Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · prayer


At the “Taste of Limmud NY” event that I attended, I had a chance to chat it up with a Conservative convert and one of the speakers at the discussion on racism and conflict between Israeli Arab-Israeli Jews. When I was asked what kind of conversion I had, I think I shocked both parties by admitting to a “Modern Orthodox conversion.” The gobsmacked speaker said, “Wow, you went all the way.” I laughed and respond: “Yes, I pulled the lever all the way to the right.” But I noted, I could have gone farther and had a “haredi” conversion.

The Conservative convert was really sweet. We chatted it up and somehow ended up discussing feminism and Judaism. Ah, right, she was explaining why she couldn’t convert Orthodox. I nodded along but the whole time I was trying to figure out whether or not she was trying to convince me, reform me or just explaining her way of life. I piped in and said, “Well, I think it’s important that people have a conversion that they can stand by” or something to that effect.

Because I really do. I don’t think we should be converting people to movements that they don’t believe in. The feminist stuff that bugs that Conservative convert doesn’t really bug me so much. I do think that innovations like having a female Madrichat Ruchanit (spiritual leader) at our synagogue are great and women’s prayer groups are also cool. But I don’t lose any sleep over it. Along my way, I found Conservative and Reform Judaism lacking in coherent vision and in the end, their visions didn’t apply to me. Orthodox Judaism drew me in and so I converted Orthodox.

I think people should convert to something that they believe in and to something they can commit to for the rest of their lives. If only things were so simple. I know that when that same Conservative convert decides to have children, they won’t be able to marry mine. Not without a halakhic Orthodox conversion. And I guess if her children swing to the right, they will go in for those conversions. And they’ll question and come to terms with their Jewish identities. I’ve met many that have.

But I wish that things were simpler. It would seem that in the end that it’s like we’re all different religions, like the Protestant Christian that must convert to Catholicism to marry a Catholic or something like that. I guess as long as things are not simpler, I’m grateful for the conversation. I’m grateful that the Conservative convert and I have things to talk about and things to share despite the choices that divide us.

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