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 Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?

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BRNechama

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PostSubject: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:28 am

Have you guys heard of Rabbi Asher Meza? I'm a fan of his; although I do not agree 100% with everything he says...or even his in-your-face type of lecture style. However in this video, I think he is right on point about the confusing issue of being a Bnei Noach...which is an option that is presented to every potential Orthodox convert to Judaism...almost to a fault (in my humble opinion).

During my conversion process, I was in a bad car accident where I was hospitalized for 5 weeks and had to go and move in with my non-Jewish family in order to have them take care of me. I was devastated...in that in an instant, I lost my "Jewish home" and push back into the non-Jewish world. It was at this point that I started researching the Bnei Noach movement. However I lost affinity with it pretty soon. First of all, for some reason, it felt that Bnei Noach communities seemed to be more study-based, but with no real guide or precedent for living and lifestyle. The lack of community left a slew of "what ifs" with me. Also while Bnei Noach people have a great affinity for Judaism and the Jewish people, only a few rabbis, even Orthodox ones, seemed willing to work and consult with them seriously (I actually personally know of one; and he would not be my rabbi of choice, even in Jewish matters).

Rabbi Meza proposes that we should actually encourage people to become Jews. While it is clear that Judaism does not believe that everyone should or needs to be a Jew, I can understand identifying non-Jews who are very spiritual and introducing them to Judaism. That is because in spite of our focus on ritual, it all rings pretty hollow without a spiritual following. I've seen very ritually observant Jews "do Shabbos" in a way that was halachaically acceptable; but devoid of spiritual meaning (and its pretty painful). I've also seen unobservant Jews and non-Jews be so overwhelmingly spiritual, it was moving just to be in their presence.

It's probably the subject of another thread, but I'm pretty critical of the "pushing a convert away" idea. I think that it is blown out of proportion and the way that many converts are treated today is more of a function of Jewish communal social fears than actual halacha. Rolling Eyes
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:38 am

Amen.

Is it an option? I don't know. If you are of the persuasion that believes that converts were at Sinai and have the spark of Judaism, noahide status will never be enough. It wouldn't be for me.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:58 am

I think Bee might be dealing with this issue right now. For me, it would never have been enough. It lacks community, guidance, clarity - everything really.
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maculated

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:15 am

I feel like I should expand on this, knowing that perhaps Bee is going through this.

I think of any converts out there, I've had a rougher time of it than most. My family still does not understand how it is I persist in this "folly" that is being a Jew. While many converts slide easily into communities, my fiance' and I are kind of trapped in a sort of limbo. I am continually entering into discussions about my validity as a Jew (actually, as we speak, my future inlaws are pouring through birth records trying to prove that my conversion was unnecessary so that they can see our wedding as legitimate and not the catastrophe they're making it out to be). We are battling whether to invite our local Chabad rabbi, who is a friend, but who can't, by policy, attend because of his official stance on my legitimacy.

I get really angry at the sort of abuse and disrespect I and my family have had to endure from some members in the Jewish community, but it doesn't send me to the store for sausage and gummy bears (my biggest sacrifices since going kosher) in rebellion. It's just what has to happen.

And that's why I don't think it works for me. At my very core, authenticity is paramount, and accepting anything other than a conversion and public Jewish life and affiliation isn't going to work. I sometimes joke I'm "gay" for Judaism because I imagine I know how people coming out of the closet feel and endure for my own "lifestyle choice."
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FaustianSlip

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:55 am

I completely agree that while I briefly considered the B'nei Noach option, it was never really an option, because there's zero community, zero support system, zero instruction on what you should learn and what you should do. Or whether you should do anything. If Orthodox rabbis really want this to be something that non-Jews consider a viable option, especially if they're going to make the argument that it's better to be a Ben/Bat Noach than to, say, gain a non-Orthodox conversion, I'd say it's incumbent on them to either help B'nei Noach integrate into the larger Orthodox community or encourage the establishment of real B'nei Noach communities in their own right. Very few people who are pursuing Judaism are going to look at what's currently available in terms of resources for B'nei Noach and go, "Oh, that's great, actually! Let's do that!" because there really isn't anything available. Chabad are the only ones I know of who have really done anything in support of being Noachide.

