Where to start becoming Jewish when family roots discovered

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  • #991154

    daniela
    Member

    ready now, try to imagine how she approaches it

    She doesn’t have timers, she does not even think about a timer, even if she has the idea and thinks timers can be useful she still would not know if it’s permissible, she might not be used to sleep with the lights on, she might wake up and switch off the light and then feel bad about it and not sleep….

    #991155

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello zahavasdad, daniela, and ready now,

    Thank you for your continuing suggestions and explanations about ways to go about beginning an Orthodox life.

    zahavasdad and daniela, before my mother or I knew that she was ill, I brought up the topic of me becoming Jewish, and I had been moving towards this for some time prior to learning of her illness. My mother is not interested in going down this road to becoming an observant Jew herself — nor is anyone else in my family. My family knows what I am doing and are supportive of me. My mother and brother find our family roots to be interesting but not life-changing.

    daniela, I am not near an Orthodox synagogue, only reform and conservative, so I have not made in-person contact yet with an Orthodox rabbi. I do not live in an area with many observant Jewish people.

    I really value all of your thoughts and input — I know you have taken a lot of time to write me thoughtful replies and help me.

    #991156

    ready now
    Participant

    Thanks Daniella

    Aurora you will be saved a lot of misery if you do not go to the refom conservative places. What I wrote a few posts above is so.

    #991157

    aurora77
    Participant

    That is good to know, thank you ready now!

    #991159

    daniela
    Member

    Dear Aurora

    there is no such thing as a second-class jew. Or as the Lubavicher Rabbi (Chabad) said it, there are jews who do mitzvot (commandments), jews who do more mitzvot, jews who do even more mitzvot. You should keep that in mind, whatever you decide to do in the future.

    I think you should focus on finding a jewish spouse. I know it is difficult in a place which does not have a big community and most people are reform / conservative / unaffiliated. But if you think fast forward 30 years, this will have enormous impact on your life and shape your future.

    Have you thought of asking someone to come and help you and kasher your kitchen?

    It’s very hard to give advice about shabbos without knowing you and what you find difficult, but perhaps you can post questions, many people try to answer and give different viewpoints and suggestions, hopefully you will be able to find some little piece of advice that suits you.

    #991160

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello daniela,

    That is interesting, what you said regarding the Lubavicher Rabbi’s thoughts on the matter of Jews and mitzvoth.

    Regarding a spouse, I had assumed that that would be a difficult thing to do now, because I would think that any potential husband would want to know where I stand in many different aspects where there appear (from the discussions here) to be a wide range of views within Orthodoxy — but I don’t even know yet where I myself stand on many of the issues! Moreover, I don’t even know if I fully grasp all the relevant issues yet either. Without a doubt, it would be a wonderful blessing, comfort, and source of strength to find my other half that was meant to be — but would we recognize each other yet if we were to somehow meet very soon, when I am just diving into Orthodoxy now? I suppose these are some existential questions that one sometimes contemplates late at night.

    #991161

    ready now
    Participant

    zivugzone.com or frumster.com

    but make sure he is not taking you or your children down the refom conservative path.

    Also you may be interested to know the Lubavitcher Rebbe never said he was moshiach, nor did he allow anyone to say that about him. He was a tzaddik, but he was modest and knew the Halacha (jewish Law) principles involved. What happens in the future is still Hashems will.

    #991162

    daniela
    Member

    This question should be asked to a rabbi or anyway to someone smarter than me. But would it be helpful to put this issue aside, or would it make even more difficult for you and your other half to meet each others?

    #991163

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you ready now for those websites!

    Daniela, one non-Jewish thing is certain regarding a potential spouse…he must have a soft spot for pets! 🙂 Cleocatra approves of this idea, I can tell, because she began purring as I typed it!

    #991164

    Nechomah
    Participant

    Aurora, I agree 100% with you about figuring out who and what you are now and are going to be (which direction you’re heading) particularly in relation to Judaism before you start looking for a spouse. A lot of people on the path to returning to Judaism are looking to get married but they’re on different growth curves and this can create unnecessary conflict when there are clashes.

    I went to a special school in Yerushalayim where I was able to immerse myself in learning about Yiddishkeit almost like a man but without gemara and that kind of thing. It was a very special place. The woman in charge did not want the girls going out on dates until they had been in the school for at least a year just to see how she settled into and where she was holding. She took each situation individually all along and was very close with the girls to see what kind of boy would be suitable for her.

