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Samantha

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PostSubject: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:15 pm

Just been told by my (very very apologetic) rabbi that my conversion will be put back by a month and a half, as there's no room left in the October slot for the beit din. The next is on December 6th.

Note that I have spent 7 years of my life studying Judaism and another 2 years converting, so news like this is both intensely painful and horribly frustrating for me. It's like someone dangling a delicious piece of cake in front of a starving person, and then suddenly snatching it away. It's so hard to be in limbo with your own identity; thinking, feeling and acting like a Jew, and yet not actually being one officially.

Think I could cry from the disappointment but trying to keep my chin up, a month and a half more isn't going to make any difference, right?

Has anyone else had such a disappointment before? I want to be Jewish so much. It's all I've ever wanted in the past 7 years and I thought I was going to be Jewish by the end of this month.

Sigh. All part of the test of a convert, I suppose.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:54 pm

I am sorry Samantha. I had set a date for mine but had to move it up a few weeks for logistic reasons but it wasn't too terrible. I probably should have taken more time. I can imagine though that it feels almost suffocating. But you will get through it!

Are there a lot of conversions happening this time of year?
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:04 pm

Dena wrote:

Are there a lot of conversions happening this time of year?

Thanks Dena for your comforting words, helps a lot. There are quite a few yes - but as the board only meets once every two months it's a struggle fitting all the candidates in. Quite often people choose the end of the High Holy Days to begin the conversion as this is when the new cycle of Judaism 101 classes begin, so logically this time would be favoured.

I can't help but be really sad over it all. But it'll happen. I've been this patient for so long, I can hardly see how a month and a half will have much more of an effect on me, but it's disheartening to be told this when I've been literally counting the days till the end of October...

How did you feel about moving your conversion ahead? Did you feel rushed or relieved? In quite a few ways I am glad my conversion has been a long time coming; I have had so much time to prepare for becoming Jewish it has made the transition pretty smooth in a way.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:17 pm

Sad I'd be sad too. I'm anxious to get going with mine too (I haven't even started the formal process; the fall class I was supposed to be in was cancelled, so I have to get started with the rabbis privately when they have time). I mean, it's pretty distressing to think, if I died right now, I wouldn't be buried in the Jewish cemetery.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:30 pm

Mychal wrote:
Sad I'd be sad too. I'm anxious to get going with mine too (I haven't even started the formal process; the fall class I was supposed to be in was cancelled, so I have to get started with the rabbis privately when they have time). I mean, it's pretty distressing to think, if I died right now, I wouldn't be buried in the Jewish cemetery.

Ugh there's nothing worse than delays like that! Don't worry, you'll begin eventually. Part of the conversion process has been (for me anyway) delving into my seemingly endless supply of patience, but I'm very close to running out now. It's very painful and pretty soul destroying at its worst. But it'll all be so, so worth it.

My new date is now the 6th December - 3 days before my 23rd birthday - so at least it'll be a birthday present to remember! Laughing
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:39 pm

You're not alone, I had a delay in my conversion, too. I could have gone to mikvah before Pesach this year. It would have been wonderful to lead my Pesach seder as an "official" Jew. But my cantor wanted to be on my beit din and at mikveh with me, and couldn't do it until a month later. She asked me if I would accept a date a month later so she could be there. Of course I said yes, but I counted every minute in between.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:44 pm

Well, I guess we just have to think about it this way: once we're finally a Jew, we'll be a Jew for life.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:52 pm

mikedoyleblogger wrote:
You're not alone, I had a delay in my conversion, too. I could have gone to mikvah before Pesach this year. It would have been wonderful to lead my Pesach seder as an "official" Jew. But my cantor wanted to be on my beit din and at mikveh with me, and couldn't do it until a month later. She asked me if I would accept a date a month later so she could be there. Of course I said yes, but I counted every minute in between.

That's very noble of you to wait for your cantor. She must mean a lot to you.

Very funny, speaking of mikveh, my rabbi shared a private joke with me that she was glad I was female as her last convert was male, and so she had to find a male colleague to witness his immersion on her behalf and it was a huge struggle (most of the rabbis in UK Liberal Judaism are female). Laughing
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:15 pm

Samantha wrote:


How did you feel about moving your conversion ahead? Did you feel rushed or relieved? In quite a few ways I am glad my conversion has been a long time coming; I have had so much time to prepare for becoming Jewish it has made the transition pretty smooth in a way.

Oops, sorry. I meant I delayed it a bit. But not by much.
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 2:37 am

Has it always been like this? What I mean in the Jewish converting history, has it always been a trial? I have read a story in one of the tractates that a certain rabbi needed two more for a minion so he freed one slave and he did the mikvah, and counted the other. And un the Tanach when men of war bring back females as part of the spoils they would shave their heads and wait I think a month or so and could marry them if they chose to accept...which meant they converted. But I have not read a time frame, other than that rabbi story I assume that was within a few hours.

