I am delighted to introduce a fabulous second guest post from Michele Schwartz, editor of The Modern Jewish Wedding, a popular website for Jewish/ interfaith couples and wedding planners.
[image: Sex and the City via HBO.com]
“I know that game. I invented that game. So, they’re Rules Rabbis,”
Charlotte York Goldenblatt 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…
If you are considering converting for your ‘beshert’ (your meant to be), here are some questions that will be useful to ask yourself and your intended before taking the plunge.:
1. How do I know if Judaism is right for me?
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 previous post 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.
- Read, read and then read some more.
- Attend services at several different local synagogues.
- Take a class. Most congregations offer a weekly text study you can attend. You can also check out your local Jewish Community Centre or even a local university to find classes or lectures that spark your interest.
2. Even if I don’t convert can I work Judaism into our marriage and home?
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.
[image: Daphna & Godwin's Tuscany wedding ]
3. How “Jewish” do I want to be?
There are lots of different flavours 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 strictly 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.
4. How can I maintain my relationship with my family of origin?
I appreciate this commentary from the 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.”
[image: Sandra & Re'sm's Israeli wedding on the beach / Avner Zarfati ]
5. What other resources should I explore?
- Read More: URJ.ORG publishes a reading list.
- Learn to Cook: The Shiksa in the Kitchen converted to Judaism and found her spirit in the Jewish food
- Talk to Someone: Check out the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Jewish Community Resources in your hometown.
Do you have a question or resource not covered here? Let us know in the comments section below – we’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.
This piece was published in it’s original format on OneWed.com