February 16, 2015 7:25 pm at 7:25 pm #614890
Here is a quick overview of my situation: like many children of intermarriage, I was raised in a secular household which celebrated a mishmash of holidays without any particular religious meaning or connotation, including Pesach and Chanukah. I never went to synagogue more than a handful of times (usually Reform or Reconstructionist) and was never exposed to traditional Judaism until well into my adulthood. Even so, I have felt a spiritual longing for most of my life, which rather awkwardly co-exists with my secular programming that religious beliefs are unfounded superstition (the later of which I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with). I constantly feel like I am the host of an internal wrestling match between the years of my secular doubts and my sincere, fervent desire to believe.
I am fortunate to live in a big enough city where there is a sizable community and many opportunities to learn and possibly convert, if I decided it was the right path. I feel spiritually restless and some days want to jump in with both feet, but I keep holding myself back. I have many fears, as conversion would involve leaping out of my comfort zone and radically changing my lifestyle. My biggest fear, however, is that I am just a couple years away from 30, and that it would be too late for me to ultimately find a desirable and compatible partner to build a Jewish home and family with, once my conversion was complete.
I am sad and regretful that I didn’t have this desire to seriously reconnect to my Jewish roots a few years ago and that it took approaching 30 for me to consider how I want to live the rest of my life and acknowledge my desire for faith. Anyway… if anyone could offer their two cents on what the dating scene is like for converts or people who become religious later in life, and whether or not my situation is entirely hopeless, I would be very appreciative. 🙂
Also, on a personal note, I wanted to thank you for all you are doing to keep Jewishness alive in the world through your mitzvot. I have really been emotionally affected by the recent acts of anti-Semitism in Europe and I understand now more than ever how important it is that the Jewish faith and people endure. Your lifestyle takes incredible sacrifice and commitment and I extend the deepest respect to you all.February 17, 2015 1:20 am at 1:20 am #1060420
Whoa, ALMOST thirty… wow, so you’re just about to start life. Too late for what?
I don’t have any experience on this matter, just my own feeling that one can be much more sincere at this age than earlier.
(and just in case you make the jump… WELCOME BROTHER!!!)February 17, 2015 3:45 am at 3:45 am #1060422
You are hardly over the hill. There are many people who choose to become Jews later in life, and plenty of Jews marry later in life, due to various circumstances beyond thier control. If you pursue this road (and it will not be easy; the outside world really HATES us), then after making that decision, find a good rabbi in whom you can place your trust, and learn. Don’t rush. My advice to you is to seek out similarly inclined people, after you have completed your process. They are the ones who will most understand what this journey means to you. Whatever your choice may be, much success to you.February 17, 2015 3:52 am at 3:52 am #1060423
It’s so great that you’re contemplating this, that it makes me want to paint a rosy picture. But let me be frank with you. If the thought of having a hard time finding a match following conversion causes you to question if it’s a good idea, then it may not be. Dating is unpredictable. People who have grown up in orthodox circles can have an easy time finding a mate or they can linger for years. No one can tell you if it will be hard or easy. I know women who’ve converted who found matches and women who are frum from birth who have not, as yet. There may be fewer opportunities, but then you only need one (the right one). It takes a huge amount of commitment to push through the challenges, which will not end with conversion and marriage. Finding the right schools for your kids, the right synagogue/shul, being accepted socially, all that can be fraught with difficulty. You must desire it so deep in your bones that nothing can allow you to sway. Because there will be so many things that will challenge you to do so, so often.February 17, 2015 4:04 am at 4:04 am #1060424
a couple of years away from 30.. that means you’re in your 20’s. I think you’re amazing for knowing what you want in your life at this age. People in their 40’s and 50’s and 60’s are still trying to figure it out!
no way are you too late!!February 17, 2015 4:37 am at 4:37 am #1060425
You want to become fully Jewish and connect to everything that that’s about. The main fundamental aspect of Judaism is that Hashem, God, runs the entire world with exact divine providence. That means there is really no such thing as a shidduch crisis, or your “Chances” to find someone, or “late to the party” etc. If your going to buy into this thing called Judaism, you turn to God with your requests and fears and tell Him these things in your own words in your own language. He is the one who has Someone for you and He will lead you to them/them to you in the right time. This is the mindset of a religious Jew (on whatever level, its basically this), and if you want in, then don’t fear these things because you can turn to Hashem in prayer and He listens and works with personal divine providence for each person to lead them where they need to go. Whatever you decide should be with a blessing. You don’t need to be Jewish to have a personal connection with Hashem and He leads all humans that ask for it with divine providence. But a Jew lives his life based on this and a Jew gambles on Hashem and does things and leaps into the unknown trusting that Hashem will catch him. And when Hashem does catch him its oh, so sweet. That’s what its all about, so if you want it, them say a prayer, have no fear, and jump.February 17, 2015 5:14 am at 5:14 am #1060426
I think I have just the girl for you! (If you are female; the boy).