    Once your mother has completed her treatment, I sincerely hope that you will be able to stretch your wings and reach out to the orthodox communities that are both near and somewhat farther from you so that you can fully expose yourself to us and our lifestyle. The rewards are uncountable and very worth the effort. I don’t think you will regard changing your life. It is so fortunate for you that your family is supportive. Interestingly, in my family, both of my sisters also became involved in Yiddishkeit, even though our parents remained nonobservant. My mother was supportive of everything I did (I was the youngest and lived at home when I became religious). It was difficult for my father, I think because he felt that I was rejecting his way of doing things. They are both now no longer in this world and I hope that they both appreciate all of the things that their children have done.

    As always, hatzlacha!

    #991165

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Plenty of Orhtodox people have pets.

    Personally I think the first thing you should do is attend services and meet the Rabbi.

    I also feel its important that you attend a place where women attend as well (Most Modern Orthodox shuls women attend on Saturday mornings), You will need to meet these women and have to try to make friendships with them. Without some sort of social net it will never work.

    #991166

    repharim
    Member

    My family has 2 cats and a dog and we’ve had up to 5 animals at some point.

    #991167

    daniela
    Member

    I had the impression that aurora77 is in her late 30s, because she is an established attorney (if I recall correctly). Should she wait to seek her soulmate? possibly, but let a reputable Rabbi say so, no one of us is qualified to give this advice which potentially may be regretted for a lifetime.

    Also, there are issues beyond the observance, because her status is not completely clear, if I understood correctly, and correct me if I am wrong.

    Aurora77 maybe we look nosey with all those questions about your private life, please forgive us, we are trying to help.

    #991168

    aurora77
    Participant

    I think pets are the spice of life, repharim! 🙂 They always infuse my home with a whimsical joy and playfulness.

    zahavasdad, I am looking forward to getting to know some Orthodox women. I think I will feel less alone when I do that.

    Nechomah, it must have been awesome to study in Israel and be so close to Judaism’s roots…I hope to visit someday. I am sure that your parents must be very proud of you! I look forward to spreading my wings as well 🙂

    #991169

    ready now
    Participant

    A person can get advice over the telephone from an Orthodox Rabbi, just by ringing an Orthodox Synagogue and leaving their name and telephone number .

    Also http://www.partnersintorah.com is good.

    Checking the Kashruth guide (Kosher food guide) on the internet is good.

    It is all perfectly manageable and lots of people do it because of geographic considerations. And it feels good, really good.

    The basics of Judaism are really very simple -just a few small adjustments learned over just a few, literally a few days – not a year in a learning institution, although it can be beautiful-and one is already living as a Jew.

    #991170

    aurora77
    Participant

    I’ll have to check out that kosher food guide on line, ready now, thank you for telling me about it!

    Hi daniela, yes, I am already 35, and I am sure that there would have to be some kind of formal confirmation via records in other countries to confirm that my mother’s mother’s family is Jewish, as it appears they are.

    Regarding a love of pets, what I meant by “non-Jewish thing” is that I know that it is not a religious requirement, but I would like to find somebody who has a soft spot for them in his heart 🙂

    #991171

    daniela
    Member

    Dear Aurora

    we can chat with you and give you whatever little support we can, and we are happy to, but nobody can give you serious help on the internet, you have to contact a reputable orthodox rabbi with experience in this kind of problems, tell him the facts you know about your family, and let him sort everything out. You are in a very complex situation: first you have to prove, according to jewish law, that you are jewish (the rabbi will explain you how this can be done), then after jewishness is established there are other subtleties, which I am not sure it’s appropriate to discuss on the cofferoom nor do I feel I should dare in my ignorance to discuss. These are very delicate questions that have to be addressed by a rabbi who knows all the facts.

    I am sure you will have no problem in finding a husband who is as passionate as you are about cats: as others have said, there are many such people, even though they are not the majority, but you need only one husband.

    readynow, I grew up with a very clear sense (not perfect, but yet) of what is forbidden and what is permissible, and I have the strong impression it is the same for you, as well as for those people you mention, that they learned in a few days. One thing is a person who grew up frei and his/her parents made him/her aware of all the laws but ignored or mocked them (some laws, anyway, as there are frei yidden who risked a lot on their neighbour’s behalf), and he/she now wants to become observant, fair enough. But here, the problem is that Aurora does not know what to do. She was previously eating nonkosher meat, which is forbidden, no question. Suppose she now makes an effort and buys kosher meat and cooks it in a pot with milchig taste (not spoiled) – is this any less forbidden? or is it a *more* serious transgression? Are we helping this person, or what? And, judaism goes well beyond the kitchen. You realize that Aurora is in a very delicate job, and nobody here is qualified to comment about it and about the halachic ramifications. However, due to the fact she mentioned living in a town with conservative and reform “synagogues”, we can infer there is a significant jewish community in her town, be it unaffiliated, affiliated to non-halachic groups, or even intermarried / baptized / whatever but still jewish. This makes it very important for a rabbi to get involved and to explain what Torah law says.

