June 4, 2012 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm #603682
For people like myself who have a Sephardi father and a non-Jewish mother and who returned to halakhic observance, we are in a bad position. On the one hand, I was raised with my dad’s minhagim (I was brought up Reform; my mother was a Reform convert), and read and daven with a Mizrahi accent. Sephardic gedolim such as R’ Benzion Uziel, zt”l (Iraqi), R’ Moshe HaCohen miDjerba zt”l (Tunisian), Rabbi Marc Angel, Hakham Isaac Sassoon, and Rav Chaim Amsalem are welcoming of the zera yisrael such as myself. Yet, the Sephardic community in Brooklyn has bound tiself by the dreaded takkanah, which wasn’t even passed to keep people like myself out, yet it does anyway. That is a shame. My point is, how can someone like me deal with this? I have a Temani last name and daven Edot haMizrach upon making teshuba. What can I do?June 4, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm #1029534
The takana is only applicable to the Syrian (SY) community; not the wider Sephardic community.June 4, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm #1029535
Your father’s Reform “minhagim” have no bearing and are meaningless.June 4, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm #1029536
Try the Manhattan Beit Din for ConversionsJune 4, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm #1029537
If the Syrian community does not accept gairim, then it’s time to join another community. Previous poster is correct: the Sephardic community is very large and varied.
Do the temanim accept gairim?
If there are so many rabbonim who are accepting, perhaps they can help you find your place/a community that’s more welcoming.June 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am #1029538
Rebdoniel: I really feel for you! sorry I am not addressing your post directly, but I just wanted to share something with you. I grew up completely secular and Jewish, but when I started to return a situation happened that cast doubts as to my mother’s Judaism and my maternal grandmother, etc. It was a real mess that was finally completely resolved without a giur, but I had to go thru A LOT of things that are too long to elaborate here. However, I kind of went through an experience that made me more sensitive than the average to geirus and what it entails. I grew up thinking I was Jewish and then oops! I am probably not or I don’t know if I really am… etc. i always loved being Jewish and completely identified with it… and it was painful to think I wasn’t. one day i was driving in the car and the tears were pouring and I was talking to Hashem and I said, “Hashem I don’t care that I am NOT jewish according to Halacha, it’s ok! I am going to become a Jew whatever it takes because that is the TRUTH”!! It was a choice that I made!
Later proof of my Jewishness was found, etc… but it was never anymore the idea that I was just born Jewish! I now made a choice to be a Jew and it was even more special to me! It is the most beautiful thing that you are doing! One Rav told me once to remember that we were all geirim once. Even if you are born a Jew, each person still has to make that choice at some point… i think…Hatzlacha Rabba to you in all! It may take time but Hashem will surely help you get there!!June 5, 2012 12:33 am at 12:33 am #1029539
If you want to convert the Vaad of Queens is considered the place to go
Even Rabbain (Like Rav Belsky) in Brooklyn tell people to go there . They are one of the few rabbinic organizations that has a Conversion communityJune 5, 2012 12:35 am at 12:35 am #1029540
There are Sephardim on the Vaad of Queens and I do belive they will convert people as Sephardim if they feel its properJune 5, 2012 12:38 am at 12:38 am #1029541
yiddishemishpacha: Can you share your details why you needed to prove your Jewishness, how you proved it and how you felt about it? It sounds very interesting.June 5, 2012 1:10 am at 1:10 am #1029542
My father’s minhagim aren’t Reform. They’re Temani, which is what he was raised with. Also, I converted already (with R’ Angel).June 5, 2012 1:23 am at 1:23 am #1029543
Why do the Syrians not accept converts?June 5, 2012 1:28 am at 1:28 am #1029544
Your father is from Yemen?June 5, 2012 2:00 am at 2:00 am #1029545
I’m confused. The other thread seemed like you were already megayer. Is the problem that you were megayer, and the sfardi community will not accept you?June 5, 2012 2:22 am at 2:22 am #1029546
rebdoniel – the syrian community is by far the largest sephardic community in brooklyn, but there ARE other sephardic communities in brooklyn as well as in other parts of the region. The above posters are correct, once you leave Brooklyn you will have even more of a variety of communities to choose from.
