Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pouring out my heart

I spent some time speaking to a man in my community who recently finished his conversion. He's about 28, converted conservative 3 years ago, got married, both of them became more religious and then he converted Orthodox. His situation is different from mine, but it's still similar. I asked him for some advice. He first gave me the basic advice that everyone wants to share: read some books, keep "kosher," learn, make sure this is what you really want. I listened and took what I could from his advice, but then I explained to him that I have already learned quite a bit. I told him that I learn with a chavrusa every day except for Friday. I told him that I have read all of the books on my syllabus. I told him of my Jewfolio and told him that Rabbi Adan had told Adara that my Jewfolio is so thorough that he would give it to people who wanted to convert to show them what they needed to know. I told him that I'm 100% sure this is what is right for me, and that no whim would be strong enough for me to make my mother cry and believe I am going to hell. He stopped, kinda looked at me, and said, "Well, what's the Beis Din waiting for." To which I had no answer. Then, he told me what I am doing differently from him. He said he spoke to Rabbi Dan and Rabbi Aden so frequently that he became a fly, buzzing constantly. He said that by the time they converted him, they had to have been relieved to have him off their back. I explained that I am hesitant to seem flighty or overly emotional about this, or overly cocky. His suggestion was that I write an e-mail to Rabbi Dan and to Rabbi Aden tinged with the flavor of desperation and full of the passion I have for this. With that e-mail, I need to explain why I need to convert, what's motivating me, and why I feel I'm ready. After that, all I need to do is follow up. So, now I'm working on this email. I've worked so long in school, debate, etc., to remove emotion from my writing and to make it impersonal. The perils of being a science major, I suppose. This e-mail is going to be difficult for me, I'm certain, but I'm going to do it. I don't know if I'll post it yet, but I will be sure to let y'all know.

P.S., regarding my previous post: I am pretty well informed of the laws of tznius and the laws of yichud. My point was not that I didn't know what was appropriate, my point was just that there are two very different worlds, and nothing I know about the laws of tznius or yichud prohibits a guy from being introduced to a girl in a public kiddush without there being an intention of a possible marriage. More than a law, I would guess that it's tradition and custom. It's the tradition and custom of one world that I sometimes forget is different from the world I've always lived within.


Sammy Davis, Jr. said...

Forget the email. Call and get an appointment.

Just like an attorney, the rabbis get hundreds of emails and calls a day, and there are usually more important things on the agenda like visiting the hospital, coordinating Shabbos hospitality, scheduling a minyan for the shiva house, soliciting big donors or whatever, so that nutty conversion candidates go to the bottom of the list.

I don't know the temperament of your rabbis, but for my situation it took patience, diligence and persistence, what I informally call the "pushy test." We had to demonstrate a genuine desire for like a year and a half before there was any kind of progress, and then things went very quickly.

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Michal bas Avraham said...

I am a giyeress who felt the same way. Sometimes, the delay has nothing to do with you or anything you lack. My beis din had to get re-approval from Israel because of all the conversion scandals over there.