I regret converting…sometimes

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This topic has 3 voices, contains 7 replies, and was last updated by  Earl 1324 days ago.

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July 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm #4874

zokar32

I was raised Baptist.  My grandparents were very religious and my parents took me to church as much as possible. After college  I moved to a larger city and had many Jewish friends which led to me meeting my future husband.  Before we were engaged I started taking classes to convert.  Once we were engaged we moved to a smaller town with few Jews.  I continued on my path to Judaism because at the time I sincerely wanted to be Jewish.  A side note is that it was VERY important to his parents that I convert.  His dad even said that he wouldn’t come to the wedding if I didn’t.  So I converted. 

After almost 5 years of marriage I’ve realized that his parents are not very religious.  Neither is my husband.  They never go to services only on the holidays.  When I tell my husband about how I feel about his lack of knowledge in Judaism he just exclaims “I was bar mitsvah”  I am always the one who initiates going to Shabbot services.  When we do go both my husband and I are both completely lost.  He doesn’t know any of the Hebrew or what’s going on.  He is suppose to be my Jewish leader and I dont know anything about being Jewish. 

To make matters worse his family constantly makes fun of Christians.  Which I take personally because that is what my family is.  My Baptist family was actually supportive.  They have never said one harsh thing to me about converting. 

I look back now and realize that at the time I was fascinated and really wanted to be Jewish.  Mainly I think because I wanted to do what was right for my husband too.  I would really like to go back and be a Gentile (not Baptist) but I’m so confused now I dont know what to believe.  I know that I am a spiritual person and want to live in a spiritual home. 

I’m really concerned now because we are about to start a family.  I just dont know what to do.  I love my Rabbi but I dont want him to resent me or harbor bad feelings if I discuss this with him. His family is not the reasonable type that you can talk to.  I thnk they would hate me and my future children.  His parents really have a hold on my husband too.  I would hate to think of what my future might hold if they knew what I was thinking. 

I know this sounds crazy.  I really needed to get that out there.  Please any advice is welcome.  Thanks!

July 20, 2010 at 9:23 pm #4897

ds

Dear Zokar,

I’m sorry you are confused.  It sounds like there are a lot of issues to sort out – why you wanted to be Jewish, understanding enough about Judaism to be able to participate in a meaningful way, your in-laws not respecting your background.  I’m worried you’re combining your feeltings toward your husband and in-laws with your feelings towards Judaism.  And I’m disturbed that when you converted you didn’t receive enough Jewish education to direct your own Jewish journey.  Many of us who were born Jewish didn’t receive enough Jewish education either.  As adults, it’s up to us to take control of our education and commit to learning more so that we can make choices about our practice.

It sounds like you are searching for spirituality as well as religion.  In a Jewish context Aykea, Instite for Jewish Spirituality, and others provide resources.

If you saw beauty in Judaism, I urge you not to discard it, but to sort through what you felt at the time of your conversion and what you feel now.  Think again about talking to your Rabbi.  They are used to sticky questions.  If he’s approachable in general, there’s no reason to not approach him about this, if he’s a good guy he would probably disturbed that you felt you couln’t talk to him.  Or ask IFF to refer you to a Rabbi who you can speak with by phone and who understands the complex feelings surroungind conversion and can help you with resources. Of course, ultimately what you decide is up to you.  Good luck.

July 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm #4920

Aryeh Ben David

I think the previous comment misspelled Ayeka and meant – Ayeka – http://www.ayeka.org.il

July 27, 2010 at 2:07 am #4928

Tania

As someone who is going through this very issue I urge you to think it through and work it out BEFORE you have children.  I too converted prior to our wedding and after we had children it became an issue.  Although my husband is not religious he has become very concerned about the children being raised as jewish and very against exposure to catholicism.  I feel as though I have lost my identity and dont fit anywhere.  I am not a religious person in the conventional sense, but I do believe in one God and the need to live a moral life.  As my husband and I drift further apart, I wonder if I made a mistake in converting and whether all our problems are punishment from God for my choice.  Now it seems too little two late and we have 2 beautiful boys so I wonder how will religion and faith play a role in their life, although it seems divorce would be the right option, I dont want to tear my childrens family apart and as selfish as it may sound I dont want to lose one second of their life never mind every other weekend…..Just think it through and come up with a concrete plan/agreement with your husband before you bring kids into it.