Zahavasdad – the Syrian community has a long standing mesorah (many, many generations) to not accept gairim into their community. That’s their minhag already.June 5, 2012 2:24 am at 2:24 am #1029547
Naysberg: i tried to make it short, but it doesn’t make sense short. Basically, I grew up very far from Yiddishkeit, very far. In other words, we identified as Jewish in Russia, but when we moved to America and lived around goim in middle america, my parents were even ok with me marrying a goy, for example, at least that is what they said (as long as he was a good person). (In Russia they would have not been happy about it– in America it no longer really mattered,the lines got really blurred)
Also, silly comments were made in jest about my mother’s side of the family because they were from Poland way back, and my father was from the Ukraine. Well, jokes should be made carefully… enough said.
Somehow for whatever reason I got into my head that possibly my mother’s side was Polish (not Jewish). My mother knew nothing about her grandmother… no pictures could be found, nothing. When i started to become observant, I asked if my grandmother was Jewish and the answer I got was ” yes, i guess she was. we never asked questions like that, what difference does it make? Blah Blah… no one could confirm if my grandmother was or was not Jewish…Not knowing anything about my great grandmother and having no records, no photos, I went to talk to someone that I thought could resolve this issue. Unfortunately I talked to someone who knew very little(that is all i want to say) and he said that of course, I need a giur. It was crazy for me. I went to a class where I was the only Jewish person and everyone else in the process of conversion. It was a major culture shock to me. Imagine, i was just becoming observant and it did not take much to freak me out at that time. My husband and I wanted to have a chuppa and everything was stalled. Finally, Boruch Hashem we went to talk to a Talmid Chochum, a world renowned posek in these matters… only we could not reach him or catch him… you know min Ha’Shamaim this escapade went on for almost a year. (that is a whole other story) Someone told us actually that people wait years to see this Rav (all nonsense)… anyway, one night my mother was going through old things and she found a photo of her grandmother with the most JEWISH name, with the most Jewish face, and in the morning my husband and I went to the Rosh Yeshiva who was to set me free. I remember him looking at the photographs and the name on the back(we had lost information about the last name as well!) with unbelievable concentration and saying ” There is no question.. these are Jewish people, there is no need for a giur safek (which was an option that we were looking at at the time. Ten years later I think of these words and I get shivers! Talk about a yeshua. We could finally go on with our lives, have a chuppah, a true jewish marriage… etc…. You can suffer in whatever situation you are in, and then in one minute it is all resolved. All my brothers and sisters should have yeshuas min hashamaim like this!
Also, if it were not for this nisayon, I would not have had the opportunity to say that no matter what, however i get there, through birth or conversion, I WILL be a Jew! Perhaps in some ways it was also a kapparah for all the years that I took my Jewishness for granted…June 5, 2012 2:29 am at 2:29 am #1029548
p.s. also, even “preparing” for my giur that was never to be, I was kind of “forced” to get my act together and take on things kind of in a hurry (sort of). Remember i wanted to have my chuppah…. etc. I think I would have taken my time if it were not for the situation described aboveJune 5, 2012 3:07 am at 3:07 am #1029549
Ir, you are wrong. The reason the Syrians stopped accepting Geirim was the danger of numerous invalid conversions which arose after they came to America in the 1920-30 (their young men would date non-Jewish girls and then try to convert them to marry them).June 5, 2012 3:45 am at 3:45 am #1029550
I think you have to stop looking at who doesn’t accept you and look at who will (and who you’d want to associate with).