As far as discouraging converts, I agree that it's reached the point of absurdity, at least in the Orthodox community. I think it's completely valid to say to converts, "Listen, that's great you want to be Jewish, but there are a lot of places where we're not especially popular and where being one of us could actually put you in danger. Are you sure you want to do this?" or even point out that you don't need to be Jewish to be "saved" or anything else. But there's a far cry between that and the hazing (because that's what it's become, in a lot of cases) that goes on in Orthodox communities when someone is converting. Thank God, I didn't have to deal with any of that, but then, I had a Conservative conversion. The stories I've read and heard, though, about the Orthodox conversion process (especially in Israel), are just way beyond the Pale. Sure, you want to make sure that people are committed and aren't going to just jump ship when things get hard, but there's a difference between that and emotionally abusing people and taking advantage of their powerless position to bully and demean them.

That kind of stuff is a terrible chillul Hashem, not just for the Orthodox community, but for Judaism in general. If I were a rabbi who emotionally beat one of my conversion candidates into abandoning the process, I wouldn't be so quick to congratulate myself; what kind of things is that person going to have to say about Judaism and Jews after being jerked around for months or years by the religious community? Probably nothing good.
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:11 am

maculated wrote:
....And that's why I don't think it works for me. At my very core, authenticity is paramount, and accepting anything other than a conversion and public Jewish life and affiliation isn't going to work. I sometimes joke I'm "gay" for Judaism because I imagine I know how people coming out of the closet feel and endure for my own "lifestyle choice."

I think this is where I'm at as well.

I looked at the Noahides when I first started studying Judaism. And I agree I that might be an option for some people.

But not for me. I don't think I could ever accept anything less than full inclusion and conversion.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:05 pm

Not for me either. I need ritual in my worship--something Noahides lack, since it's a philosophy more than a religion.

If I was going that route, I might as well stay an Episcopalian so I could follow the Noahide laws and still have ritual worship.
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Samantha

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:37 pm

I did once consider this option (I just didn't have the courage to pursue my conversion at that time) but something just kept pulling me towards conversion. I just couldn't ignore my Jewish neshama - tried and tested!
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:45 pm

Mychal wrote:
Not for me either. I need ritual in my worship--something Noahides lack, since it's a philosophy more than a religion.

If I was going that route, I might as well stay an Episcopalian so I could follow the Noahide laws and still have ritual worship.

OUCH! The last time i worshipped with fellow Noahides it was with Sam Glaser to wee hours ...past midnight I will tell you that, many of us are x christians and know how to if anything, is worship! How could I answer this question briefly? Just like with all Jewish communities there are different degrees of observances in Bnai Noach. Yes the problem lies with community and it is a problem that they have been working on. The Bnai Noach Shulchan Aruch is still under review by the Sanhedrin and our siddur is done and waiting also for its publication. There are communities around the globe, but in the USA its spread out and we comminicate by secret social media, emails, webex, gatherings for shabbos, study groups and so forth. This group we belong to is not philisophical at all but labor heavily in Torah, and other Hebrew scriptures. We are hush hush because we are in the cross fires between those that feel we need to be kept down and limited in study/knowledge and others who think we are a cult, and those Rabbi's who secretly tell us we need to acquire as much knowledge as possible for the future of the Jewish people and the bringing about the age of moshiach. I could go on about this topic and our personal experience and opinions if you like. Our group is not Chabad, we are from the Sanhedrin chapter.

We have a huge support in the USA - http://noahidenations.com/ , in florida http://noahideworldcenter.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=367:noahide-community-of-tampa-bay-florida , on a national level http://noahideworldcenter.org/ ,



we have a court system: http://www.thesanhedrin.org/en/index.php?title=The_Re-established_Jewish_Sanhedrin
Jerusalem Court for Issues of Bnei Noah


The purpose of this court is to rule on the legal aspects of issues concerning Bnei Noah: biblical and internationally recognized principles as a basis for legal reciprocity in international law. Chief Justice: Rabbi Yoel Schwartz

Rabbi Yoel Schwartz, received the blessing of leading hareidi-religious Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu to engage in the project of creating a court and infrastructure for B'nai Noah. Rabbi Schwartz is the Deputy Chancellor, Segan Av Beis din, of the nascent Sanhedrin. He is also the Chief Justice, Av Beit Din, of this court, the Special Court for Matters Concerning Bnei Noah, known in Hebrew as Beit Din L'inyanei Bnei Noach, or BDBN.