    #991172

    shein
    Member

    I think many of the posters are forgetting that aurora is a gentile and thus she is not obligated to follow any Jewish law.

    Reread her original post. She found out she is jewish which is why she wants the info.

    #991173

    shein
    Member

    “Reread her original post. She found out she is jewish which is why she wants the info.”

    Unless I misread aurora, I understand her original post to indicate she is assuming that her maternal great-grandmother may be Jewish based upon certain pseudo-Jewish practices she and her grandmother performed. But that she is uncertain, for a fact, that her maternal side is in fact Jewish, per Jewish law.

    Perhaps this point can be further clarified.

    #991174

    OneOfMany
    Participant

    Yeah, you misread.

    #991175

    aurora77
    Participant

    Hello shein and everyone,

    I believe that my maternal grandmother was born and raised Jewish for part of her life, before fleeing with her mother and siblings from Germany to Brazil between the World Wars, and then coming to the U.S. about a decade later. Aside from the timing and circumstances of my relatives’ flight, other indicators to me were last names in the family tree, old family recipes that are Jewish, and some statements from my maternal grandmother that Judaism is the only true religion.

    It would have to be verified I’m sure that they were indeed Jewish (I guess through available documents in Germany and/or Brazil) so that I would know whether I have to undergo a conversion or not.

    #991176

    ready now
    Participant

    I have mentioned that it is good to contact an Orthodox Rabbi in the closest Orthodox Synagogue (even if that Synagogue is not accessible on Shabbos because of the distance).

    I am inserting here a headline form yeshivaworldhews from today:

    (Sunday, September 16th, 2012)

    Also quite a few gentiles who worked with Jewish people spoke Yiddish, so that may not be proof that a person is Jewish. An Orthodox Rabbi should be consulted.

    #991177

    ready now
    Participant

    Of course I meant to write:

    #991178

    JustHavingFun
    Participant

    Aurora77- some of the posters are giving you quite complicated suggestions. The best suggestion is contact an Orthodox rabbi. If you determine you are halachically (according to Jewish law) Jewish through a valid maternal line, you will have the same learning curve in Jewish practice as you would if you are a gentile and required to (and decide to) convert. You will have the same learning curve, in fact, as many of us who grew up non-Observant and came to Torah Judaism as an adult, so called baalei tshuvah (BTs).

    You need some good basic reading material. Two books I found helpful when I was becoming frum (Yiddish for Observant) were “To Be a Jew” by Rabbi Hayim H. Donin and “How to Run a Traditional Jewish Household” by Blu Greenberg.

    Don’t get hung up on the nitty gritty of the law and do as my Rabbi counseled: take on ONE thing at a time, ONE thing that you can commit to changing.

    And of course, the best teacher is a living human from whom you can learn the subtleties of Jewish living. It’s not all “do this and don’t do that” kinds of prescriptions and prohibitions. There’s a way of talking and interacting in the world that, unless you experience it, you won’t even realize it’s a choice and way of living. There are really people who speak and carry themselves consciously in a genteel manner, according to Torah values.

    For example, in speech, a frum person might describe someone as a “not nice” person instead of “bad,” framing things in a positive manner. Or constructive criticism with a gentle edge: I was wearing a wrap-around skirt and my rebbitzen commented that a different style would be more becoming – rather than tell me my skirt was not appropriate. To a child doing something wrong: Es passt nisht (Yiddish – that behavior doesn’t become you; meaning “you are better than that.”) You can’t get this from books.

    Learning the laws is the smaller part of the change/conversion. It is learning to THINK like a Jew that will be your life’s endeavor, leading to ACT like a Jew according to Torah. There’s a whole area of learning devoted to mussar – character development. But slowly, slowly. Take baby steps so you won’t be overwhelmed and be daunted by the amount of effort it will take. After 20 years you’ll look back and wonder how you lived any other way.

    #991179

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I knew a rabbi who was involved in conversions and the first thing he recommended was move to a torah community . For example he told a perspective convert in Oklahoma that they should move to Dallas.

    #991180

    daniela
    Member

    Dear readynow:

    regardless of how abhorrent a reform jew may be, the halacha regarding moser is in full force.

