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Conversion Process Taking Too Long

Conversion Process Taking Too Long

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Question:

I have been in the midst of converting to Judaism for three years now, and the process is taking much longer than I had ever anticipated. I am willing to wait and be patient as long as I know that it is for a purpose, but all the procrastination is really getting to me!

Response:

Yes, it’s so often that way. It’s like one of those home-renovation projects that are never ever finished by the date that the contractor originally promised. Why? Because the job is always bigger than the contractor originally estimated, and there is always some unforeseen detail holding up the progress. But when those long months of homelessness end, and you move into your custom-made new home, it all becomes worth it.

That’s where you are now: Preparing a home for your new Jewish soul--and things are taking longer than they should. But remember that when the last nail is hammered in, the paint is dry and your Jewish soul settles into your new self, it will all become worthwhile.

Please feel free to reply, and have a great new year!

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Discussion (46)
January 28, 2014
So Pa.
I've worked with a few dozen Gerim. At the moment I have one who is ready for Gerus and a family who is ready to meet a Beis Din. One never knows for sure, but we are not required to know for sure. We are required to do our best to prepare a potential Ger for living a life as a Jew and we are required to look at the Ger and see that s/he is prepared and willing to devote a life to Avodath Hashem.
Sometimes that takes a little more time than others. One of my best candidates appeared to come for the wrong reasons but I saw beyond the wrong reasons and he dismissed the wrong reasons and is in it for the long haul. We are not clairvoyant and therefore we have to work hard. We work ourselves as hard as we work our candidates.
Rabbi Aryeh Moshen
Brooklyn, NY
January 28, 2014
90%
I am a bit wary whenever I hear (or read) a line that a conversion candidate feels that s/he can use an excuse of 90% of the Jews not living up to the standards. We can argue the percentage but that is irrelevant. If a prospective convert wants to convert then s/he must live up to the standards that 90% of Orthodox Jews live. Not less, perhaps more.

And if someone were to think that I am anti-Ger, then s/he should check on what I do pro bono.
Rabbi Aryeh Moshen
Brooklyn, NY
January 22, 2014
Mercy indeed!
I am so sorry to read of your grueling ordeal, like those of other commenters, and I feel ashamed. I think we should be able to render a decision for most people after one year, not multiple years. If the candidate has completely rejected his/her former practice and belief, keeps kosher, is shomer Shabbos, learns earnestly, and participates regularly in Jewish communal activities including worship, classes, and observance of festivals, this person should be welcome with open arms.

May HaShem bless you and protect you among all the other sincere converts.
Anonymous
Southeastern PA
January 18, 2014
Have a little mercy..
As a person going through a conversion myself, (orthodox) I feel like certain people responding are totally insensitive to the amazing pressure and harsh spotlight a conversion "candidate" is under. Ultimately G-d is for and open to everyone. G-ds power is not condensed and handed to a certain group of hard line people to make decisions and judge people and push them to their psychological limits and to treat them like a criminal who is fighting to clear their name and prove their worthiness. Sure, a convert chooses to approach the halakhic authority in order to join the Jewish people, nobody has forced them, however that is certainly not a form of permission to saddle that person with 1001 expectations and standards that 90% of the Jewish population does not live up to. Were human, we hurt and feel the same as anyone else, we are in pursuit of the truth and acceptance- treat us accordingly and dont harass us, we want to know G-d and walk in his ways just as much as you
Anonymous
November 4, 2013
Mishnah Pesachim and conversion
Dear rabbi, thanks for your reply. I am reminded of a passage in Mishnah Pesachim, I believe, that discusses the process of clearing chametz from the house before Pesach. One rabbi frets about the possibility of an animal dragging a crumb of chametz into the newly-cleaned house. Another responds, if we worried about that, there would be no end to the matter (you could never insure perfection).

This is how your reservation reads. It is a perfectly justified, rational concern - about anyone born Jewish as well as converts. So tell me, after precisely how many years do you know with 100.0000000% certainty that the convert will never stray from the derekh?