You’re experiencing it on a much greater level than others, but to a certain degree we all have to stop chasing the ghosts of those who don’t or didn’t want us, and look towards those who do. This is going to become particularly relevant when it comes to shidduchim.June 5, 2012 3:50 am at 3:50 am #1029551
My problem is that I did giyur le chumra, but am Mizrahi by background. If I didn’t know what my father’s mesorah was, that would be different. My point is that I don’t know of any Sephardic communities that I could feel comfortable in, particularly in NYC, which is a shame, given my upbringing.June 5, 2012 3:53 am at 3:53 am #1029552
I feel most at home in the Modern Orthodox world, which I feel in the realm of shidduchim, is more open towards people like myself.June 5, 2012 4:13 am at 4:13 am #1029553
What’s giyur lechumra and why is that at odds with being from a mizrachi background?
Do you feel most at home in the Modern orthodox world because they’re more open towards your background or because you prefer/like/agree with the philosophy?
I wouldn’t want to see you choosing a direction merely because you think they’re the only ones that would be accepting of you.June 5, 2012 6:04 am at 6:04 am #1029554
Giyur le chumra is basically procedural giyur. For people raised as Jews but lacking halakhic status, they get an expedited giyur, which is the shita of R’ Tzvi Hirsch Kalischer, R’ Dovid Tzvi Hoffmann, R’ Uziel, R’ Amsalem, and others.
The Brooklyn Sephardic community seems to unilaterally hold by the Syrian “edict” barring all gerim from synagogue and Jewish life.
In terms of the MO community, I feel that as someone who is Zionist, who values all kinds of knowledge and learning, has an open and tolerant approach towards the non-Orthodox and Non-Jews, and who values women’s learning and leadership opportunities, the MO community best reflects these ideals. Yet, I am very frum and makpid on some humrot even.June 5, 2012 6:35 am at 6:35 am #1029555
giyoress al pi halachaMember
Unless having had a giyur lechumra somehow affects your halachic status as a Jew from birth, I don’t see how your halachic status could be questioned by anyone.
Was your giyur lechumra before or after you found the photo evidence? Does that even matter?June 5, 2012 8:13 am at 8:13 am #1029556
rebdoniel: In the world of shidduchim a young man like you would indeed be most welcome in modern orthodox circles.
I have a Sephardi husband of mixed Iraqi, Temani and Morrocan background ( a very Israeli phenomenon) and our children who proudly celebrate my husband’s traditions have found the modern orthodox world not just welcoming, but respectful and accomodating. My sons have married Ashkenazi girls who are happy to take on Sephardi customs, just as I did many years ago. My daughters have spouses who were happy to share our traditions, even holding hennas and doing their best to learn traditional songs!
There are many shades of orthodox Jews, from Modern Orthodox to Haredi, see them at my Shabbat table as my family has moved in different ways and most people behave with ahava Yisrael, those that don’t simply don’t count.
I understand why some communities are protective regarding giyurim, but see no need for a young sincere man like you to feel awkward. Keep looking till you find a welcoming community, you are certainly in a big city with lots of places to choose from! A boy like you has lots to offer especially for shidduchim, sincerity and belief that spur one to act and change one’s life are special qualities that will attract a sincere match.
I speak as a mother of daughters!June 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm #1029557
mdd – thank you for your correction. I was clearly misinformed.June 5, 2012 1:05 pm at 1:05 pm #1029558
It seems like you ideologically align with certain groups within modern orthodoxy. So why would you want to join the sephardic communities anyway?June 5, 2012 1:05 pm at 1:05 pm #1029559
rebdoniel: You sound like you’d fit right into my community! If you want to come for a Shabbos to check it out, let me know! We have a number of Sephardim in the community, and the shul has a separate Sephardic minyan as well.June 5, 2012 2:29 pm at 2:29 pm #1029560
Who needs a “Giyur Lechumra”?
