“I know that game. I invented that game. So, they’re Rules Rabbis,” said Charlotte from Sex and the City.
It’s true. When considering conversion to Judaism from another religion, whether for a wedding, or just because, rabbis will traditionally turn you away. Rabbis are known to test your commitment by saying “NO!” three times. Then it is up to you!
Considering converting for your beshert (your meant to be)? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself and your intended before taking the plunge.
You’ll know! I hate to sound trite—but, you’ll know. If you are pressured to convert or feel as if you must do so just to be married, then you should stop reading now and read my article on incorporating Jewish traditions into your interfaith wedding. However, if you are committed to having a Jewish home, raising your children Jewish and are intellectually curious about Judaism—then read on! The best place is to start is with curiosity.
Absolutely! Most people begin the road to formal conversion after first experiencing life in a Jewish family, home or community. Jewish rituals don’t negate anything you were raised to believe. You can get married under the chuppah! You can participate in congregational services, learning and holiday celebrations. You can attend or host a Passover seder. You can light candles on Shabbat and enjoy a day of rest on Saturday. If nothing else feels right for you—learn a new recipe or two and eat Jewish soul food.
There are lots of different flavors of Judaism. But, no one is more Jewish than any other (despite what you might hear or think). You should try them all—and decide for yourself what feels right for you. Do you like traditional music and lots of Hebrew in your worship service? Do you want to belong to a community that keeps strict Kosher? Do you feel more comfortable in a setting where there are same-sex couples and no one frowns at ear piercings or tattoos? Judaism is a big tent—you have to find the most comfortable seat for yourself.
I appreciate this commentary from Union for Reform Judaism: “Most Jews by choice maintain warm relationships with their families of origin. Conversion to a new religion does not suddenly make you over into something altogether new; nor does it cut you off from old family ties or memories.”
One friend of mine who converted at least 40 years ago still decorates a Christmas tree each year. For her, it is a holiday tradition she shares with both sides of her family – one she couldn’t bear to lose.
Another friend, says, ”We’re Jewish 51 weeks out of every year. But, on Christmas Eve we visit my family and attend Christmas Eve mass. We just don’t bow our heads in all the same places and we modify the prayers in our heart.”
Let us know below! And, if you want to learn more about Judaism’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah, then visit The Modern Jewish Mitzvah.