Rona Michaelson said:
You can write me offline because I would like to give you my take on the conversion in Israel issue.
Yay! That said, I’m not sure I have your e-mail address. You (and all of you really) can reach me at whattoexpect2007 AT hotmail DOT com.
I am quite interested to hear about how you’ve been received by the Orthodox community as a whole.
To sum it up, the whole thing has been incredibly strange. The first Orthodox rabbi we studied with didn’t ever tried to dissuade us. I think it was apparent that we were at a point of “no turning back,” so he just tried to help us along toward more observancy. Although that rabbi was very helpful, the community he was in was not, so we weren’t exactly brokenhearted when we moved last summer.
There are a wide variety of opinions about how much a potential convert should do prior to the mikvah (for those of you keeping score at home, you are Jewish after you have your conversion mikvah). Our first rabbi was very much so in support of us doing nearly everything: tznius in dress, covering my hair, the hubby wearing tzitzis and a kippah, following as much of taharat hamishpocha as possible, and of course kashrut and shabbos/yom tov (you have to do one thing to break it and we always do). We had mezuzot on our doorposts, a blech on the stove, and were told that if we got pregnant and they couldn’t get us dunked before I had the baby, that our son would still receive a traditional bris so that there would be fewer issues later — basically, he’d be considered frum from birth.
Then we moved. It would be fair to say the train derailed. I would love to say we received a warm welcome where we live now, but it just isn’t true. The rabbi we are now studying with told us point blank to stop doing the vast majority of what we are doing, and told us it would likely be years before he would consider allowing us to go before a beth din.
Due to his attitude, we are in some ways less observant now than we were before our Reform conversion. And that, I think, is incredibly sad.
When we told him we were hoping to make aliyah this summer, he and his family basically stopped talking to us. Hence the “we’re just going to finish things up in Israel” aspect of this whole process.
If you are preparing for a halachic conversion, why would you want to have a child prior to that? It could create ssssooooo many problems down the road.
Hmm. You haven’t noted the specific concerns you’re discussing, so let me try and cover the blanket issues of which I’m aware. If I’ve missed something, please let me know:
1. If we have a child before I am Jewish by halachah, the child I have will not be Jewish and will need to have a conversion. And that child will not have our name, but instead will be “ben avraham avinu.”
In a nutshell, we’ve been told this won’t happen. A) Nine months is enough time for us to wrap things up and get dunked, which would make the baby Jewish. B) Even if that doesn’t happen, we were assured we could “pretend” and address the other issues easily. C) Even if neither of those hold true, it’s no worse than if we adopted.
2. Our child would be a ben niddah.
Yup that’s true. Then again, so is almost every ba’alei tshuvah, convert and I would wager the vast majority of Jews in the world. I’m not fussed by it really. If a secular Jew is told he’ll have a tough time with a shidduch because he is a ben niddah, what incentive are we giving him to put down the bacon double cheeseburger and become a BT?
3. Our child would not be treated as a “frum from birth” child and may have issues finding a shidduch.
Again, I have a hard time caring. First off, even if we are as observant as the day is long, it’s not going to change the fact that the hubby and I are converts. I have a feeling that the same people who would have issues about their kid marrying someone who isn’t FFB will also have issues with the fact that we converted. And really, who wants people like that for in laws?
So why are we trying to have a baby now? I find it funny that the same people who would chastise us for considering birth control if we were both Jewish and the ones trying to dissuade us from having a family now. It’s not an ideal situation and I’ll give you that one: the ideal situation would have been that I was born Jewish (which by the by, I very likely was, but that’s an extremely long issue that doesn’t really fit the MO of this blog). Can’t fix it now. Even then, all I can be is at best a BT.
I can convert to Orthodox Judaism at any point in my life, but I can only have children for a very small window in the grander scheme of things — and clearly even this facet is proving to be more difficult than ever expected. If anything, being fertility challenged has just reinforced the fact that this decision to try and start a family now was the right one.
As always, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting and thanks again for all the discussion you’ve sparked on this blog.