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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.
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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Helen Dudden Bristol November 24, 2016

I'm sorry my tablet added the question mark. That was not my intention.

I don't question the actions of others. We are all allowed an opinion, but it should be informed. Reply

Helen Dudden Bristol November 23, 2016

Well, my sight is not good again now. I'm not a cry baby as I have double vision, medications stopped. I have put my faith in what I believe.

Hashem, I love you with all I am, I always will, blind or sighted. I know your there for me? Reply

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen Brooklyn, NY November 23, 2016

A few years back I was talking with a member of the London Beis Din who mentioned that his secretary considered many of the members of my group to be "cry babies" as instead of moving forward with all engines on full they were complaining about not being able to move forward. My response was for him to send her to me and let her deal with the work that I assign and see if she is able to continue without at least some complaints. One who does not have his pedal at the metal, should not whine. One who does, may complain if the car still can't seem to get into a fast pace. But in almost all cases, it is the candidate's pace that sets the scene. The Gerus Guide tells you pretty straight forward what you need to read and how you need to study. It even has a check-list. Reply

אפרים Jerusalem via chabadwinnipeg.org November 23, 2016

There were two plain and clear stages to Ruth's path into Judaism:
1.Ruth said to her mother-in-law: "Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back from following you(...)"
2.Boaz said to the elders, and to all the people: "(...)...I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, the wife of Mahlon, as my wife"
What do one gathers from these words? That Ruth has not taken a conversion course, neither has she changed her name into a Jewish name, but her name became Jewish...Furthermore, Boaz refers to her after acquiring her as his wife as Ruth the Moabite, not "the convert" or you name it...(Bat Sarah, for example).
From this story, to today's Beith Din's conversion courses that last as long as it takes for someone to go infertile with age, it is a very long way. What would Ruth say? What would Boaz say, when he "wanted to settle the matter on that day"? We will never know. However, we know what Naomi said: "Would you tie yourselves down for them, not to marry anyone else? No, my daughters!". Reply

Helen Dudden england May 28, 2015

Ruth was a convert, she was accepted and a direct line to King David.

Why did Hashem make the choice and bring Ruth into the family of Jews.

Her qualities were kindness and caring, she never left her mother in law.

These qualities are important to all of us, not just the study, but how we are.

The Jewish past had much pain and suffering, that too we should understand. Reply

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen Brooklyn, NY January 28, 2014

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. Reply

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen Brooklyn, NY January 28, 2014

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. Reply

Anonymous Southeastern PA January 22, 2014

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. Reply

Anonymous January 18, 2014

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 Reply

Anonymous Southeastern PA November 4, 2013

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. Reply

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen Brooklyn, NY October 30, 2013

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. Reply

Anonymous Southeastern PA October 29, 2013

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. Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY October 28, 2013

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. Reply

Anonymous Southeastern PA October 27, 2013

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! Reply

Anon5 New Orleans via chabadneworleans.com September 3, 2013

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. Reply

Anonymous July 29, 2013

I know the feeling. I am in the conversion process too. I like to think of it as a dry run of learning to experience everything before I am obligated. I am trying to set goals for myself each month and add observances to my life as I learn them. My first conversion was "reform" and I realize now how much I did NOT know and so I am pretty thankful it is taking a long time to learn it before I am obligated. Reply

Rabbi Aryeh Moshen Brooklyn, NY October 16, 2011

In most cases, the length of time is based on the speed of the candidate to learn everything that is necessary and to acclimate into an orthodox community.

How is your Hebrew reading?
If male, do you go to services daily?
Do you know all the blessings before and after eating?
Do you know how to observe the Sabbath properly (which books did you use to learn these)?
Are you 100% Kosher?
Are you 100% Sabbath-Observant?
Which other books have you read and mastered?

Have you considered joining a Gerus group? Reply

Linda Cincinnati, OH October 8, 2010

How you are born is G-d's gift to you, but what you become is your gift to G-d.
:-) Reply

Anonymous October 7, 2010

I saw a lot of comments on here regarding people who were intimidated by those who were born Jewish, just remember, and feel free to remind them, the Moshiach will be the descent of a convert (Ruth). Our sages also tell us that converts and penitents are given more reward than those who were born Jews as for them it was a challenge, but for those born Jewish it was natural... Reply

Anonymous hamilton, ca October 7, 2010

A suffik (doubt of status) was raised for me, not long ago because I don't have papers to back up my lineage and everybody being non-religious intermarried (another reason why it's important to marry Jewish!) so the Rabbis suggest that I go through the giur (conversion) process to remove the suffik. A few things that became a factor in speeding things up for me is that I had a Rabbi I was close to provide a reference for me, this is important as it shows the beit din that someone in the community knows you are serious, also another thing to consider that the beit din might agree to move things faster is if you agree to go to a yeshiva. Another helpful thing (if you're a male) is that if you make it to shul to daven frequently, and you live in a fairly small Jewish community that has trouble forming a minyan, you might get some support from the community rabbis who want to speed things up so they can count you in the minyan ;)

l'hazlecha! Reply