Christmas · Israel · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · rabbi · religion

Don’t marry non-Jews or converts!

Rabbi who? what? where? and why?
A soundbite from “Mixed-married couples and interfaith couples are a fact of Diaspora Jewish life”:

“That a Jew chooses to marry someone who is not Jewish, even if a conversion takes place, is a clear indication that the Jew already has one foot out the Jewish door.”

Yeah, that’s about when I wanted to start brawling.

As a convert, sure I know that behind my back people think and say certain things about marrying converts. I remember reading an article where a Jewish mother-in-law said of her newly converted Jewish daughter-in-law, “I still wish my son had married a Jew. But that wasn’t meant to be.” Excuse me, did your daughter-in-law convert? Yeah. So she’s Jewish. It’s really that simple…though not so simple to the simple-minded clearly.
Interfaith marriage: a marriage between people of two different faiths.
Mixed marriage: According to David Forman, who wrote the awful quote above, “A mixed-marriage is one in which the non-Jewish partner converts to Judaism.” This bit stirred quite an uproar in the comments section for this article where people noted a marriage between a born Jew and a converted Jew is a Jewish marriage, there’s nothing mixed about it.
In fact, Daniel Forman doesn’t seem to think there’s any difference between a mixed marriage and an interfaith marriage and for the record, he’s opposed to both. He doesn’t want converts marrying Jews and he certainly doesn’t want non-Jews marrying Jews for after all, he writes:
“Are we to believe that acknowledging the non-Jewish ancestry of either the converted Jew or the non-Jew will have no impact on the child of such a marriage?”

Is he afraid that if I feed my kids plaintains and take them to the Dominican Republic, they won’t want to be Jewish? Maybe. 

Forman is afraid if Mami tells little Menachem that she celebrated Christmas but didn’t like it as much as Chanukkah, Menachem will want to go to church instead of synagogue. But don’t worry Forman came up with a four step plan in case your children marry non-Jews…or converts, eh, what’s the difference? Isn’t that nice of him?

This article made me wish I was in anger management classes. Mostly, I wanted to print this article put it on a wall and then take a Nerf bat to it. Do they still make Nerf bats? The amazing gall of how this guy treats converts. Oh and get this, he’s a rabbi who is apparently all for human rights but not rights for converts. I mean, it’s not like we’re human…or according to him, even Jewish.
And that’s just what the world needs more rabbis treating converts like that stuff that gets stuck to your shoe on a New York City subway platform. Sorry, did I get that sarcasm on your shoe too?
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24 thoughts on “Don’t marry non-Jews or converts!

  1. while some interesting points were made in that article, one MAJOR Halachah he completed ignores is that converts are accepted period. They are Jews by Choice and respected.

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  2. I don't know who this rabbi is but whatever it is he is saying violates the Torah. If someone is converted then they are Jewish, period and there is a mitzvah in the Torah, not a chumra, to love the Ger. Just because one out to lunch rabbi said some out to lunch stuff, is no need to buy a plane ticket back to the Domican Republic. Every society has its loony fringe. I suppose that he is ours. Best BTW our rabbi comes from big time Yichus, he is the son and nephew of some rabbinical all stars and guess what, his wife is a convert.

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  3. Having converted close to 30 years ago I continue to get depressed when these so-called “Rabbis” saying things like this. What tzierlchana said is right, that he is failing what I will call basic Torah understanding.

    The sad thing is that my mother in law felt the same way about me and my father in law had questions about me. The irony with my father in law is that I am the only one of his sons in law that he will talk in learning to.

    So yeah, this rabbi is out of his bloody mind and I have gone through some of this bias myself and it is no fun at all.

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  4. The author of the article above is is a leader in the Reform movement. I think he is subconsciously acknowledging that Reform “conversion” does not fulfill the Torah requirements of conversion. A convert must know, understand, and accept upon him/herself all of the mitzvot. Since liberal groups don't come anywhere close to that, born-Jews in liberal sects have a gut feeling that their new son/daughter-in-law isn't really a Jew. (which is correct)

    However – anyone who wants to accept all of the mitzvot, even if he/she has already “converted” improperly, should seek out a halachically compotent rabbi. Any true convert is welcomed with open arms into the Torah observant community.