And is such a person considered a born-Jew or a Ger where there is a difference in status in halacha?June 5, 2012 3:00 pm at 3:00 pm #1029561
I think the yeshivish world is more insulated. Although baalei teshuva are accepted, there is a general apprehension with the possibility of influence from the outside (except with Chabad). I think the modern world is generally less concerned about people from varying backgrounds, as long as the current committment matches theirs. There are, however, Sephardim in the modern world as much as there are Ashkenazim.
If, Brooklyn Sephardim hold by the Syrian edict, than that group will include the modern Sephardim as well.
So, it leaves you with a few choices: 1) find a shul that embraces baalei teshuva and gairim and choose your place based on that, not on it being Sephardic, 2) move to an alternate area that is known to be more open and embracing, 3) ride the storm and make your own way by finding your own individual friends, schools, etc which you then make into your community.
I know a family who is facing the same challenge you are who is following the third option (paving their own path, looking to those who are accepting on a one by one basis).
It does sound like your perspective matches values in the MO world. However, there are wide ranges in levels of observance. There are people who call themselves modern who are not as careful with mitzvos( tznius, kashrus (they’ll eat salads in treif restaurants), negiya, etc). There are also people who call themselves modern (because of their openness to secular study, their willingness to interact with the world at large) yet are equally as machmir on shmiras hamitzvos as those in more traditionally right wing circles (careful with tznius, taharas hamishpacha, kashrus, and may not only set aside time for learning, but might learn in kollel after marrying).
It could be confusing navigating the modern circles when you’re seeking your place. There are so many shades of grey (women who love learning Torah and choose to become rabbis, women’s davening group, where they not only daven together, but actually have women layning). These are just some nuances to be aware of. The more you know yourself and your values (in detail) the better you’ll be able to find your place.
I understand that it’s incredibly difficult. H’ should guide you and help you find the best place for you with much ease.June 5, 2012 3:38 pm at 3:38 pm #1029562
rebdoniel said “Also, I converted already (with R’ Angel). “
rebdoniel said “I feel that as someone who is Zionist…”
giyoress al pi halacha said “I don’t see how your halachic status could be questioned by anyone.”
Rabbi Marc Angel’s conversions are not accepted by the RCA and consequently not accepted by the Rabbanut of Israel. Did Rabbi Angel tell you that?June 5, 2012 4:41 pm at 4:41 pm #1029563
You seem to be confusing the stories of
two different posters.June 5, 2012 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #1029564
I am Zionist, but have no plans of making aliyah. I will make aliyah when Mashiach comes. In terms of my acceptance, Rabbi Angel is unquestionably Orthodox. The RCA rejects conversions done by other Modern Orthodox rabbis and also rejects those done by Chareidi rabbonim, such as the Vaad of Queens (one of their converts was recently deported from Israel). I don’t care about being accepted by the Israeli government; I care about being accepted amongst my fellow Modern Orthodox Jews.June 5, 2012 8:10 pm at 8:10 pm #1029565
Sounds like a great place to spend Shabbos. Where? Maybe you could email me.June 5, 2012 8:43 pm at 8:43 pm #1029566
Reboniel, even parts of modern orthodoxy, such as the RCA, the flagship MO rabbinical organization, don’t recognize R. Angel’s conversions.June 5, 2012 9:03 pm at 9:03 pm #1029567
You might want to contact Rabbi Faskowitz of Yeshiva’s Madrages AdomJune 6, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am #1029568
“The RCA rejects conversions done by other Modern Orthodox rabbis and also rejects those done by Chareidi rabbonim, such as the Vaad of Queens (one of their converts was recently deported from Israel).”
The RCA, in compliance to the Rabbanut of Israel, adheres to standards and policies that exclude some MO rabbis. I don’t know about any particular case, like the Vaad of Queens. I don’t even know if they consider themselves charaidi. From what little I can tell from their web site, they are a vaad that is made of the local rabbis, not necessarily charadi.June 6, 2012 1:34 am at 1:34 am #1029569
I was addressing Giyoress in my comment about confusing two stories. It showed up later in the thread than I anticipated.
