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Samantha

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

First topic message reminder :

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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BRNechama

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:02 am

Bee wrote:
Samantha wrote:
My name is Rut Bat Avraham V'Sarah. I am a Jew!

I'm currently blogging my experience with gusto, so will post it in a bit. It was, in a word, incredible.
Do you pick your name or does your Rabbi?

My given birth name seems very Israeli; since it is the feminine form of the Hebrew word for "first" (I guess it's like those trendy American names where a common word is used as a proper name; like "Winter" or "Ridge"). My mother (who doesn't know any Hebrew) got my name from "a magazine".

To people fluent in Hebrew, they've always marveled at my birth name; wondering if I choose it. For my Reform conversion, the rabbi said plainly "You already have a Hebrew name...so no need to do anything there!" However for my Orthodox conversion, I expected to have a name change. There is a significance to changing a name; like when someone is very ill, there is a change in name. It signifies a transformation.

For some reason, I wanted to retain my initials somehow. My given middle name is Nicole...so I started looking at Hebrew "N" names. I liked "Nechama"...which means "comfort". However as the mikveh date drew closer...there was no mention of picking a name. Also if I wanted to keep initials, then my name would have been "Rishona Nechama"...which is sort of like adding on a name, not getting a new one.

The night before the mikveh, I called the woman from the community that I requested to be my shomeret (helper/watcher...in addition to the mikveh lady). She told me that the Beit Din told her that she would have to remind me to request a name. Then, as a line of innocent advice, she listed some common names for converts (i.e. Sarah, Ruth, etc.). The next day at the mikveh, she asked me if I had decided upon one. One of the names that she listed was "Batya" (pronounced "Basya" in the Ashkenazic rendition)...which was the name of Pharoah's daughter - who was a non-Jew, but converted to Judaism later...according to midrashic sources. Out of respect for her...as well as the desire to adopt a new name totally; I opted to go with that. Very Happy

After the mikveh, when the Beis Din was filling out the paperwork, they asked what my new name was (it was not part of any of the brachot or things recited in the mikveh). I told them "Batya". The one Rabbi then suggested that I could have a double first name (something that I'm noticing more and more of in the Orthodox community). So I told him, fine, it can be "Batya Rishona".

Although it came about sort of haphazardly, I liked the end result. Besides, the translation works well (directly translates as "First Daughter of G-d") Thumps Up
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:46 am

Bee wrote:
Samantha wrote:
My name is Rut Bat Avraham V'Sarah. I am a Jew!

I'm currently blogging my experience with gusto, so will post it in a bit. It was, in a word, incredible.
Do you pick your name or does your Rabbi?

I did. I wanted a highly traditional name and Rut always resonated within me. It was the first and only name I ever considered!
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:29 am

I also added a name to signify the change in status, so my Hebrew name is Dena Nechama. I have considered changing it legally. I would still keep the "e" in Dena, rather than change it to the more traditional "i". I looked at other names but nothing struck me except for Nechama. I've always thought my mother chose the perfect first name for me (I was the only young girl I knew who actually loved her name) and Nechama just seemed to be perfect too.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:35 am

Samantha, thank you for sharing your story with us!
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:47 am

About the name Dina:

One of the founding members of my lay-led minyan spelled his oldest daughter's name "Deena". The advantage of that spelling is that no one mispronounces it with a hard "i". He will be reading the fifth Torah reading this coming Shabbat which is a long one (42 verses!) about the rape of Dina. I am coordinating services. Usually I only ask S to read Torah after calling almost everyone else because since he is probably the most skilled (it helps that he has a PhD in Semitic Linguistics so he knows Hebrew really well), he leyns all the time and I feel it is nice to give him a break. But there are only a few Torah readers in my minyan who are willing to read that long a Torah reading, so this time I just asked him first. He wasn't in when I phoned, so I next contacted another member who can read really long aliyot (she happens to be an Orthodox convert of 30+ years). She said she had read both of the long readings before (#5 and #6 which is 37 p'sukim), so could do which ever one S didn't take.

When I mentioned that #5 was about Dina, she sighed and said (she is very blunt) "I hope J is not giving the D'var Torah. She always uses this parashah to lecture about sexual abuse." I told her I was planning to be lazy and just ask my husband who can create a great D'var Torah by just reading the parashah and thinking about it for a few minutes.

Anyway, S finally returned my call saying that he would be pleased to read Hamishi because he usually likes to read that one since it is the namesake of his daughter. And he likes to do another reading a few weeks later that is about the namesake of his second daughter.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:23 pm

Dena wrote:
Samantha, thank you for sharing your story with us!

You're very welcome - I'm still on an absolute high - walked around town with a silly grin on my face for most of today. Laughing I keep replaying the events of yesterday in my mind, and the more I do, the more it hits home.

Most converts here in the UK don't choose two Hebrew names - it's not really the done thing here, even in the most liberal congregations. We're quite a bit behind the US when it comes to that, which is a shame as I would have loved two Hebrew names!
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:54 pm

Having two Hebrew names is neither modern or particularly "liberal". In fact, it seemed that all the girls in the Lubavitch girls school that rented classroom space from my lay-led minyan's host shul had two names (from labels on the lockers) and I'm pretty sure the names they used were their Hebrew names. One reason they needed two names is that the names seemed to come from a very limited list. For example: "Chana Leah", "Chanie Leah", "Devorah Leah", "Leah Malka", "Leah Rivka"..... probably the names of the wives of the movement's revered rebbes. So at least with two names there were fewer duplications (and that was solved by using diminutives for some names).

You can add a name, it just won't be on your conversion certificate. I know people who have changed or added to their Hebrew names after some major life event. There is a tradition to change a person's name if they are very ill in the superstitious hope that "death" will not recognize the person or something like that.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:20 pm

That's really interesting, thanks for that. I've not yet met a single convert in this country with two Hebrew names. I know mine's a very common one for converts but I'm not paranoid about my status as one, which I think some people can be. I know that a friend of mine who converted several years before me was horrified when I said I'd chosen the name of Rut. "You'll sound so convert-y!" I'm proud of my status as a convert - and even then I'm still a Jew in every sense of the word. I don't have this kind of paranoia at all, but I can understand the logic behind it.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:42 pm

I know a lot of Jews by birth with the name of Rut. The "bat Avraham v'Sarah" signals "convert" anyway. I've always wondered about the JBB with parents whose names really are Avraham and Sarah. Do they people assume they are converts? And I"ve found that people don't tend to listen to people's names as they are called. I didn't even always notice people being called with that convert marker until I became hyper-sensitive to it due to my own situation.

You know what warms my heart? It's when I am called for an aliyah and the coordinator didn't just pull each honoree's index card, so the gabbai doesn't have the cards to read off. Then the gabbai (who knows me quite well since in my minyanim we all know each other), leans forward expectantly to get my Hebrew name and if I say only "Devorah Rut" he pauses while waiting for me to fill in the lineage part as if he didn't know or remember ;) In other words, treats me just the same as any other Jew. One time the person who did that was one of the rabbis who had been on the Beit Din for my conversion, so obviously he knew the rest of my name!

Besides that, for me, my ethnicity means that very few people have ever though that I was a Jew by Birth. I try to "wear with pride" the fact that I am a convert.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Ouch.   Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:52 pm

That really made me smile. I have my first aliyah this Erev Shabbat, and I'm so excited for it. & the fact I have to say the words of Rut makes it even more powerful as it links in with my Hebrew name.

If anything I think we should all be proud we choose Judaism for ourselves. It's such a huge life-altering decision.
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