Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends

Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends

Anita Diamant

Language: English

Pages: 164


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"As a rabbi and a convert, I appreciate this book deeply for its sensitivity to the complex feelings of those who are exploring paths to becoming Jewish, and for the deep love of Judaism it conveys. I will give it to every interfaith couple, and recommend that they give it to their parents. It is wonderful! "
--Rachel Cowan, co-author of Mixed Blessings

In the same knowledgeable, reassuring, and respectful style that has made her one of the most admired writers of guides to Jewish practices and rituals, Anita Diamant provides advice and information that can transform the act of conversion into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Married to a convert herself, Diamant anticipates all the questions, doubts, and concerns, provides a comprehensive explanation of the rules and rituals of conversion, and offers practical guidance toward creating a Jewish identity.

Here you will learn how to choose a rabbi, a synagogue, a denomination, a Hebrew name; how to handle the difficulty of putting aside Christmas; what happens at the mikvah (the ritual bath) or at a hatafat dam brit (circumcision ritual for those already circumcised); how to find your footing in a new spiritual family that is not always well prepared to receive you; and how not to lose your bonds to your family of origin.

Sensitive, sympathetic, and insightful, Choosing a Jewish Life provides everything necessary to make conversion a joyful and spiritually meaningful experience.

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run Outreach programs and offer “Introduction to Judaism” courses, which are taught by local rabbis. (Outreach classes are also a good way to check out rabbis, who teach the courses.) Local Outreach directors or coordinators can be an excellent source of referrals, since they are familiar with area Reform rabbis—and often Conservative rabbis, too. To find a Conservative rabbi, a local chapter of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism should be able to provide you with a list of names and

the city, or make a pilgrimage to the best Jewish deli. If you’re in a strange city on Shabbat, go to services at a local synagogue.10 If you have a Jewish partner, these kinds of “extracurricular” learning-by-doing experiences can be especially important. As you study, attend synagogue services, go to concerts, experiment with religious observance, make new friends in class or at temple, you are creating shared Jewish memories. Your “firsts”—first Hanukkah candle-lighting (just the two of you),

fashions. Take, for example, the quintessentially Jewish name Esther, which is Persian in origin and shares its root with the fertility goddess, Ishtar. When the state of Israel was founded, in 1948, scores of new Hebrew names were invented and many old ones reclaimed. Your rabbi should be able to provide you with guidance, lists, even suggestions. Once you find one or two names that you especially like, you might ask the rabbi to help you find some texts about the biblical character or name

overinvolved, and “hot.” One woman, reared in a Protestant home with roots dating back to the Mayflower, recalls being stunned at the difference between the etiquette of her parents’ home and the manners displayed at her in-laws’ table: the getting up and sitting down during meals, the volume and passion of the conversation, the painstaking discussion about every dish served, the freedom to comment upon other people’s appearance and demeanor. “I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore,” she says. (Woody

even entire Jewish communities could be punished when a conversion was discovered or even suspected. After Wecelinus, a German priest, converted to Judaism and went to live with the Jews of Mainz in about 1005, all the Jews of the city were expelled. From the eleventh century comes the story of a French woman from a wealthy family who made her way to Narbonne, where she converted and married Rabbi David. But her family pursued her, and eventually her husband and children were murdered in an

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