Post # 1
Hey Hive! Recently I’ve been considering converting to the Jewish faith. I have always found that my beliefs are closer to that of Judaism than my Christian upbringing, however I feared my family’s opinion (and possible rejections) so I didn’t seriously consider it until now. There are not so many problems as questions that I have and thought that perhaps some fellow bees could advise me or share some personal stories. Obviously the decision to convert will take a lot of thought, research, and time, there is no way that I will become a member of the Jewish faith by the time my wedding rolls around. It’s ironic because I know many converts do so because they are marrying someone of the Jewish faith, that isn’t the case in my relationship. Both my Fiance and myself were baptised and raised in the Lutheran church. Something which our families both love. I have talked to my Fiance about it and he is very supportive, but doesn’t wish to join me on my journey, so to say. He will fully support my decision, but he has his own beliefs that align more on the Christian side. I’ve also talked to my immediate family, they seem fairly open to the idea of my finding a faith that fits me. I’m doing some of the research, books, internet, I’m even in the process of contacting a Rabbi. I’m just wondering if any other bee has had a journey similar to this or knows someone who did? I’m curious as to if I’m doing the right thing? I’m also wondering if I do end up converting, will my marriage be viewed as legal in the Jewish community? Will I need to have another ceremony? Can I incorporate some of the Jewish traditions into my Christian ceremony? I know many of these questions can be presented to the Rabbi if and when the time comes, I’m just curious about them now. Any advice or personal stories would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Hive!
Post # 3
I just wonder why you feel the need to convert. I have lots of Jewish friends and I guess the way I see it as they find their faith in the Old Testament and I have an ‘extra’ book. Certainlly, do what your soul tells you but realize that it will effect holidays, child rearing etc. I just wondered if you could embrace the things you love without a full conversion.
Post # 4
@kazoochair: I feel the need to convert because I don’t believe a lot of the same things that were taught to me by my Christian faith. There’s a lot of detail behind that which would take some going into, but I don’t feel my beliefs anyway line up with those things I was taught as a child. Obviously, conversion is going to take a lot of time and thought and the questions you presented are going to also affect my ultimate decision. I really feel that I need to find a faith that I truly believe in and can feel a connection with, and since Christian faiths, while all very different in practice, still hold all hold the beliefs that I don’t agree with.
Post # 5
I don’t really have any specific advise for you but I just wanted to show you some support. I think it’s excellent that you found a faith you can so deeply connect with that you would convert for it. I think having a family an raising kids in two different religions is totally do-able. Many of my friends are cashews, (catholic-jewish), and loved growing up with both faiths and all the holidays. My Fiance and I are also of two different religions, (jewish and catholic) and so far it’s worked great. Our families love it that the only holiday we have to split is thanksgiving. His family always gets us for christmas, easter, etc and my family always gets us for hannukah, passover, etc. Fiance and I also love traditions and two faiths provide twice as many traditions to pass down to family.
In regards to Kazoo’s comment, no it’s not just an extra book. I’m jewish but went to catholic school for about 6 years, (don’t ask), and the two religions are very different. It’s not just a matter of jesus or no jesus. It’s a matter of the way the religions view the world, human actions and the way you live your life.
Post # 6
I hope you don’t mind that I’ve moved this to interfaith! It doesn’t fit very well, since it is you yourself that is interfaith, but I wanted to make sure people who frequent the cultural boards saw it.
I think it’s cool that you’ve found a faith that resonates for you! I know the whole Christ aspect of Christianity can be a sticking point for a lot of people, and Judaism sort of takes that problem off the table.
You should stick with whatever feels right for you, and I don’t think you should feel bad incorporating parts of Judaism into the wedding. For example, you could have both of your parents walk you down the aisle, have a chuppah and do the breaking of the glass to incorporate cultural aspects of Judaism without necessarily doing sheva brachot or kabbalat panim or other traditions that might require a deeper understanding of Judaism that you don’t have yet. I think it’s also wise to check with a Rabbi before undertaking any of the traditions to make sure.
I’d love to hear more about your journey. Best of luck!
Post # 7
I would think the baisc question is whether or not you believe Jesus is the savior. If you don’t believe that, I guess you do question Christianity. If you have an issue with some details you’ve been taught, perhaps it’s a matter of finding a different Christian faith.
I think it’s wiseto talk to a rabbi. But I think it would be good to talk to a Christian pastor too. Perhaps they have some comforting thoughts.
Post # 8
I wish you nothing but complete support in your spiritual journey!
Have you talked to your Fiance at all about how you plan to raise any children (religion wise, I mean)?
Post # 9
@ Mr.Bee: Yes we have discussed it at length, even before I began considering converting. Mr.Tal has some "hang-ups" about organized religion, so he isn’t big on going to church, but is still very spiritual. I felt that way as well about our Lutheran faith but then I started to research Judaism more and more. We have decided that with our children, even if I decide not to convert, we will explain and expose our children to the major religions. Obviously, we will know more about our religion, but with books, internet, attending different services, and questions to the heads or members of other faiths we plan on educating them. I think that we both feel that religion is such a personal matter that it shouldn’t just be assumed that they become members of our own faith, they should find something that they love and connect with, whatever that may be.
