Tuesday, October 21, 2014

// // 6 comments

A Conservative Convert


Ruth in the Fields, Huges, 1876

A Conservative Convert


     My husband and I and our 4 children converted a year and half ago to Judaism. At the time we didn't know there were many branches in Judaism. We went to many classes before the rabbi there approved us for conversion. It was at a Conservative synagogue. The men underwent brit mila and the women mikveh. Since the conversion we have lived a Jewish lifestyle.  We eat kosher we don't mix meat and dairy, we keep the Sabbath, our children attended Jewish religious school. However, when we moved from New Mexico to Utah we were told that our conversion is invalid. It was a very hurtful moment for us.  Rabbi, please tell me why is it invalid? We were sincere at the conversion. We pledged our allegiance to the God of Israel and no other deity. We accepted the written and the oral Torah. Our hearts were very sincere. Didn't Ruth convert too? And father Avraham? So then why are we pushed away and our conversion invalid?
Please help us find our way. We cannot go back to our previous life style.  Our children and we are suffering because we can't go to synagogue or to religious school.  They said we didn't meet halacha so we cannot attend services. We left our families and our beliefs to attach ourselves to the Hashem and his people and now we are abandoned not by God but by his people.

Please advise.

Thank you for your time

Gutman's response;

     When someone converts to Judaism they are converting to a people not to a religion, so they will want to join the entire people. If you would have converted Reform, the Conservative would not have accepted that conversion, and of course neither would have the Orthodox. When one tries to convert through the Conservative, then the Conservative and the Reform accept that conversion, but not the Orthodox. However, when one converts through the Orthodox, all streams of Judaism accept that conversion, and consider that person to be a Jew.

     With such a sincere background as you and your family have, I am sure that you will be able to find an Orthodox court that will help you to fulfill the requirements for an Orthodox conversion. Start by asking the Chabad rabbi in your city what to do. Do not be distressed. Just keep moving toward the goal. You and your family will succeed.

Have a wonderful New Year.

 

6 comments:

Anonymous said...


Synagogue services are open to all and you should be able to attend irrespective of your conversion status.As suggested above your local Chabad house should be able to guide you. Good luck!

Yankev said...

This story about Dovid Staples is from the Clechaim newsletter. His family is originally from New Mexico.

Becoming a Jew
by Dovid Staples

My family's story is a long one. In a nutshell, our goal was to become better Christians; we wound up becoming Jews.

It all started with a bible study class my parents enjoyed. The teacher was an insightful man with a gift for teaching. One day however, he simply stopped teaching at the church. My mother called him and asked if she could continue learning with him. He agreed. My parents went to his home where he taught them in a different fashion that rejected certain church teachings and was more true to the original Bible. He challenged them to search the Bible for themselves.

Surely, they thought, it was just a matter of finding a new church.

But after looking into several churches, my parents gave up church hunting. They said a prayer, asking G-d to show them where He wanted them to go and to give them the ability to follow.

One night my father saw an infomercial for what later turned out to be a cult. They called the number and had the minister come to our home. After two hours we told the minister we would like to come to services. He was kind and said we would be welcome, except, "It won't be a problem in your case since you're already married, but once a year we talk on the subject of marriage, and...well, we teach against interracial marriage." (My mother is white and my father is black.) My parents showed him to the door.

By this time, my grandmother had hopped on the bandwagon with us. After the fiasco with the previous minister she decided to see who else might observe "Biblical Feasts." Off to Google she went. She asked my mother, "Have you ever heard of the Messianics?" They still believed in the Nazarene, the difference being they believed that they were also supposed to keep all the commandments of Judaism too. We became internet Messianics. Whatever we learned on Google became add-ons to our Messianic life-style.

We lived happily this way for a while until my parents felt we needed a central place of worship. They found a Messianic Friday night service. They were moved by the candle lighting, by the beautiful tallitot the "rabbi" and all the men and women were wearing. It was the Jewishness that was so appealing! My mother asked the rabbi where to buy a tallit, candles and the "Shabbat Shalom" tablecloth, and he said tersely, "Why do you want those things? You're not Jewish."

That remark hung over our heads. We felt that our sincerity accounted for something; that our beliefs obligated us to do what the Bible said. On a Jewish message board my mother read a heated argument about non-Jews attempting to keep the mitzvot (commandments) that were given exclusively to Jews. It was like a kick in the gut. It meant that it wasn't enough to be sincere. We weren't Jewish.

My mother strongly felt we had to do something about this. My father was content with the way we were. Major arguing ensued. It climaxed when one day my father stormed out of the room and took his tallit and prayer book. "Where are you going?" my mother asked. "I need to pray now," my father angrily replied. "But," my mother countered, "the tallit, the prayers, they're not yours. They're not ours." Those words deeply affected him. He realized it was true. Those things were not his. He was not Jewish....

Anonymous said...

Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Conservative_Judaism. The conservative movement goes against the halachas of having a mechitza in a shul and women singing in front of men. It says that certain foods, such as swordfish and rennet. It ordains women. They do not encourage married women to use the mikva. etc. Accepting the Torah from Hashem is also accepting the Rabbinic rulings throughout the ages. To be considered a Jew, one has to accept the laws of of the Torah from Sinai, as well as how they have been interpreted throughout the ages. I am sure you and your family want to be sincere Jews but the conservative movement is not interested in sincere Judaism-it started by those who wanted to break off from orthodox Judaism. Unfortunately, the conservative movement duped you and a lot of others into thinking they are Jews. Hope you can convert properly soon and have your children in a Jewish school

Anonymous said...

This family sounds very much like mine and a few others I know of. We all came from this similar background and on this similar path and 'converted' Conservative. In time, we've all converted k'halacha and become Orthodox. Just consider it part of your own personal tikun and part of the suffering that allows you to truly acquire Torah and mitzvot ("Three things are acquired only through suffering - Torah, Eretz Yisrael and the World to Come.") Continue to pray for guidancea and Hashem will show you what He wants you to do. He won't fail you! Remember Avraham Avinu's tests. You are following his path so you will be tested, too. With blessings for success from Holy Yerushalayim.

Yoel said...

I too was a Conservative convert and later converted Orthodox. It can be done!

Even if your intent is 100% right with a non-Orthodox conversion, it is not valid, because the members of the beit din must be kosher witnesses, and someone affiliated with a heretical movement is not a kosher witness.

The Conservative movement tries to portray itself as an authentic continuation of traditional Judaism, but this is clearly false. Not only have they changed many rabbinic mitzvot (such as changing the number of days required before mikvah), they have also completely abolished certain Torah mitzvot (such as the marriage restrictions for kohanim), and abandoned fundamental beliefs (such as the Sinaitic origin of the Oral Law). Such dramatic changes are completely out of the question from traditional Jewish law (including the available methodologies for changing halacha or adapting it differently to the times). Having watered down Judaism so much and violated its fundamental tenants, it's no wonder the movement is unable to keep its children from intermarrying at extremely high rates, and unable to inspire a significant proportion of its membership to be completely observant.

It may take a lot of determination and hard work to finish an Orthodox conversion for your family, but don't lose heart. Remember that everything that happens happens for a good reason. Even if the Conservative conversion is not valid, it all happened for a good reason and you should thank Hashem for it, as well as everything else that happens to you. Have faith that you will be able to convert at the right time. Contact the nearest RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) beit din and they will probably have good advice for you. Hatzlacha!

Yoel said...

See the book DoubleLife by Harold Berman, or Migrant Soul by Avi Shafran (or even the book on conversion by Dov ben Avraham). Many people have converted non-Orthodox and ended up converting Orthodox. Again, hatzlacha!

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