Honestly however, this question can be solved with a quick call to a matchmaker. They will give you the odds in fifty seconds.February 17, 2015 6:54 am at 6:54 am #1060427
Thank you all so much for your responses. I am truly grateful and humbled that each of you took the time to read about my situation and give your honest advice. Your encouragement has renewed my faith in my spiritual exploration at this stage in my life.
I suppose I should also mention I am a woman, which is probably why shidduch is a particular concern (from the religious friends I have spoken to, I understand that there are significantly more single women than men in the religious world). I have many other fears, such as estrangement from my secular family, who I am very close to (and who sadly have a very “typical” secular opinion of Orthodox Judaism), but that’s a whole other can of worms. I think perhaps all these worries are creating walls around me, and that is why I am unable to cultivate a strong enough faith to move forward.
In spite of it all, however, I do feel a growing desire to become a true bat Yisrael and return to something that I feel was lost to me. I still remember how awestruck I was when I attended my first Orthodox kabbalat shabbat, and I saw people so connected, so fully immersed in their joy of G-d that they were literally shaking (or ‘shucking’, as my religious friends later told me it was called :-P). I still remember wondering what it must feel like to experience this tremendous, indomitable faith. I think it I had it, matters like shidduch and schools and family quarrels and any other future challenges I’d face would seem trivial in comparison.
When I was in Israel I met some non-Jews who were converting insincerely, just so they could marry their Jewish Israeli boyfriends or girlfriends, without any real faith or plans to live an observant Jewish life afterwards. That is just not me – I could never go ahead with something as massive as conversion if I wasn’t prepared to leap in with both feet and real, genuine faith.
I have tried speaking to G-d lately, which is completely new thing for me. I don’t speak Hebrew or even know how to pray properly. In truth, I don’t really know how to faith at all. Maybe as I learn more about the teachings, faith will follow. In the mean time, I have derived some comfort from this quote from Psalm 119:18, which I find myself turning to again and again:
“Open my eyes, that I may see the wonders of Your Torah.”
Thank you all so much again for your replies, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate them. 🙂
Lila tov!February 17, 2015 1:49 pm at 1:49 pm #1060428
First off, I’d express my amazement that you managed to see ‘their passion, their faith, their values and their fierce devotion to an ancient tradition’ in an age which the true face of Torah Jewry is so rarely manifest. This reflects the ‘Ayin Tova’ which you apparently are blessed with.
From your words it is also apparent a number of other great traits which make me believe that you are as good a candidate as ever for conversion. These, coupled with your [legitimate, as you have authentic Jewish blood running through your veins (this on the authority of Halachic giants such as R Y.S. Elyashiv o.b.m.)] feeling of connection should help smooth the transition.
If my intuition is correct, you have it in you to succeed in adapting real fast, and will be ready for shidduchim in short order.
Thirty is not that old these days days, but fortify yourself and be prepared for some very hurtful encounters along the journey. This applies for almost everyone in shidduchim, all the more so for newcomers to our insular community.