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  5. You just have to take it from where it comes. 'Rabbi' Forman is a space cadet of long standing. The worst thing Jews did was to not legally protect the credential of 'Rabbi'. It is unbelievable who gets to use the title these days. Forman often writes in the Jerusalem Post, and the last time he came to my notice was in proposing that Reform Judaism be considered a separate religion from Orthodoxy. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1235410724103&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

    He was right!

    We are very proud of you. I will visit again.

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  6. He's reform, they all have one foot out the door.

    JOKING!

    I really don't take him seriously. As I've stated here before, EVERYONE wants to marry me off to a nice Jewish girl.

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  7. Aliza,

    I think he was discussing converts for marriage in the Reform camp. I don't think that rationalizes what he says anymore than your interpretation, but it does give you perspective. His insights are very typical of what I've experienced in the movement myself.

    Lamentably, I have met converts in the liberal movements who do things that jeopardize the development of a strong Jewish identity in children. Celebrating Christmas with the folks is one example. Converting and never practicing is another.

    Maybe if the Reform movement actually added legs to their conversion this wouldn't be a problem.

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  8. Let's set it straight about Reform conversion. I had one and am quite pleased with the experience. The rabbi holds you to very high standards. Perhaps it varies from rabbi to rabbi, but I don't consider the process I went through “watered down” by any means. I attend services weekly, celebrate the holidays, maintain a Jewish home, etc. If someone wants to argue with that, in addition to my truest sincerity of becoming and living my daily life as a Jew, be my guest.
    The reason why many in the Reform movement talk about who is and who is not a Jew, is because many of the born Jews hardly practice Judaism themselves (or as my rabbi has called it, “Judaism Lite”). They attend services a few times a year, and always to High Holy Days and that's it. Many have no idea what converts experience or the process they go through and when you explain it to them, they always acknowledge or so, “Wow, I couldn't have done that…”

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  9. Yeah he's a reform rabbi. Enough said. Everyone above me said it.

    I guess I have very little respect for reform conversion. Torah-true halachic conversion I have all the respect in the world for. Half of my community converted

    But my father converted reform. I'm sorry at the end of the day it's not a big commitment. It's no bigger of a commitment than converting to christianity and being Jewish is a huge commitment. My father converted, learned a little Hebrew, went to synagogue sometimes. Told me he believed in G-d on some level but not the G-d in the Torah that performs miracles and now is married to a Lutheran woman, goes to church with her and says he's still Jewish?

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  10. As you know, the Reform movement's acceptance of interfaith marriage has actually created a historically unique opportunity for people to convert to Judaism after they are married without any coercion. So I don't think the fact that this is a Reform rabbi is germane to this.

    This guy's just getting down with the latest trends in sinat chinam. Why should haredim have all the fun of committing major sins d'oreita?

    It's also kind of upsetting for people to still believe that Jews marry non-Jews because of a negative attitude toward Judaism. Perhaps this was true at one time, but I don't think it's true now. People marry for love. If you don't shove them out the door, those interfaith families can stay in the Jewish community and build it.

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  11. I don't think anyone here is advocating throwing interfaith couples out of the community, except for the rabbi. I personally love the fact rabbi means “teacher” because this rav definitely isn't a good one.

    The issues with liberal conversions aren't moot. There are rabbis with fastidious standards, and there are rabbis that will convert anyone for a sum fee. I appreciate the former category and disdain the later. While the Orthodox community is attempting to remove these rabbis from performing conversions, the Reform, Reconstructionist, and Conservative movements are not doing their jobs. The bad apples are making all liberal conversions suspect.

    We owe it to everyone to develop a codified standard on conversion.

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  12. Re: Sarah T, who left no forwarding information: It's nice that you go to services every week (I assume you mean on Friday night). How do you get to Temple? By car?