    Please also do not misuse the words of the Rishon Le Zion since I don’t recall people advising Aurora to go to the “building” the reforms use, in fact I recall posters clearly recommending not to go. In addition, the Rabbi is obviously referring to people who are definitely jewish for all halachical purposes. Aurora needs to go to a Rabbi and clarify her status, and then all decisions will be easier. Incidentally, even in the event someone were non jewish, the conduct outlined in the beginning of my post would be a very serious problem.

    A Rabbi might tell someone not to worry about dishes and cutlery, but what about pots? My humble advice to someone who wants to buy kosher meat, is not to touch anything in the kitchen for a full day (go to the restaurant) before buying kosher meat for the first time, and get a new pot for it. It’s not my place to teach, but if someone advises to cook kosher meat in the pot previously used with butter (assuming we believe it ever happened, because I have never seen a jew who was so unintelligent) that person would be some huge am haaretz and arrogant boor. That person should have answered “I do not know”.

    #991181

    ready now
    Participant

    from my previous post were precisely pertinent to the problem at hand and were a direct quote from his own mouth, so it cannot be in anyway misconstrued that his words have been misused.

    Also a person given the advice to go to a kosher restaurant would find it difficult to follow if there is no kosher restaurant around.

    BOOKS

    That is why I would not recommend the books recommended by the previous poster. (3rd one above this post)

    #991182

    daniela
    Member

    I apologize for having to spell it out, but we are taught that eating pork, a cheeseburger, and some treif beef cooked with butter, is less severe a transgression than cooking kosher meat into, say, a metal pot we put on the fire and which we used in the same way a few hours ago with dairy, then washed it with standard dishwashing liquid; and is less severe than eating vegetables which contain even one bug which would be eaten in its entirety. Your point about “mistakes with keilim” has nothing to do with this particular situation. The issue is not making sure the food is kosher, at this time. Whatever kosher meat (same with wine) the original poster may buy and cook properly and in a kosher pan, will be problematic for an observant person to eat, because of having been handled (sorry to have to spell this out too). But we are discussing a completely different point, that is to say, how to minimize the problems for the original poster, who wishes to improve her observance but at this time is not going to have someone help kasher her kitchen, nor is she going to have someone explain her the laws (and explain the basics to her family, as they have to cooperate).

    The Rishon LeZion (who, by the way, speaks about “davening” i.e. attending their “services” or whatever, while you recommend not to socialize at all with those people – which is not what the Rabbi said) is referring to observant jews who are in some remote place and would like to pray with a minyan for Rosh Hashana, and all over the town there is one minyan only and it’s at the “reform meeting-place”. The original poster is in a very different situation; the correct approach is to ask a question from a Torah scholar, explaining her situation and asking for advice.

    And, back to the main point, Aurora is in the legal profession and in fact she is, if I understand well, some sort of public prosecutor. What will she do when a jew (it’s irrelevant how abhorrent) is in front of her? (possibly being accused of one of the usual blood libels). It’s not a far-fetched fantasy or nightmare, as there are many jews in her town. Ready now: I have read your comments on nonjewish courts elsewhere in the CR; fair enough, but now you have to explain how it’s possible to act according to halacha, for a jewish prosecutor (who grew up unaware of being jewish) in the middle of nowhere, with no support, no connections, with no Rabbi to ask questions, with no background in Torah education. Not only that, but even if she somehow had a Rabbi helping her make the right decisions, she will encounter many problems in her workplace: it would be hard already in NYC or Israel, but being alone against everyone is extremely difficult. I don’t have good suggestions for Aurora, but it is my opinion that she should talk to a Rabbi without further delay, because none of us are qualified to give advice in such a delicate situation.

    #991183

    aurora77
    Participant

    Thank you ready now, Daniela, zahavasdad and JustHavingFun for all of your suggestions — I can tell that you all care passionately about helping a newcomer, and that is a beautiful thing!

    Ready now, I feel badly that my situation is causing you anxiety. My plan is to make contact with an Orthodox rabbi in the nearest big city, Philadelphia, when my mother finishes her chemotherapy (I am caring for her). Hopefully this eases your mind even a little bit?

    I hope you all had a very joyous New Year!

    #991184

    SayIDidIt™
    Participant

    I hope I’m not Bump™ing a controversial thread, but I was wondering if anyone knows what happened to aurora77 and her road to “finding herself”? I don’t have the patience to read all the posts since I left, but it seems from the last post that she was in the same situation as when i left.

    If anyone knows anythhing please fill me in. Also, I would like to know how her mother is faring. May all Cholim have a Refuah Shelaima.

    SiDi™

    #991185

    Shopping613 🌠
    Participant

    Nobody knows…..I guess, I hope sje found her way…..

    maybe she’s too frum to have internet now…lol

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