All said, I encourage you to go for it! May you merit to feel the Divine Countenance in all your endeavors.February 17, 2015 2:26 pm at 2:26 pm #1060429
I have tried speaking to G-d lately, which is completely new thing for me. I don’t speak Hebrew or even know how to pray properly”
Though it helps, you do not need to know Hebrew, in order to be able to pray properly. Anyone can verbally and in one’s heart acknowledge the Greatness of our Creator Who is the Source of everything we have in this world. Anyone can then pour out his heart to Hashem, to plead for the things he or she needs. And anyone can then THANK Hashem for everything He always does for us on a daily basis 24/7, and for that which we hope He will do. That is the essence of prayer/tefila. If you examine the Shemona Esrai prayer that we say three times a day each day, and once extra on Shabbos, that is exactly how the tefila is structured, praise to Hashem, our pleas to Him, followed by our sincere expressions of gratitude for all He does. For now, even as a non-Jew, that is the easiest way to pray. Hashem understands EVERY language, so don’t be put off by not yet speaking any Hebrew.February 17, 2015 6:18 pm at 6:18 pm #1060430
Check out Aish.com. It’s a website created for the express purpose of helping amazing, growth oriented people like you.February 17, 2015 7:42 pm at 7:42 pm #1060431
I was very moved when I first read this post yesterday. But I am upset by the responses, for the same reason that I didn’t post any response myself yesterday. We are discussing the possible conversion of a halachically non-jew, not the kiruv of a non-religious jew (a la Aish). This is very serious and should be addressed by specially trained rabbis, not us. If Y4L has reservations due to her close relationship to her blood family, or based on her ability to find a shidduch, these are legitimate concerns which any normal warm hearted person would understand, but may be sufficient to convince her NOT to convert. After all, my understanding is that we are not looking for converts, but should try to dissuade them. My heart goes out to Y4L, but I think if she has these very legitimate concerns and reservations, then she should not convert but keep the 7 Noahide laws. I think the support and encouragement she is getting by the other posters may be halachically wrong. Just a non-rabbi’s opinion.February 17, 2015 9:09 pm at 9:09 pm #1060432
You don’t have to be Jewish to address your yearning for spirituality. Hashem rules over the entire world, whether you are Jewish or not. Why not just keep the 7 laws of B’nei Noach and not worry about offending your family? They even have a whole community of b’nei noach somewhere in Texas that you could join and probably find someone to marry. If you become Jewish, it’s not all gonna just fall into place. We’re required to always grow and you will be tested to help you achieve this growth your entire life. That is true both to converts and to Jews from birth. You’re not Jewish. You don’t have to become Jewish. Make sure that you really want it before you do it, because there’s no backing out later.February 18, 2015 12:14 am at 12:14 am #1060433
it’s ironic. I originally began posting a whole thing about 7 Noahide Laws, and being a really good non-Jew who follows those laws and the lack of necessity for converting in order to achieve spiritual good. But I deleted what I typed before I hit “send post,” as I was afraid of how my words might be interpreted. I’m glad someone else thought of it.February 18, 2015 12:30 am at 12:30 am #1060434
Thanks hakohen53 for your contribution. I understand that Judaism does not encourage conversion, I’m just trying to find out as much information as I can, so I can realistically assess whether or not this is something I should pursue.
I have heard of Aish and in fact know many Jews who became religious through this organization (less through Chabad, but I know a couple of them as well). Through their materials, I’ve read about intermarriage and how subsequent generations will be lost to Judaism. I identify with these “lost Jews”, or people who should have been Jewish but aren’t because of their family circumstance. And a growing part of me wants desperately to “return” (although I guess that would be more of a baal tehuva term), I just presently lack the strength in emunah to do so (and also information – I am just trying to learn all I can and hold off making any decisions for the time being).
I guess I’m in a bit of a weird place because halachically, obviously, I’m not or would never be considered a baal teshuva, but because I grew up with such a strong Jewish enthocultural presence in my home, I don’t really identify with converts either.
It would be interesting to learn how many converts come from a partial Jewish background because I think this puts us in a unique situation (not any better or worse than other converts, just different). Also, a lot of situations I’ve heard of baal teshuvas struggling with, i.e. their non-religious families being defensive about not keeping kosher, are very familiar to me. Where some converts without any prior connection to Judaism have a divine experience or are spiritual seekers, my Jewish roots have played a strong part in my growing desire to pursue conversion, because I feel like, in spite of all my fears and doubts, a Jew is who I am at my core.
In any case, I know it’s a complicated issue that I don’t expect to resolve right away. I very much appreciate your kind wishes and feedback. Many thanks to everyone else as well. 🙂February 19, 2015 6:12 pm at 6:12 pm #1060435
I just wanted to thank everyone so much again for all your feedback, encouragement, discouragement, guidance and – to each and every poster – genuine kindness that has truly meant the world during this very confusing and conflicting time. I certainly have a lot to think about! 🙂
I’ve decided “not to decide” for now, to just learn all I can and trust that I will end up where I’m meant to be.
Thank you all so much again. I was initially very hesitant about posting here but you have ALL been so generous with your time and feedback. I wish you all a beautiful Sabbath and, whether I convert or not, will continue to respect and appreciate all you are doing to keep Jewishness alive in the world with your mitzvot.
Kol hakavod – my deepest respect.February 19, 2015 6:53 pm at 6:53 pm #1060436
Wishing you much success in making the right decision!February 19, 2015 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #1060437
I wish that your yearning for learning should never subside and, with all my heart, I pray that Hashem gives you the strength and insight to make the right decision for your neshama.
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