    Driving a car on shabbat violates several of the 39 categories of activity prohibited on shabbat.

    Any person who “converts” without knowing and following Jewish law is not a convert.

    It's not your fault, Sarah T. You sound like a sincere and spiritual person who has tried to find a place within Judaism.

    Unfortunately, the liberal Jewish groups out there are much more interested in blending in with the Gentiles than actually teaching halacha (Jewish law).

    Those are born to a Jewish mother and don't know their obligations are Jews, albeit ill-informed Jews.

    Those that aren't… can become Jews the same way that every other Gentile became a Jew from the time of Mount Sinai until about 1850. Learn the law, accept the law upon yourself, go before a compotent beit din (Jewish court panel), and then go to mikvah. Any step skipped in between does not a conversion make.

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  13. I met a Dutch woman who was converting to Torah Judaism who had left her husband and her children to live in a Jewish community to convert. She had been converting for 3 years and was going to finish in five. She learned everything and you couldn’t tell she was a convert. Now I also met a person who had converted because they fell in love with a Jew and their conversion was less then 2 years. They are still in contact with their gentile family who are ardent Catholics and they really didn’t give up anything of great value to become Jewish etc…

    Now on paper I would have to say the first convert is more likely to be accepted as a Jew then the second. Judging what the person gave up and the fact that she was not marring any Jew eliminates the possibility that there was any ulterior motive. Does that mean the second person had an ulterior motive or wouldn’t have given up something of value if she had been in a similar situation? No.. But whether we like it or not people judge one another based on a certain criteria, that criteria of course is different for different people and movements etc… However the point is that the more someone overcomes and the more someone invests in something the greater the respect and acceptance this person merits. And it removes any doubt that this person wasn’t sincere or genuine. Furthermore, it raises the standards of all Jews.

    Lets apply a similar scenario to two Doctors. Doctor A went to John Hopkins and Doctor B went to generic college. Doctor A finished in the top 5% of their class and Doctor B finished near the bottom 5%. Both are doctors but who is preferred? How many of you who disagree with higher conversion standards would want Doctor B operating on them?
    Who is more respected by their colleagues? Who gives lectures and is considered an expert in their field? Etc… I think my point is made.

    If Jews are like the spiritual doctors (a nation of priests) of the world then why do we want to lower the standards? The point of Judaism is to raise our level of holiness, by which we raise the worlds holiness to a level meriting Gds redemption… 😉 Do we want a lot of Doctor B’s or do we want Doctor A’s?

    We want Doctors A’s because we raise our standards so that the entire Jewish people and the world benefits! And during this horrible plague upon the Jewish people where everyone wants to be Jewish and there is a great deal of assimilation we need to be certain that there is no doubt that there intent is pure. So due to the aforementioned extemporaneous circumstance unfortunately for converts the House of Shammai conversion halacha rules today.

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  14. And quite frankly I dont understand why so many people are surprised. Judaism is a very exclusive religion. yes I know tikkun olam and diversity yaddah yaddah yaddah. But what you hear in the reform circles and in Israel is a fairly new tikkun olam definition. In Torah Judaism tikkun olam means repairing the world through Torah and mitzvahs while in other circles mentioned it means cultural liberalism and western diversity.

    Kashrus Laws, Niddah, Tznius, Havdalah, Shatznetz ete, the list goes on and on and its all about separation and exclusivity. So why are people surprised when leading and I mean LEADING Halachic authorities set higher standards for conversion? And even more so it’s not confined to Ashkenazi Chassidic circles, no it encompasses the breadth of Torah Judaism into Sephardic circles as well.

    What converts don’t understand when they are converting is that you were considered equal in the goyish society, your opinion and your vote cast carries the same weight as anyone else. But in Torah circles your opinion matters least and carries the least worth.
    I know you cant believe I just said that but in Torah Judaism what matters most is das Torah first and yichus second. So imagine if you are a convert you just joined the Jewish people. You may be 24 or 56 or whatever your age, but in das Torah age you are 1 year old. Now yes I know you are going to say but what about the halachic Jews who don’t know Torah. Well they are considered am haaretz and your opinion outweighs theirs.