Ps I know it is a good thing to take your time for the converting process I have learned to accept that and very happy it takes time..just wondering if it changed or has always been a long process.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 4:59 pm

No. I mean, Ruth converted by saying, "Your people will be my people," and that, essentially, was that. Although some will point out there really wasn't the concept of conversion in Biblical times. You simply "joined the Jewish people" by sojourning with them. But that didn't necessarily make you a Jew, just a community member.

Also, around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, the Romans outlawed Jewish conversion under pain of death. It's a restriction that Klal Yisrael still holds onto in many ways--witness the continuing reticence to proselytize Judaism (outside of Chabad, anyway!), and the hard time converts get when trying to convert Orthodox (vs. liberal conversion streams.)

That said, today the conversion experience really varies--by denomination and even synagogue by synagogue within each denomination. You'll probably spend years studying for an Orthodox conversion. You may spend less than a year studying for conversion with a Reform rabbi (my conversion process took eight albeit very intense months.) Then again, you may spend years converting outside Orthodox auspices.

I think the bottom line is the sincerity of the person seeking to join the Jewish people. More than anything, that's probably what drives the conversion time frame--our inner, even self-imposed trial. Rabbis want to be able to know that what's in your heart and your head about Judaism and your reasons for converting are authentic and true.

And one good thing to keep in mind is that no one rabbi or synagogue or (if you're brave enough) stream of Judaism holds the keys to conversion for anyone. If you think the time frame is too long (or too short) or the barriers and pushback are too strong (or too feeble) for your personal journey, you are absolutely free to associate yourself and seek conversion elsewhere.

I'd write that last paragraph twice if I weren't so busy at work today ;-)
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:46 pm

Sometimes I secretly dream of becoming a rabbi and converting lots of people. I'm not talking revival altar call sorts of conversions--I mean serious conversions which require study--but helping people convert--hand helping secular born-Jews "convert" as well--would be my main calling.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 6:04 pm

Mychal wrote:
Sometimes I secretly dream of becoming a rabbi and converting lots of people. I'm not talking revival altar call sorts of conversions--I mean serious conversions which require study--but helping people convert--hand helping secular born-Jews "convert" as well--would be my main calling.

You don't have to be a Rabbi to do those things. Very Happy
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:35 pm

Mychal wrote:
Sometimes I secretly dream of becoming a rabbi and converting lots of people. I'm not talking revival altar call sorts of conversions--I mean serious conversions which require study--but helping people convert--hand helping secular born-Jews "convert" as well--would be my main calling.
I'm your fan! Count me in!!
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:22 pm

Bee wrote:
Mychal wrote:
Sometimes I secretly dream of becoming a rabbi and converting lots of people. I'm not talking revival altar call sorts of conversions--I mean serious conversions which require study--but helping people convert--hand helping secular born-Jews "convert" as well--would be my main calling.
I'm your fan! Count me in!!

Go for it! My own rabbi is female, AND a convert. She's the one who has persuaded me to consider rabbinic school in the near future. It's not inconceivable! & whats more, converts make the best rabbis due to knowing how a convert feels.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:18 pm

I could see myself as a Rabbi in a hospital or teaching at a University but I could never see myself having a congregation. Rabbinical school is a lot of work and money too and I don't think I would convince my husband to give up his career to follow me to Rabbinical school is Israel for a year or two. Laughing I love Judaism, I love being a Jew, I love learning, I like teaching and I love helping others but I doubt I am suited to the Rabbinate. I'm still hoping to be a therapist one of these days. That's still a very Jewish profession. Wink and Smile
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 1:57 pm

"Oy, you think you've got it so bad? Let me kvetch! My children never call, my grandchildren live on the other side of the country, my challah fell last Friday night--when the rabbi was over for dinner, no less--flat Challah!--and now I'm down in my back. I can barely move, would you look at this? Barely moving!"

Laughing

Actually, Dena, someone I knew from my synagogue has gone to rabbinic school (he and his wife both converted together) and he's in Israel for a year. She's still here, working. I guess he flies home to see her on the holidays, because someone told me she was terrified to fly. I'm sure it's not easy, but they're making it work.

He's going to be a good rabbi because he's a nice guy and he's very studied and he's not afraid to slap some Talmud on the table for discussion at Torah study (he's more conservative than our rabbis--especially our female rabbi--which is one of the reasons why I liked it when he lead our study sessions). And I bet he won't be reluctant to convert people.
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mikedoyleblogger

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:11 pm

I might as well jump in here, since I already "came out" on Facebook before the High Holy Days about it anyway. I actually do want to be a rabbi. Maybe not a congregational rabbi (maybe so--who knows?), but for months I've been thinking about what it would be like to go to rabbinic school. I told my rabbi and he told me to (continue to) study Hebrew and (begin to) study Mishnah.