August 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm #4967

Sprite

Your rabbi will not “hate” you for sharing your feelings with him about your beliefs and/or your marriage. As a rabbi and fellow Jew, he will hope you will find fulfillment in Judaism, but I am sure he will also want you to do the right thing for you.

Your in-laws may not attend shul or synagogue and may see themselves as cultural Jews. Since you are a convert the “cultural” part may seen foreign in a way the spirituality doesn’t.  Remember that your in-laws, and Jews in general, have valid reasons for being suspicious of churches, due to a very, very long history of anti-Semitism preached from church pulpits. However, this does not give them any right to make fun of the beliefs of the people you love.

Your synagogue might hold classes for converts or refreshers for born-Jews who are re-discovering their religion. You might take one of these classes, or ask your rabbi to recommend some books, so you can get back to theology and spirituality, instead of basing your decision of personalities.

September 22, 2010 at 11:14 pm #5068

Benk

Dear Zokar,

What a painful situation.  I am so sorry you are having to suffer through this.

Like some of the others who have responded, I think there are a number of related issues all twisted up together here.  To try and separate them

1)  Your parents-in-law being rude about Christians (i.e. your family) in your presence is just offensive.  Period.  You may have the misfortune to have collected some not-so-great in-laws when you got married.  Depending on your relationship with them, and your judgment as to whether they are likely to be receptive, you could try to tell them you find this distressing.  

2)  If you have a serious stress in your relationship with your husband, of any kind, before you have children is the time to work it out.  I really, really urge you to work on this.  If you need help having a productive discussion, there is nothing wrong with using a therapist or some other professional to help.

3) It sounds like your spiritual needs are not being met.  It sounds like, when you converted, you looked forward to a rich spiritual life (similar to the one you enjoyed as a child) in which you, your husband, and perhaps his parents, shared observance and the joys of the life of the soul.  And that’s not happening.  To be deprived of it must be so painful.  Can you find a rich Jewish life that clearly involves your husband, but does not depend on it?  Are there other families you might celebrate Shabbat with?  Does your synagogue offer Torah study, or a book club. or choir, or volunteer opportunities, or other activities that you might enjoy?  Perhaps if you can get involved in that way, you can find others with whom to celebrate or participate.  This wouldn’t squeeze your husband out, but would leave him to choose how much he throws himself into it, and at what pace.  

You know your Rabbi best, but perhaps you could approach him in a spirit of I’m-feeling-disconnected and want to be getting more from my Jewishness.

Hope something there helps!

November 23, 2010 at 6:33 am #5231

hi2galit

I am sorry his parents are being mean when it comes to Christians this is totally unacceptable in Judaism. We are taught Xtians go to heaven too.
I am not sure what areas in service you are having trouble with, but if it is in the prayers you can learn many of the prayers on-line like at siddur audio I think it is .org, but you can yahoo it and it will come up.
Maybe try to develop some Jewish traditions at home, that will help make Judaism come alive for you. Perhaps by making Challah or making Friday night family night or make your own traditions.  I am sorry you felt pressured to convert, that is sad. Maybe Shul isn’t 100% for you maybe try to find a Hadassah chapter in your area or some place like JCC to feel connected.
I hope you will find peace within this situation soon.  ((HUGS))

February 4, 2011 at 4:20 am #5458

Earl

The first time I went to Shabbat services was because I told my girlfriend that I wanted to see what it was like. She hadn’t been to her local synagogue since she’d moved to her current city a couple of years ago. The irony of me dragging her is something I chuckle about.

In our case, it gave me a new direction and it resparked something for her, so my conversion will be a shared experience where I explore and she helps guide me.

It sounds like you made a choice to embrace this on your own freewill, not just because you were trying to fit in. Don’t let their lack of faith make you question yours.

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