Post # 10
On your basic marriage question- if you are married before you have converted, I am 99.9% sure that your marriage would not be considered legal by Jewish law, even if you incorporate Jewish traditions. There are also different sects of Judaism, so it depends what route you are looking into- reform Judaism vs Conservation is very different. I would ask whatever Rabbi you are contacting about the process. You certainly don’t need another whole wedding- but you may need to have a small Ketubah signing ceremony with a Rabbi once you have converted.
Post # 11
- Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch
I’m (culturally) Jewish and it is *definitely* not just an extra book to be Christian; there is a huge difference in worldview (the conception of the nature of religion itself is different, ideas about the afterlife, etc.). That said, it’s a huge decision to convert, and I wish you the best of luck in making your decision!
Your marriage would not be considered legal by Jewish law if you haven’t converted yet (and probably not even if you did, dependng on the type of Judaism, since your husband-to-be won’t be Jewish and therefore many rabbis probably wouldn’t agree to perform your wedding), but your rabbi can tell you more specifically. You would not have to do a second wedding, but you’d probably have to do some portions of it over (the ketubah signing would be essential; I’m not sure about the rest).
Do you actually need a Jewish-legal wedding, though?
Post # 12
Echoing Mr. Bee, best of luck in your spiritual journey!
Jewish law is really, really complicated, and different denominations have different interpretations of Jewish law and thus what defines a Jewish marriage (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/magazine/02jewishness-t.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=israel%20marraige&st=cse for a really extreme example!). The Jewish community is definitely not monolithic–I was raised Jewish, and identify as Jewish, but sometimes feel like my Jewishness is questioned when I’m around people who are more observant. If you contact an Orthodox rabbi, or a Conservative rabbi, their interpretation of what is necessary to convert and to have a Jewish wedding might be very different than a Reform or Reconstructionist rabbi. I think if I were you, I would focus on doing what feels right to you (and your Fiance, of course!) for your wedding ceremony, and looking for a rabbi and Jewish community that is accepting and feels comfortable to you and fits with your beliefs. It might mean contacting more than 1 rabbi–I know when we eventually join our own congregation rather than our parents’, we’re going to need to search a lot, and try a lot of different services out to figure out where we want to join. I was raised in a really liberal Conservative synagogue, but my dad’s family was Orthodox and my mom’s was Reform, so I’ve seen it all over the spectrum!
This is getting really long, but mainly what I wanted to say is feel it out, and don’t get discouraged if one rabbi tells you something you don’t agree with. And don’t worry about making your marriage legal now if that would rush your process, just do what feels right.
Post # 13
First, I didn’t mean to oversimplify Judiasm and obviously I did so I apologize. I wonder if you have considered the Unitarian Church. They are non Christian and celebrate the ‘7 great world religons’…very very liberal if that fits you. It sounds like it might be a fit for your Fiance.
Post # 14
I really don’t have any advice but I get the feeling we have similar problems with Christianity. I took one of those "which religion do your beliefs line up with" quizzes (so scientific, I know) and was surprised to see Judism in 2nd place. I never would have thought of it but once I did it felt quite comfortable. (Quaker was my closest match you might look into them too if you haven’t yet.)
So yeah, just wanted to let you know that you aren’t completely out there in wanting to do this. Well, who knows, maybe it is out there but at least you have company. 🙂
Post # 15
You are going through a pretty big transition, and I wish you the best!
As for your wedding, you might see if you can find a reading from the Talmud or from a Jewish writer that expresses the ideals that are so appealing to you about Judaism, and then incorporate that into your ceremony.
I also second the suggestion to explore the Unitarian Universalist church. I attended one for a few years when I was a kid, and my friends were married in a Unitarian church. What I like about them is that they are welcoming and open minded about what people believe and how they choose to express those beliefs. As a non-religious person who has some issues with organized religion, I have always felt pretty comfortable in the Unitarian world. Not so much judgement.
Post # 16
I don’t have any answers to your specific questions, but I wanted to share my thoughts/experience. I grew up culturally Jewish and we observed some of the traditions. My parents are basically atheists so the whole experience was a bit lacking in spirituality for me. A large part of the Jewish experience these days is cultural and historical, so I don’t think adding a tradition borrowed from Judaism into your ceremony would be problematic or offensive to anyone, including a rabbi. My story is the opposite, because on my own I investigated Christianty, accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and got baptised as a born again Christian. We’re incorporating some Jewish traditions and even the sheva brachot into our ceremony because they are a part of who I am, and to honor my Jewish ancestry. By the way I know of several inter-faith families who have raised very secure children who can think critically about religion. Great book by Jim Keen, a Christian, on the topic called Inside InterMarriage (I nannied for his kids, one of whom just had her bat mitzvah 2 months ago). Good luck!!!