culture/multiculturalism · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · news · rabbi · race/racism · women/feminism

She’s a rabbi!

Alysa Stanton

I spotted Rabbinical Student on her way to make history on someone else’s blog. It profiles convert Alysa Stanton who had an Orthodox conversion but found herself more at home in Reform Judaism. “[A Reform congregation] tends to be more welcoming to those who are not born Jewish,” the blogpost quotes. Stanton is on her way to becoming the first female African-American rabbi in the United States.

14 thoughts on “She’s a rabbi!

  1. Before, I state my comment let me just give some details on my background. I am a convert and a black woman. I had a giur l’chumra through an Orthodox Beis Din in Monsey and currently live in an Orthodox “out-of-town” community.Yiddishkite, l’havdil, unlike Christianity does not have denominations. Reform/Conservative etc. are not valid approaches to Torah or Torah life. And women are not Rabbis.Unfortunately, I am no stranger to the challenges that my brown skin presents in some parts of the Orthodox world. But, I always try to keep in mind the advice the Av Beis Din gave me after my conversion. And that is, one can hardly go a parasha in the Torah without something pertaining to being nice to a ger being mentioned. People may nebach, behave otherwise, but this isn’t Torah.We, Yidden say Krias Shema 3 (some 4) times a day. And each time we say it we affirm that Hakodosh Baruch Hu runs the world. And that means both the good and the bad all have ONE Source. And since all reality has only ONE Source that means Hashem Yisborach, in His Infinite wisdom and Infinite chesed, tailor makes each and every nisayon. Please don’t misunderstand me, racism is ugly, vile treif and has absolutely no place in our world. But, we have a clear responsibility to be m’kabel the nisayon with emuna. And that means trusting in the Ribbono shel Olam and upholding His Torah and all it stands for. And that means, being an Ehrlicher Yid to the best of ones abilities. We may have unique challenges, but that just means we have a unique opportunity to serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu with fortified emuna and a courageous heart. Am Yisrael is one giant neshama. And as we know, what each Jew does affects every other Jew. So my advice, as to how to deal with ignorance, (and how I personally try to deal with it) is to focus on fixing one’s own smallness and closed-mindedness. The best way to change others is to change oneself. All the big tzadikim always took seeing the aveiros/shortcomings of others as a personal mussar message. If we all worried more about how Hakadosh Baruch Hu sees us and less about how others see us we could mamish bring Moshiach and be out of this galus and all of this mess. All the racial stuff is so silly, so small, and so petty, what a pity and a shame that we are even osek in talking about it. Its a product of galus, of the influence of the outside world. Torahdike people only see neshamas. And that is all the Borei Olam sees as well.All this talk/discussion/analysis, can destroy ones emuna, chas v’shalom. You can get so wrapped up in what this or that one is doing/saying, this newspaper or that article, that you can completely loose track of the tachlis. And the tachlis of why you are a Yid, and I am a Yid is Hashem Yisborach. Lets, talk about Him, lets focus on Him, lets put Him back into the picture. There is much to do, lets not waste precious time being distracted with foolishness.Bracha v’hatzlacha.

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  2. To Anonymous:is it REALLY necessary to write as if you were an Ashkenazi by birth, and more than this, one that speaks Yiddish from birth ?? I am also a convert-to-be; I very consciously chose a Conservative giyur; I speak Yiddish. But don´t you think the way you are writing can seem very pretentious to many people ?Just a thought.Yaakov-Meir

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  3. Yaakov-Meir, Thanks for the comment. Its not pretentious at all for me to write the way I speak. I speak like this all the time, its not an act. I live in an Askenazi community, the people around me speak this way. Its one of many types of Jewish speak. If I were Sephardi, then my speech would be peppered with Lashon Hakodesh and Arabic instead of Yiddish. If someone finds it pretentious, I think they should address the chip on their shoulder. My speech has nothing to do with being a FFB or a FFB wannabe, I’m a Jew so I speak like a Jew. Is my friend who recently married a Sephardi, pretentious for no longer using a Sav and only using a Tav? There are many thoughts, sentiments, and subtleties when speaking of things in kedusha that can’t be conveyed in translation. Language is a very important and strong part of culture, and enables us to convey our essence. And Lashon Hakodesh (and Yiddish has special kedusha as well) allows me to convey my essence in the purest way.

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  4. Dear Anonymous,I have to disagree with one of the things you wrote: “I speak like a Jew”. I know many Jews – Orthodox ones – that do not speak like you. I know rabbis that do not speak like you. And before all – they don´t write like you. Please try to understand that not everyone that converts to Judaism will become charedi. And that it is not up to you to say “that Reform/Conservative are not valid approaches to Torah”. Have you come to this conclusion by yourself ? If yes, great ! Gut shabbesYaakov-Meir

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  5. I agree with Yaakov; I could <>understand<> what you were saying, but most who are not in the charedi world would not. Isn’t the goal of writing to communicate effectively and to do that you can’t be oblivious as to who your audiece is! 😉

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  6. Yaakov Meir, I think its an obvious point that every Jew doesn’t speak like me and even alluded to that in my response. I also stated that how I speak is a Jewish way of speaking and not “the” Jewish of speaking. But, why do you care so much? A person can be a Jew and speak this way and still be a Jew and not speak this way. We all decide how to express ourselves. And, of course I understand that not everyone has to be charedi. There many valid and beautiful approaches living a Jewish life, within a halachic framework. A person can be Modern Orthodox or Charedi and any place in between, and we all must keep the same Shulchan Aruch, and the same halachas as stated in the Torah. And my statement about Reform/Conservative, is the truth. As Jews we are not allowed to change even ONE halacha in the Torah. We ALL have to keep ALL 613 mitzvos, whether we like them or not, agree with them or not, find them convenient or not. As Jews we serve Hashem Yisborach on His terms, and not on ones that we make up ourselves.

