culture/multiculturalism · Hispanics/Latinos · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · Shabbos/Shabbat

Just Another Day @ The Shabbos Table

“So what do you do?”

“I’m a freelance writer. I also keep a blog called ‘Memoirs of a Jewminicana.'”
“A Jew-what?”
“Jewminicana. A Jewish American Dominican.”
“Oh.” Confused face. “So your father is Dominican and your mother is….” Trailing off uncomfortably.
Eye roll. “Dominican.”
Shocked face. “Oh. So, you…” Trailing off uncomfortably again
“Converted.”
Silence. 
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3 thoughts on “Just Another Day @ The Shabbos Table

  1. OK. I do realize that I have an easier time because I'm white and have a typically Ashkenazi sounding name. But I converted (a “mainstream Orthodox” conversion) in 1997. Since that time, I have come across many “jerks” and worse. But these people you keep encountering are very, very special.

    I am not trying to say, oh, conversion is all hearts and flowers. Nothing makes me madder than converts and baalei teshuvah who keep going on about how the community has “been so welcoming” (implication being, what's wrong with YOU?).

    BUT–if just to give an evenhanded picture to any prospective converts out there–I think in this case the problem is not merely orthodox closemindedness in general. I think that you are fraternizing with a lot of garden-variety non-self-actualized armchair racists and classists and ALSO with a bunch of dicks. I don't know your “friends.” But I do know their milieu. (And we do have some well-intentioned white liberal acquaintances in common, whose company I PERSONALLY would not find all that uplifting, although I do NOT mean to insult your friends.) You have to–I mean, one has to–seek out the exceptions and do your best to ignore everyone else. CLEARLY your present orbit is not letting you do that. Ditch 'em! That's the only way I've managed to remain relatively happy and relatively frum, by rejecting a lot of well-meaning people who made me feel bad about myself.

    If you aren't finding enough exceptions, give it time (years) and liberate your schedule from these JERKS. Because the exceptions ARE out there, and it's not fair to the “frum orbit,” of which I am no fan, to discount them entirely.

    I mean this in a supportive and not a patronizing way. Sometimes you just have to cut people off.

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  2. Sarah,
    I had a girl tell me, “I'm having a blast converting and you're having trouble.” Incidentally, she's Hispanic but, she ended up with a rabbi who introduced her to people who introduced her people and well, there you have it. I was having a bad string of Shabbos hosts for a while and then it got better. I'm sure Aliza will get better people eventually.

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