Article Discussion: Are Converts Treated as Second Class

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This topic has 4 voices, contains 5 replies, and was last updated by  joel beck 5 years ago.

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April 10, 2009 at 4:15 pm #1751


Click here to read the article: Are Converts Treated as Second Class

November 1, 2009 at 11:05 pm #3986


As a sincere convert who attends synagogue regularly, has given several dvar torah’s, and is studying Biblical Hebrew, I say, yes, converts are second class citizens. Halacha forbids converts from marrying Levites or Cohens. While this law is ignored by Conservative Jews, it’s still on the books. Immigration to Israel is difficult for non-Orthodox converts, and, once there, these converts can’t marry or divorce in the country. Finally, converts can’t say kaddish–the central prayer in Judaism–for non-Jews, thus, they can’t publicly honor non-Jewish relatives (probably everyone in their families) in the same way born-Jews can. That these differences between the treatment afforded born Jews and converts are tolerated, indeed, seldom if ever discussed, are to me signs that for many born Jews, converts are often a means to an end–keeping born Jews within the fold of Judaism and producing born Jewish children. For shame.

November 2, 2009 at 1:42 am #3987

Ruth Abrams

I cannot speak for every rabbinic source, but it is my understanding that many poskim (interpreters of Jewish law) permit or require Jews with non-Jewish parents to sit shivah and say Kaddish for them. Please check with your own rabbi. (I hope this hasn’t come up for you yet!)

November 2, 2009 at 7:01 am #3988

Debbie B.

For a Conservative Jewish convert, the following responsum concludes that a convert *must* say kaddish and mourn for their non-Jewish relatives in the same way that Jews by Birth do: … nverts.pdf

In that responsum, it is noted that (Orthodox) Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef says that a convert *should* (not just “may”) say kaddish for non-Jewish parents. However, other rabbis may have different opinions, so as Ruth notes, this is certainly a case where a Jew should ask his/her rabbi.

I think it is important to keep in mind that the issue is the non-Jewishness of the parents, not the status of the convert. Sometimes Jews by birth have this issue with the deaths of non-Jewish relatives or with people who are not actually first degree relatives even if they had fulfilled that role in raising them. My Jew by birth husband wondered how to mourn for his non-Jewish step-grandfather. Since my husband had lost his parents as a child, this grandfather had been in many ways a father-figure for him. We had moved his grandfather to our town in the last couple of years of his life because he had no other living relatives besides my husband’s sister, and he had no close friends where he had been living (even though the weather was better there). My husband did not say kaddish, but stayed at home for a few days in a shiva-like way, during which time some of our minyan friends stopped by to offer emotional support.

As a Jewish convert myself [align=center][/align]with two living parents, I have wondered what I would do in the event of their deaths. At this point I would probably say kaddish and sit shiva for a reduced period, and would not say kaddish for a year, because I think *they* would prefer a modification as an acknowledgment that *they* are not Jewish. My parents would not want to deny me all of the Jewish mourning rituals that would give me comfort, and yet I think they would feel that a change in the way I observed the ritual would actually be a way to honor them.

April 24, 2010 at 5:28 am #4568


I think you have a misunderstood since Halacha does NOT forbids converts from marrying Levites or Cohens…what’s more, according to Judaism a convert is regarded and must be regarded as 100% Jew..i.e. King David married a Canaanite named Bath-Sheba and his great grandmother Ruth was also a Canaanite who converted and there were many others Canaanite who choose to convert and intermarriages and even there were great rabbinical figures who were converted i.e Hillel the sage, Rabbi Akiba etc

May 8, 2012 at 5:38 am #6745

joel beck

If a convert(an unfortunate term!) is to jump through hoops, they will go elsewhere.
Since our numbers are south of fourteen millions, we do have the luxury of shutting off any source that would increase our numbers

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