    We just finished parshas korach and did anyone pick up on the fact that Korach was looking to have a little democracy? Unfortunately whether we like it or not we suffer for our ancestors decisions. Just as when we are born we inherit our parent’s wealth or lack of, so too do we inherit our parent’s yichus. Remember Korach was a Levite who couldn’t get over that he wasn’t given the same privileges as Aaron because of yichus.
    After all in Egypt he was higher then Aaron, just like a convert might be held in great esteem in the goyisha world.

    A little elaboration: In the reform movement there are no special privileges for a Kohen or a Levite when being called to the bimah for an aliya. In Orthodoxy we see differently and after both are called up in succession an Israelite who is celebrating a simcha will merit the privilege. Now we must ask ourselves is a Bnai Israel equal to a Kohen or a Levite? No they are not because they are inherently not born with the same kiddusha. ( can there kiddusha decrease/increase yes but this is another topic) They have special privileges and rights (the specifics which I don’t need to get into at this time) through yichus. And furthermore Torah states a Bais Kohen shouldn’t marry an average Israelite because there innate holiness is higher.

    How unfair right? Injustice discrimination etc… That sucks if you aren’t born of “privilege” right? Korach is starting to make a lot sense isn’t he? As the Rambam explains though the Israelite can raise their neshamah to a high enough level through das Torah that they are equal to the bais Kohen and can get married. Yippie yeah happiness! In fact some of Chazzal merited sharing in the Korbonas through marrying a Bais Kohen. And just as the Israelite raises their neshamah through das Torah so too can a convert raise theirs to a level where they are not at the bottom of the barrel. So think of das Torah as Doctor A…

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  15. In conclusion, Doctor A and the Dutch convert I mentioned earlier do not guarantee that they are both the best but it removes much doubt people inherently have. Its like having a more stringent hechkser because you know the standards are higher. But Doctor B and the other convert who married a Jew can merit the same respect and acceptance. It just requires merit through hard work. And in the case of Torah Judaism that means das Torah..

    Apologies for this long extended talkback… I had written something before and I combined the two ideas. Although I am not sure how effectively I achieved my goal. I hope it made sense to some! Though the more I step away and look at it I think it may just be incoherent babble…

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  16. You forgot to mention: don´t marry a convert because in the not very distant future an Ultra-Orthodox rabbi (and very soon an RCA rabbi) is going to come and tell you that his rabbi heard from his rabbi who heard from the rebbetzin that the rebbe hear that God said that YOUR rabbi is not really a rabbi and therefore your wife (or husband) are not really Jewish and your marriage never happened and your children might be not Jewish (or in the best of cases they are Mudbloods and therefore unmarriable to any self-respecting Slytherin family), thus adding to never-ending cycle of the Jewish people “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to increase Chillul Hashem and Onnat Gerim both on Eretz Hakkodesh and in Chutz laaretz… (pant, pant, pant)

    I would say you have hit a nerve.

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  17. Am I the only one who finds the term “Torah Judaism” unashamedly condescending and self-righteous?

    Recommended alternatives, depending on context: Orthodox Judaism. Ultra-orthodox Judaism. Charedi Judaism. Halachic Judaism. Orthodox Halachic Judaism, Historic Jewish Practice, Traditional Jewish Practice.

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  18. Out of all the options you presented Alan I find Torah Judaism the most accurate and the least misleading and offensive.

    Before the mid 1800's there was no such thing as Orthodox Judaism. There was Judaism.

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  19. I have found people who go through conversion to be sort of like immigrants who become US Citizens…they often know more than those who are 'native born' because of the intensity of study and learning that goes into the conversion!

    For me, marrying someone of another faith and culture has actually strengthened and reconnected me to my Judaism, as we raise our child Jewish.

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