The two posters being confused were yiddishemishpacha & rebdoniel.June 6, 2012 4:05 am at 4:05 am #1029570
giyoress al pi halachaMember
MDG, you took my quote out of context. I said:
“*Unless having had a giyur lechumra somehow affects your halachic status as a Jew from birth*, I don’t see how your halachic status could be questioned by anyone.”
Reb Doniel: Does the photographic evidence prove beyond any standard that you were born a halachic Jew? If so, you’re not a ger. But having had a giyur l’chumra may bring up questions I’m not qualified to ask, never mind answer.June 6, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm #1029571
My mother had a Reform conversion undertaken to marry my father, which is mhy I had to undergo giyur.June 6, 2012 1:26 pm at 1:26 pm #1029573
That’s not a Giyur Lechumra. If your mother was never born Jewish and only converted reform, then she is not Jewish. Reform conversations do not, and never did, contain Kabbalas Ol Mitzvos and are therefore invalid.
And yes, we treat someone who underwent Giyur Lechumra as a Ger for some things. I do not believe that we allow a woman who underwent Giyur Lechumra to marry a Kohen, for example.June 6, 2012 1:33 pm at 1:33 pm #1029574
No One Mourns The WickedMember
“Your father’s Reform “minhagim” have no bearing and are meaningless.”
Well that’s not a very nice thing to say. Regardless of whether or not it may be true….obviously these are the minhagim that he grew up with and at one point cherished. To completely devalue that is pointless.
Please don’t go into kiruv.June 6, 2012 2:41 pm at 2:41 pm #1029575
Am I missing something? Is not accepting a geirim severly against Torah in a VERY big way??? How can this be without that group being seen in the light of the splintered groups 2012 years ago?June 6, 2012 3:10 pm at 3:10 pm #1029576
The reality is people do not accept Guiyum like they should.
I know quite a few Gerim and they have told me they ARE treated like a second class citizen.
Answer HONESTLY How Many people here would let their son/daughter marry a Ger.
How many here would let their Son/Daughter marry a convert from a “minority” community
Its a shame how many people would answer NO to both questions no matter how Chashuv the person really isJune 6, 2012 3:11 pm at 3:11 pm #1029577
BTGuy: That’s a serious complaint that a lot of people have against that community.June 6, 2012 5:35 pm at 5:35 pm #1029578
☕ DaasYochid ☕Participant
Am I missing something?
Yes, you missed mdd’s post. He (correctly, AFAIK) stated that the Syrian community’s “non-acceptance” of geirim was necessitated by the high number of pseudo-conversions taking place.
A ger is deemed a Jew, but communal privileges are not granted (again, AFAIK).June 6, 2012 5:49 pm at 5:49 pm #1029579
BTguy: what do you mean? How is not accepting geirim against the torah?June 6, 2012 6:24 pm at 6:24 pm #1029580
What kind of person would need to undergo a “giyur lechumra”?June 6, 2012 6:47 pm at 6:47 pm #1029581
So what do people I suggest I do?
The RCA is off-limits for me. Does anyone know of an accepted bet din I should go to for another teudat giyur?June 6, 2012 6:54 pm at 6:54 pm #1029583
I heard that the takan against gerim started in Arab countries that became French colonies. The French repealed the dhimmi laws and accepted Jews into the civil service. The Jews n turn became enamored of French culture. Rich Jews fell in love with French Goyot and tried to use their positions to pressure the rabbanim into performing pro forma “giurim”.
As to minhagim and community, a ger is free to choose so you are not bound by your father’s ancestral customs.June 6, 2012 7:56 pm at 7:56 pm #1029584
Please.,. no hatred on the Syrian (Sy) community! Being an SY myself, i know for a fact that MDD is correct and that is the reason we dont accept converts.
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