This court has been set up to serve the needs of B'nei Noach worldwide. Judaism does not view itself as a universal religion, instead it sees itself as a national faith. This is understood within the context of the Jewish teaching that there are seventy nations or groups of people in the world. Each group of people must develop its own form of worship, unique to its own character. There is however a basic minimum common to all proper faiths, and this is the Noahide teachings. The Sanhedrin, through this court, is required to play a role in helping to clarify these most basic teachings, and each group of people in turn must set up its own religious court to expand, develop and adapt these laws to fit the needs of its community of believers.

At this point, the council will not serve as a adjudicating body, and will only serve to clarify halachic issues concerning the Bnai Noah. The court accepts requests for halachic rulings from B'nei Noach throughout the world.

Rabbi Steinsaltz called for an extensive project to be undertaken to help B'nai Noah in the nitty-gritty details of the observance of the religion. "A Shulhan Arukh [Jewish Law Code] for B'nai Noah must be written so that the individual can have guidance as to what to do," Steinsaltz said, referring to the compendium of practical Jewish law written by Rabbi Yosef Karo of Tzfat in the 1560's that is still used today.
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Mychal

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 5:41 pm

So, Bee, what do people DO at a Noahide service? Do you follow Jewish ritual practice? Is it modified to some degree? From what I have read (which may be old info at this point), there wasn't a mention of service--just study and maybe a bit of prayer (wasn't clear what kind of prayers) at a Noahide gathering/service.

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:44 pm

Most attend Shul services mainly orthodox or conservative congregations, the groups we know gather at homes or a building they rent. Participate in Jewish prayers, traditions to an extent. I made a Austin online group and I have only 7 members if that, but we have not met yet. There is a group in Bastrop 4o minutes from us, but they are not a group we relate to. The bigger group meets in Dallas and Waco Tx. Some Rabbi's do not allow Noahides to do certain prayers, but we have shabbat, daven, some even do tefillin-we dont. We have been told by our Rabbi's not to and we did listen on not wearing Jewish stuff in public or have mezuzahs on our doors...very low key. Most do convert, but that is even a debated issue among us. One of the leaders wife told me not to convert and told me her reason.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:50 pm

Bee wrote:
One of the leaders wife told me not to convert and told me her reason.

What was the reason?
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 06, 2011 3:30 am

Well I can't repeat her words but basically about how we are not required to convert and embrace who we are, like Rambam said -we are not of Jacob but of Hashem. It broke her heart how many close Noahide friends converted and stopped speaking to her. In my opinion is they probably can't keep Noahide leaders or build communities because they convert. My husband and I need more than just lectures, for us we chose to think for ourselves and check the scriptures and study them so we will never be deceived again. We chose Hashem, not religion, we want to do what is right and secure Torah in our home and as an inheritance for our future children just like our Noahide friends.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 06, 2011 1:06 pm

Having been in a synagogue where I felt like an outsider looking in, I couldn't go to synagogue indefinitely and not convert. That's why being a Noahide doesn't work for me. Either I'm in or I'm not.
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Dena

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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:14 pm

Mychal wrote:
Having been in a synagogue where I felt like an outsider looking in, I couldn't go to synagogue indefinitely and not convert. That's why being a Noahide doesn't work for me. Either I'm in or I'm not.

I agree. If you are drawn to Judaism there is a reason. Spending your entire life involved but yet not a Jew isn't going to work for many people.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:15 pm

I was an active participant in synagogues and Jewish communities for almost 25 years before converting. I was warmly welcomed as a community member if not an official minyan member (for which Jewish status is required) for 14 years. Except for the occasional embarrassment of having people finding out and being shocked that I wasn't Jewish, it was fine.

But ultimately it was the fact that I felt like I was dodging my obligations to God to not respond to the overwhelming feeling that I was supposed to be Jewish. I suspect that most people who really involve themselves as Bnei Noach and find that it feels right will ultimately feel the need to convert. However, maybe not all, and after quite a while for many. It could be a nice gentle and easy entry to Judaism. I feel strongly that most converts rush into it too soon, but not realizing that it is too soon because they don't have time to find out about everything in the short time that they are in the process.

I don't think it will work to have Bnei Noach folks who are in their own communities because they will not have the leadership nor foundation to build a strong and supportive community on their own, and which maintains true continuity with the Jewish idea of Bnei Noach rather than becoming its own religion. In that case, it seems like you might as well become a Jewishly influenced Unitarian-Universalist.