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  7. Miss S. Thanks for your comment as well. I was trying to alienate anyone with my word choice. Its a fair point, that I hadn’t realized mainly, because I don’t think of my speech pattern as being charedi. I know lost of different types of Jews who speak this way. I guess when you get used to a certain speech pattern you sometimes forget to augment, in order to be heard a little. Hopefully my thoughts didn’t get lost in translation.Thanks again.

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  8. Hi Anonymous,what Miss S. said is exactly what I mean – I do believe one has to adapt the language one uses depending on the environment it is being used, and on the audience (or readership).On Reform, my personal opinion is that they go too far.On the Conservative movement, which is also not unified – like “Orthodoxy” isn´t as well, you do have a different situation. And I agree that you can´t change halachah, but in my humble opinion (which is based on really learned people´s opinion, and own reflection), what is being tried is to ADAPT Halachah to modern life, not to reject Halachah.I, from my part, do see myself somewhere on the Conservative “right” and I am also interested in Modern Orthodoxy. But I have come to the conclusion that the requirements from “standard” Orthodoxy (not to speak of the chareidi world) on conversion are simply not justifiable based on history AND on halachah.I believe in Torah min haShamayim LITERALLY. But I don´t believe that you have to live isolated and not look around. Rambam did it – and for this, he was maligned during his lifetime by many rabbonim.Gut shabbosYaakov-Meir

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  9. I can see why this woman would want to change outlooks. I too am a person that wants to convert, but as a woman of color, I worry about “fitting in” in the Orthodox world. So I am still deciding between Orthodoxy & Conservative (leaning towards Conseervadox).

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  10. Anonymous, I know many of people of color who have converted to Orthodox Judaism and find no trouble fitting in. You should convert one way or the other because you believe in the principles of the movement. If you’d like to explore that “dox” part, check out the link for my conversion group on the right hand side of the page.

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  11. The Torah is eternal and doesn’t need to “adapt” to modern life. I know plenty of Orthodox doctors, lawyers, etc. who don’t live “isolated” and have beautiful fully observant Torah homes, that don’t compromise an inch on halacha. Words like adapt and ideas that one needs to be with it and out in the modern world are nothing new, and are classic attempts to move away from halacha. Adapting the Torah has resulted in things like driving on shabbes. We don’t need adaptation, we just need to keep the Torah as Hashem intended. As a side point, it is certainly no coincidence that Orthodoxy is growing. One need only look at the recent studies published about the drastic differences in the birthrates between the movements. (aish.com has few) Orthodox parents can look forward to Jewish grandchildren. While Reform/Conservative are going the way of every other movement that has tried to “adapt” the Torah to justify their lifestyles. There is no future in assimilation. At the risk of sparking some type of debate here, as there is nothing to debate. I will just say best of luck in you search for truth. I hope you find it. And if all 613 mitzvos aren’t for you, a person can live a spiritual life with 7 (of Noach).

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  12. To the last “anonymous”…I am not a Noachide, I have always been more than that. My destiny is with the Jewish people, and I will do everything I can to live an observant life, including fulfilling all the mitzvot that can be fulfilled at this time. I accept them all. But yet, I will not be accepted for Orthodox conversion, because my fiancee is a secular Israeli woman (before you ask, I have wanted to convert years before even knowing of her existence). I am simply tired of double standards in the conversion issue.

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  13. Yaakov Meir, I am going to assume from your description of your fiancee as “secular” that she is not currently Torah observant. The Orthodox rabbis have refused your candidacy, and quite rightly, not because of some double standard but probably because you fail to understand the enormity of what you are getting yourself into. When a person converts to Judaism, they are making the MOST significant change a human being can make in this world. It will change their life and the life of their descendants in this world and in the next world for all of eternity. The spiritual world is causal and more real than the physical world we live in. Taking on mitzvos and keeping the Torah has tremendous spiritual consequences, and one must be fully committed. The very fact that you are considering a Conservative conversion demonstrates that you don’t understand what it is you are wanting to take on. I am not questioning your sincerity, that I can’t possibly know. But how are you going to have a Torah observant home with a wife thats not religious? How are you going to keep the mitzvos that pertain to the family life if you don’t have a partner who shares your goals? And aside from all this, (a big aside) converts aren’t allowed to date for good reason. Conversion is a long and complex journey (I know first hand). And a person really needs to be 100% sure, w/o external influence, that this is the life they want because after the mikveh there is no turning back. But think about this, the Torah prohibits one from taking a bribe. Why? The Torah says that it “blinds a person who can see and corrupts words that are just” (Parashas Mishpatim). Why are you turning to Conservative? For the same reason everyone does, you have something you want to do and don’t want to let go of, this is your bribe, and you are looking for a way to justify what it is you want. So its not Orthodoxy that has a double standard, its your bribe that is preventing you from seeing straight and from hearing the truth.

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