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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Okay then, Ill try to be more articulate.

I think I said before, when I first sat down with my Rabbi he said, “We don’t need you. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform. Doesn’t matter which branch—we don’t need you. If you decide to do this, it won’t be easy. I will discourage you three times, it will be more subtle than being a no-show at a meeting, but it will happen.”

And I know the consequences of converting under the auspices of the Reform Movement. I know that many Jews will never consider me to be a Jew and worse, that my children won’t be considered to be Jews. I’ve already started to contemplate having a prayer of conversion said at the bris of a son I may or may not have. While it will be an insult, at some level, to my conversion—it will insure that my son is considered to be a Jew. But then maybe it won’t, because it will be a reform Rabbi and a mohel from the Brit Milah program.

I suppose I’ll have to accept that in the eyes of the Orthodox I’m a sham. I’ll accept that the Orthodox won’t consider me a Jew. I’ll fight to be recognized by the state of Israel and under the Law of Return. Which, I suppose, at some level will have me fighting with Orthodox Jews about the eternal question, “Who is a Jew?”

I’ve read that there are people who convert three times over the course of their lives. They start in a Reform community and as they become more observant, might undergo a conversion with the supervision of a Conservative Rabbi. Later in life, they convert under the supervision of an Orthodox Rabbi. But to convert under the supervision of an Orthodox Rabbi at this time in my life, would be a lie. Isn’t that worse than converting under the supervision of a Reform Rabbi? To convert and say that I commit myself to being part of an Orthodox community and to raising my children to be Orthodox Jews, when I have no intention of living an Orthodox life. Is that really better? To start my Jewish life with a big fat lie? To join the Jewish people and then immediately become a “bad Jew.”

I suppose that you might think that I’m starting my Jewish life with a big fat lie anyway—since I’m in the Reform movement. But then you won’t recognize it as a Jewish life, so it might just be a big fat misunderstanding. “That girl studies Torah, supports Israel, forsake the religion of her family of origin, committed herself to learning our language, committed herself to raising children as Jews. Too bad she isn’t a Jew…” But then maybe you won’t waste much more time thinking about it, cause you don’t want me anyway—so what does it matter what happens in my home or in my shul?

I’m sounding defensive, but these were decisions I made when I chose to study with a Reform Rabbi. It’s kind of funny—I’ve had some good talks Rabbi Shmuley Boteach with about my conversion and my reason for conversion. He suggested that I study with Rabbi Lopatin at ASBI, but for me that doesn’t work right now.

It’s like that story, “Do you wrap teffelin? Not yet.”

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