It seems like it might work to let designation as Bnei Noach be an entry point for prospective converts who can start to be integrated into a Jewish community. But there are a lot of barriers to integration into an Orthodox community. Many of them follow rules forbidding eating kosher food if cooked by non-Jews, for example. And some interpret rules such that they believe it is forbidden to invite a non-Jew to a seder. So it would only work for the more liberal movements which are more open to converts in the first place.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:01 pm

Dena wrote:
Mychal wrote:
Having been in a synagogue where I felt like an outsider looking in, I couldn't go to synagogue indefinitely and not convert. That's why being a Noahide doesn't work for me. Either I'm in or I'm not.

I agree. If you are drawn to Judaism there is a reason. Spending your entire life involved but yet not a Jew isn't going to work for many people.

Hence, my current stage in life....
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Fri Dec 09, 2011 1:50 am

A Chabad rabbi tried to steer me into this Noachide thing about 6 months ago when I e-mailed him with a mezuzah question (he was schlepping mezuzot for $40 a pop and the long and short of it was that he wouldn't sell me one unless I was a bona fide Jew... his prerogative, but when I told him of my plans to convert, he told me I should go to the Noachides).

I have seen most of Rabbi Meza's vids, and though I do not agree with him on a lot of fundamentals, I must say I admire his 'Judaism for the nations' attitude. I think he is right to ask 'why be a Ben Noach when you can be a Jew?'. He quotes the Talmud with something to the effect that the sincere potential convert need not be pushed away. 'Circumcise him and teach him the restrictions later as they come up' or something like that was the quote he provided.

His opinion is clear: there is only one G-d, His word is the Torah and it would be a tragedy for a sincere seeker to be pushed away from Hashem by one of His so-called followers for any reason. I more or less agree, even if I am not convinced there actually is a G-d.

Without wanting to be presumptuous inregards to adherents of this movement, I think that if one is so interested in Judaism as to join the Noachides, they might as well be Jews. The conversion options are various (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist et al.) so pick a branch that corresponds to your views and become a Jew!
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Tue Dec 13, 2011 6:08 pm

There is nothing wrong or lacking being a Noahide, after all the first yeshivah was by Shem...a Noahide who taught the patriarchs of the Jewish people the Torahs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were students of Noahides. It is not required for all to convert. Gentiles have their place in the world to come. The priestly covenant and the light to All nations was merited by the nation of Israel. The Torah is for all mankind.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:28 pm

I wanted to share a picture video of a Noahide friend singing. He mentors and teaches Mishneh Torah to other Noahides from Noahide Nations.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_vXJtiTvYo&feature=share
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:10 pm

B'nai Noach = not an option for me. Like some other posters have said, it's a matter of being Jew-ish but not Jewish.

I already keep the Noachide laws so I won't have to change anything about my life or have much room to grow. And while I could theoretically attend a synagogue and become part of a community, it would bother me to no end that I wasn't Jewish and yet deeply involved a Jewish community. It has to do not only with personal identity, but also ritual participation, passing a religious identity on to my children, etc.

So while B'nai Noach may work for some, it's just not for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Bnei Noach - An Option Or Not?   Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:40 pm

I agree that being a Noahide is not for everyone but not for some of the reasons you stated. Yes there are 7 universal laws and 66 sub categories as a minimum standard. Most people just don't realize what it takes or the variables of being a Noahide. We have grown so much as human beings and in knowledge of the Torahs (written and oral ) it is humbling. You would be surprised just how much we study. Not all were called out to be born of Jacob, but some are called out personally by Hashem. There is what Talmud calls "sparks" righteous gentiles among the gentile nations. When Hashem spoke to Moses and Israel at Mt. Sinai He did so in 70 different languages, Torah is for all mankind. I first wanted to jump in the mikvah for conversion because the thought of future children not being Jewish was unbearable. I even looked up quickie conversions. I am glad I didn't because it would have been only out of emotions and ignoring the very logic that got me out of xtianity. I am shedding 36 years of xtian theology, which is all my life. If or when I do convert it will be because I want to be part of the Nation of Israel not because of Judaism. We are not required to convert or act Jewish, we are required to keep mitzvots that are not priestly. Noahides have had pivotal roles throughout Talmud and Jewish history, these universal laws is what Judaism stemmed from. We have still a role now and in the world to come. You should ask yourself what is a Jew, what being a Jew is, and do you know what Judaism is? I am blessed to have a husband that is on this journey with me, learning to answer these three questions for ourselves and if converting is right for us or living as righteous gentiles. I sincerely wish you the best and you are in the right place to get answers and friendly people who relate to your situation.
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