the conversion. If "child converts" renounce Judaism later, they are Jewish apostates in the same way that any Jew by Birth who renounces Judaism is.

A child conversion can only be done for a child below the age of bar/bat mitzvah. For teens, they can only convert in the same way as for an adult. In the case of a teen who wants to convert independently of their parents, most rabbis will make them wait until at least age 18. Regardless of age, even a "child conversion" cannot be done if the child objects---it must be done willingly to the extent that the child is able to understand which depends of course on age. Additionally, a child conversion will not generally be done without the consent of both parents because otherwise the outcome of ending up with a Jewishly educated and committed adult is uncertain.

Because Judaism does not have any concept of damnation or feeling that non-Jews ought to convert, the default is to not do a conversion if there is any reason against it.

My son was a baby, so obviously he couldn't understand or express any desire. My daughter was just old enough to understand that immersing in a mikveh had something to do with affirming Judaism for herself and she definitely wanted to do it.

Both of my children re-affirmed their commitment to Judaism when they became a bat and bar mitzvah. And because they both led an entire traditional Shacharit service and chanted from the Torah (and chanted Haftarah in the case of my daughter who did a Shabbat service), they spent 1.5 to 3 years learning with a private tutor in addition to Hebrew school. I think that is certainly pretty concrete evidence of their commitment to Judaism. I did in fact ask them explicitly if they understood that they could choose not to affirm their Jewish status. Their reaction was "Sure Mom, I understand, but why wouldn't I want to be Jewish?"

I have also made sure that they understand the ramifications of their conversion being under Conservative auspices. That Orthodox Jews might not consider them to be Jewish, for example.

I just hope that my daughter does not fall in love with an Orthodox Cohen. Even if she should re-convert Orthodox, as a convert, she could not marry a Cohen. If I had converted before she was born, there is a slight chance that an Orthodox rabbi could decide that my conversion was valid enough making her eligible (The Chief Sephardic rabbi of Israel ruled that way for a mother who had a Conservative conversion but became fully observant, so her daughter who had been brought up observant was able to marry a Cohen.) There is even a chance that a Conservative rabbi might refuse to marry her to a Cohen, particularly because she was older than age 3 when she was converted. (There is Talmudic support for considering a girl converted before age 3 to still be eligible to marry a Cohen.)

Interestingly enough, my daughter knows a lot from her Talmud study about various kinds of "tainted" lineage and relevant Talmudic arguments about that topic. My daughter really shocked her Talmud teacher by informing her that she was a "convert" because her Talmud teacher had assumed that I had converted before my daughter was born---in fact, I'm sure she assumed before marriage. It makes me chuckle because the teacher was first "out" lesbian Conservative rabbi, and she gets her teen students' attention by having them study Talmud on shall we say "adult topics", so I'm sure she never expected that she could be shocked.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:51 am

So if we have a child before conversion, he will not be able to attend Jewish schools until after 12/13?
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:24 am

Quote :
So if we have a child before conversion, he will not be able to attend Jewish schools until after 12/13?
No. "Child converts" ARE considered to be Jews, they just have this special "one-time out" offer---but if they choose at that time to not continue to be Jewish, it will be considered a renunciation. The "out" is that child converts are allowed that one time to give up their Jewish status, unlike any other Jews who are always considered to be Jewish regardless of even if they convert to another religion (which just makes them "apostate Jews").

In fact, I know several adoptees, a common kind of "child convert", who attended day schools---even an adopted child from my minyan who attended an Orthodox Jewish high school (after K-8 at a Schechter Conservative day school). Hmmm....I just realized that implies that they must have either done an Orthodox child conversion or a later Orthodox "re-conversion" before he started at the Orthodox day school. I guess they found Orthodox rabbis willing to allow the family to continue to attend my observant, but egalitarian, minyan---but at that time was not affiliated with the Conservative movement. The family is not Orthodox, although the mother keeps a very strictly kosher home and is pretty observant, but the father does not attend synagogue except for maybe at High Holidays. I guess that may explain why the mother used to drive to shul on Shabbat and holidays (except for Yom Kippur where she would walk about 3.5 miles each way), but at some point she stopped doing that. It was lucky when the minyan moved to meet in another buildng which is only about 1.5 miles from her house. But now I realize why, although they had driven to our house for a Shabbat dinner before, she will no longer drive to our house on Shabbat or chagim (We live about 3.5 miles away.)

Anyway, even though my children did not attend Jewish day schools*, they did attend Camp Ramah, the Conservative flagship resident summer camp, before their bat/bar mitzvah, and Camp Ramah requires Jewish identity (by Conservative standards) for attendance. One of the members of the Beit Din for their child conversions is a regular member of our minyan and was the long-time director of that summer camp, and he encouraged us to send our kids there. (*95% of the children of my minyan attend Jewish day school, but we wanted to have them to experience the multi-ethnic and varied socio-economic composition of the public schools in the area we chose to live in.)
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Children of converts   Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:27 pm

Got it thank you study
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