Hi Rabbi F,
I told my ex-husband M on Saturday that I am thinking of converting
to Judaism. He looked at me and said, "I'm not anti-semitic, Jen."
He was actually really supportive of it, said it is good that the kids
are exposed to lots of different ideas, and we agreed that they need
to make decisions when they are adults.
He was a little concerned about "the repudiation of Christ," but I
assured him that it just doesn't come up.
He mentioned that Sam at age 13 would be old enough for First
Communion, and I said, "Also Bar Mitzvah," so he laughed and said,
"How about a birthday party?"
I think it would be possible for Sam to do something that could
acknowledge what he is being taught at that time. There is time to
plan, time to think about it.
I read The Chosen yesterday. It was very good, and Dereck is bringing
home The Promise for me. I am starting to understand more and more of
the history of the Jewish people. Wow, you can't say, "I'm converting
to Judaism," any more than you could say, "I'm converting to
I asked Dereck, "How did the hasidim go from opposing the Zionist
movement to controlling everything in Israel?"
He just shrugged.
I can see now why you want me to read more about the history before we
I had a little bit of a crisis yesterday because I thought, "I'm not
yet at the point at which it is crucial to me that the boys become
Jewish. What's the point of converting if that isn't the goal, to
raise Jewish children? What kind of a Jew are you?"
And the more I read about the history, the more I think it is
necessary to raise children who will be Jews-- so maybe it's not that
I don't find it important, but that I despair that if I can't have
them convert now that maybe they won't do it as adults.
But then I talked to Dereck and he said, "Look, there are reasons why
it's important personally to you, and also, the boys will have no
chance at becoming Jewish if you don't."
M said something about the Newman Center starting up its classes
again on Wednesday nights (when I have the kids), but I can't take
them to that. You have to draw lines. I can't actively promote their
activity in another religion. He also said that while Catholicism
might be right for him, he doesn't know if he can impose it on the
boys. But he doesn't really like Timber Ridge (the outreach Church he
takes them to) anymore either.
We actually had a very decent chat. I emphasized the Bible stories,
loving G-d, and living an ethical life, and he nodded and agreed that
there are a lot of great stories in the Old Testament (and he added
that there are some crazy things too, and I said, "Oh, come on, look
at Paul! You are no lover of Paul, M." And he isn't-- he hates
Paul. He agreed, and said that is one of his main problems with
Catholicism-- it's based so strongly on Paul's teachings.
He started out by saying, "Oh, Jen, we're not Jews," But I told him I
want a heritage and a tradition to hand down to the boys. And he
concluded the conversation by saying it sounds like a good fit [for
me]. He even knew the name of Reform Judaism, though I don't know how
much he knows about Judaism, period.
But he wasn't opposed. Phew!
I don't know yet what he will say to the boys about it. I guess I'll
find out. But at least it's out in the open now. I told him that our
oldest boy is interested in learning Hebrew and he said, "I'd rather
have him learn French." Oh well. And I told him about our Shabbat
services and blintzes on Shavuot.
So, I'm now reading The Making of the Modern Jew by Steinberg (Chaim
Potok loves Steinberg, it turns out).