I'm doing both of those things, and plan to consider making applications a year from now. (He also invited me to spend a week shadowing him to get a feel for what it's like to be a congregational rabbi--I haven't taken him up on this yet.)

It's just that consistently, from the first day I ever attended a Jewish service--which, by the way, is one Hebrew year ago today!--I've had this unquenchable thirst to dive as deeply into our tradition as possible, learn it, celebrate it, practice it, and not come up for air. I keep waiting for that urge to alter, or lessen, or change. But all I come up with is sitting back, leaning into my growing Yiddishkeit, pulling it around me like a warm blanket, and smiling.

I don't want to be all doe-eyed about it like that animated "rab-EYE, I want to be a rab-EYE" video on YouTube. But I'm coming to realize the path is in me. Anyway. Just wanted to say the desire to be a rabbi isn't a farfetched one for converts.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 2:42 pm

Mychal wrote:

Actually, Dena, someone I knew from my synagogue has gone to rabbinic school (he and his wife both converted together) and he's in Israel for a year. She's still here, working. I guess he flies home to see her on the holidays, because someone told me she was terrified to fly. I'm sure it's not easy, but they're making it work.

My husband doesn't even go on business trips longer than two weeks without me. We don't do well being apart. I won't be going back to school anytime soon anyway. You know, that money issue that always gets in the way. I'm also 29 so the window for having babies is getting smaller. Wink and Smile

mikedoyleblogger wrote:

Anyway. Just wanted to say the desire to be a rabbi isn't a farfetched one for converts.

No, of course it isn't. I'm sure nobody here would think it's farfetched for converts. It actually seems to be pretty common, which makes sense.

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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 4:50 pm

If you love enough to convert, you probably love it enough to want to help teach others to love Judaism too (which is the biggest part of a rabbi's job, I think).

I don't know; I'm saving a decision for when I turn 40. If I hit 40 and I'm really distraut that I'm getting older and I feel like I haven't done much with my life, I'll go to rabbinic school. THERE'S a mid-life crisis!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:42 pm

Now this is totally up my ally. It's a dual-degree program which combines Jewish Studies through JTS and a Master's in Social Work through Columbia. Jewish Studies + Social Work would be awesome.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:52 pm

I already have one foot on the ladder of Jewish education, having been offered a job as teacher in the cheder. However I do plan on going into Jewish adult education eventually, whether that's as a congregational rabbi or in adult education remans to be seen, though.

It's definitely not far fetched. My rabbi is a convert and has to be one of the most Jewishly educated people I know, with a Masters in Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She's a true inspiration for converts and born Jews alike.
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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:10 am

I too had a last minute delay in the finalization of my conversion. Suffice it to say that it was an "act of God" and the delay was only two weeks. I was just glad that I had told very few people that I was studying for conversion, so I didn't have many people who would be expecting it to happen and would need to be told about the delay.

I converted after 25 years of very active participation in Jewish life and about 9 months of private study with a rabbi. If my sponsoring rabbi had required a full year as is typical, I would have been OK with that. I figured that if I had taken more than 2 decades to decide that I was really ready, what was another year? In fact, I loved learning with him and although I did want to finalize the conversion and looked forward to becoming an "official member" of my lay-led minyanim, I regretted that it would mean the end of our bi-weekly meetings.

The final delay was certainly disappointing (and my sponsoring rabbi offered me sympathetic and encouraging words about it), but I told myself that since my rabbi had not done the "turning away three times thing" (unless you count the times that he had to reschedule our meetings due to attending to important matters such as funerals for his congregants), that it was just like a small final obstacle from God to "test" my resolve.

Samantha, A month and a half is not forever and at least you won't miss any important holidays for "first time as a Jew" experiences. Your big day will be here before you know it, and you'll just be even more ready for it with this last period of yearning.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:50 am

Debbie B. wrote:

Samantha, A month and a half is not forever and at least you won't miss any important holidays for "first time as a Jew" experiences. Your big day will be here before you know it, and you'll just be even more ready for it with this last period of yearning.

Thank you Debbie for your kind words. I have spent a long time milling about all this and I've realised that actually, it's not that long a delay at all. I would wait a lifetime for the outcome.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Tue Nov 08, 2011 12:28 pm

Oh, my Rabbi is such a darling. Received a call from her this afternoon saying she wanted to confirm if I was able to attend the Bet Din on 6th December! I'm booked in and my conversion ceremony will be happening the following Shabbat, which happens to conveniently be my 23rd birthday. An act of G-d, perhaps?! What a birthday present.

I'm so happy it's finally happening, I feel like crying with joy!
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