Monday, May 19, 2008

Converts...

Are there any statistics out there which show how many conversions to Judaism are done each year? I am curious because, anecdotally it seems like a large number...

Which is great. For one thing, it eases the in-breeding. For another, it's good to have kids that don't look like Jews. Which, by the ways seems to be some kind of American thing - even Jews by birth don't seem to look like the jews from Der Alter Heim. Maybe be it's the fluorine in the water. I look at the kids running around in shul (the Ashkenazi kids) and they all look like little Aryans - blond hair, blue eyes. This is also great. The jews that survived the Holocaust were the ones that could pass for the gentiles.

In my neighborhood, there seem to be a ton of converts - and those are just the ones I know about. There's got to be more - most don't advertise it on their forehead. And the blogosphere seems to have a large number of converts posting. Often they are the ones who are passionate, questioning, struggling...

6 Comments:

Blogger Shoshana said...

I have a Sephardi friend whose nieces and nephews are all blond with blue eyes - it's the weirdest thing!

May 19, 2008 12:43 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

what do the parents look like?

May 19, 2008 12:49 PM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

I am not sure what the statistics are, but it is sure to be of importance with the recent shenanigans in Israel regarding retroactive annulments.

The trend in the US is a decline in population, the trend within is towards non-observance if not actually declaring oneself no longer a Jew, conversion away is increasing and Christianity doesn't have any real standard beyond saying you believe and showing up at church.

Converts who are serious and non-messianic (not the Yeshua types who think Jesus was the messiah, I am an agnostic on this and moshiach in general, as in, not sure G-d is ever going to do such a thing or there's any need) are many and mostly within Reform and Conservative movements as far as I can tell. The trend is likely to get worse on the Orthodox side as the MO are ending up with the Charedi already leashing them in and second-guessing their conversion processes.

Abraham would cry I think.

My worry isn't the closet Jesus-was-messiah people. My worry is the extra-halachic standards applied to converts compared to those who win the birth lottery. There are Jews all over the place who ignore kashrut, etc., but if a convert not only doesn't stay consistently perfect in observance, but also follow UO chumrot and minhagim, then they are considered not to be serious about being Jews and so can have their Jewishness revoked as it were.

Which is stupid. You cannot go through the process of learning about Judaism and so forth on the way to conversion and miss that the people you're looking to join were nearly wiped out less than a century ago. You "get it" real quick that the measure of your commitment may be your willingness to stick by it to the death, shoulder to shoulder with them.

I have no fear to die in such company. Shoulder to shoulder whatever happens, I'm here for good. I may not be perfect, but I'm open to learning to be better.

May 19, 2008 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Seattle's Orthodox community and we have a huge number of orthodox converts especially in our ashkanazic shul. The local Kollel's most ardent followers are more often than not, converts. This includes the founders of two of our most recent right wing orthodox schools. Conversions are an issue here as the local vaad is quite strict and often dissuades those who would like to convert. Often the Kollel rabbis encourage these people to get out of town conversions but now it will be interesting to see what plays out.

I've often wondered why Seattle seems to have such a large population of converts in the right wing or our orthodox community. I don't know but I suppose, the more there are, the more likely others will feel comfortable here.

May 20, 2008 12:10 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Anonymous - interesting. Out of curiosity, where do they send them for out of town conversions? ANd how does that work. Doesn't the beis din that converts the person have to know who the person is and meet with them regularly?

May 20, 2008 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Wandering Convert said...

I would warn anyone who wants to convert that I converted 25 years ago, and the "orthodox world" has gone bonkers. There is no search for truth, only uniformity in action and in appearance.

Where has the brilliant and inspiring mixture of so many Jewish cultures, united in one God and one Torah, but following their own ancient practices gone? Like the rainforests of South America, we may never realize what we have lost. It reminds me of the years after the Roman conquest, when so many branches of knowledge were lost for ever.

I have known may converts, very sincere Orthodox Jews, some with years of learning, who have turned their backs on the community, some returning to their former lives. They all have shared with me the lament of Eliza Dolittle, "Where am I to go?"

I have long considered where it is I will go. I regret my conversion because I consider it an unbreakable obligation to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, yet I find myself and my children tied to this craziness. And it is only getting worse.

I do not "daven with the penguins" anymore, and seek out more modern Orthodox settings, but over time more and more of those have hired "black hat" rabbis, and are leaning to "the Wrong."

God save us from our own stupidity.

May 25, 2008 6:36 AM  

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