I worry about the consequences of too many chum'roth - that we end up making bitter enemies among gentiles and Jews. Over-stringency was cited at least once in the Talmud as a contributing cause for the destruction of the Second Temple.
Anonymous
Southeastern PA
October 30, 2013
If it were as simple as a black-and-white reading of the Rambam
or the Shulchan Aruch, or even the Gemara then there would be no issue. Yet the fast majority of our Batey Din (not to mention Gedolim such as Harav Amar, shlita) who state that people have changed. In the current generation many change their religion as often as some change their hair style. Many have gone from Catholic to Anglican or the other way around. A Methodist will marry a Baptist, etc. without raising an eyebrow.

What can one say when a Ger takes a couple of years to convert, marries a nice Jewish girl, has three children, and then six years after his conversion drops everything and returns to his pervious ways? What about the Ger who is on the board of directors of his orthodox synagogue and four years after his conversion becomes a mechalel Shabat? Do you think that they make it easy for the rest?

This is an issue where almost all Orthodox Batey Din (Haredi/RCA) agree. They all know how to read a Rambam as well as others.
Rabbi Aryeh Moshen
Brooklyn, NY
October 29, 2013
Let the
I have no wish to convert to Judaism. I am a born Jew, for at least as many generations as the previous commenter. I have observed the conversion process of others, however, with great dismay.

I know people affiliated with their local frum shul who have been humble, cheerful, observant and dutiful during their 3-year conversion process, which sees no sign of coming to an end soon. This is a travesty - a shanda - a repudiation of the Rambam's ruling on conversions and of minimal drekh eretz. Perhaps Anonymous in Brooklyn doesn't hold by the Rambam.

It is also undeniably true that some people with frum conversions have to prove their sincerity repeatedly throughout their lives if they're not white. I know examples personally and I have read the experiences of others.

We need to do better as a community at welcoming true gerim.
Anonymous
Southeastern PA
October 28, 2013
Surprised
I am surprised that the moderator permitted the hateful and confused comments of So. PA to be posted. It is time to get the chip off your shoulder and to decide whether you want to play ball or not. I take offense at your calling me or anyone else a "white Jew". We do not have a blood purity number after our names. I am of mixed Ashkenazi and Sephardi descent. My father and grandfather had olive complexions.

We turn away know-it-alls and those who lecture at us, those who think that they know more than our rabbis. If you want to convert then don't lecture, listen.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY
October 27, 2013
Chilul HaShem: desecration of derekh eretz and Rambam
That poor Rambam, what did he know? He said you teach a few positive mitz'voth and a few negative mitz'voth to the potential convert. If they live by these laws, you accept them.

Nowadays, we know so much better than the ultimate codifier of halakhah. We torture people for years to become frummer than frum, more knowledgeable than the g'doliym of the generation.

Once they're accepted by their rabbi, every other little group will raise questions about the sincerity of the conversion - especially if the convert isn't white.

Speaking of white Jews - can you prove the purity of your own bloodline back to our father Ya'aqov (Jacob)? Are you sure there isn't some Khazar DNA (not to mention Slavic, Teutonic, or Roman) mixed in?

Uniquely among the religions, we turn away the most ardent, committed proselytes, conferring legitimacy only upon the people who show their contempt for our sacred heritage. This is mishegas!
Anonymous
Southeastern PA
September 3, 2013
Bait and switch
That's really a non-answer disguised as an answer. This ridiculous posing becomes particularly egregious in the cases of women struggling with fertility issues who have their Jewishness questioned due to some issue with a mother or grandmother's conversion despite their having lived a devout life from birth and who are told "convert before marriage", then are strung along for years and refused a stamp of approval because they aren't kissing up to a rabbi. Are we to believe this is Hashem's will? Or is this an abuse of power? I suspect the latter.
Anon5
New Orleans
chabadneworleans.com
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