The Convert

I used to love reading Jewish books. I used to love learning more about Judaism, learning more about the wisdom of the Torah. I used to love it so much, that I spent all my money on Jewish books, and so I have bookshelves full of them, quite a large collection when taking into account how little time I have spent in the Jewish universe.

I could have bought pictures for my walls, fancy candlesticks, beautiful clothes, but instead I spent all that money on my books. They were the most important thing in the world to me. And now I sometimes don’t even want to see them. Sometimes, I manage to read through some of them, but now it is painful to even think about them.

I used to love the Jewish prayers. I would spend so much time learning beautiful melodies, I loved the blessings, the psalms, every word in my siddur was sweet to me. I was so happy and proud when I bought my first siddur, I was bursting with joy. Now it’s worn out, covered with stains of grape juice and wine, and I don’t even want to touch it, every prayer that I say makes me cry.

It hurts to say the prayers, it hurts to read the books. It hurts to say the kiddush, and to do netilat yadayim. It all hurts, and still I have to do it, because once I promised to keep them all, to keep all the mitzvot. And so I try to do it like you pull out a band-aid – so quickly I don’t have to feel the pain. I try to do it as quickly as possible, with as little feeling or thought as possible, to minimize the pain. I just go through the motions, doing the necessary movements, reciting the necessary words, and trying not to think about it too much. Because if I let it get in my head, it is more painful than anything else, it kills my soul.

And sometimes it all hurts so much that I go to the other direction – I try to drown my thoughts into the prayers, to cover my worries with concentrating on the meaning of the blessings I say, and sometimes I just try to call Him for help. When it gets painful, I run away, and when it gets so desperate, when the pain gets more than unbearable, I try to hold on to my faith in G-d.

But it doesn’t really do the trick for long. For an instance, for a few minutes, for a few hours, it helps, but then I feel the hopelessness again. G-d doesn’t love me, He doesn’t really care. Like the rabbis, and the people in the shul, the Jews I met on that Birthright trip, like all the Jews I know, if they don’t care, why would He?

Judaism is so painful, that It colors all my perceptions, everything to do with Judaism, becomes another reminder, another trigger, something to crush me under the heavy weight of memories and thoughts.

Or really, it’s just one thought, one feeling, one idea, that I try to describe but I can’t find the words.

It goes maybe a bit like this: I am a Jewish convert, and converts are not Jewish, and since my conversion is questioned, not approved of, not accepted for Aliyah, I am even less Jewish. I am not part of the Jewish people, I am not part of the Jewish community, I have one Jewish friend and she is a convert too. If she doesn’t invite me for shabbos, no one does, if she doesn’t invite me for the Yom tov meals, I spend them all alone, I make my own seder alone. Everyone hates me, the non-Jews and the non-Orthodox Jews hate me because I’m Orthodox, the born Jews hate me because I’m a convert, and the Orthodox converts hate me because I’m depressed.

I don’t belong anywhere and I never will, because even if I convert again and again, I can’t wash away my non-Jewish blood and will never become a real Jew. I’m not part of the Jewish people, no one cares, I might as well die, no one would mourn for me anyway. When I go to shul I wait until the important people (read: born Jews) have taken their seats, before I dare try to look for one for myself. When I go to shul I never dare greet the important people (read: born Jews), unless one of them greets me first, they are so much higher in the hierarchy.

So I only talk with the other converts, and other converts are also the only people I invite to my home. No born Jew ever stepped inside my apartment, tiny so that I can live walking distance to the community, with empty walls because I preferred to spend my money on learning Torah instead.

I often invite converts, low caste like me, my equals in this life. The born Jews are above me, I would not dare. I have this tiny little necklace, with a star of David in it, that I once bought, and I dare not wear it around non-Jews I know (I don’t want them to know I’m a crazy convert) but I also don’t dare wear it around born Jews, because I feel I’m stealing something from them. I keep thinking that they would consider it cultural appropriation, because I’m not allowed to have that culture, I’m not allowed to feel a connection to their history, because I’m a convert, and not a real Jew.

But for some reason, it hurts to think like this. I don’t really understand why, shouldn’t it be possible just to know your place in life and accept your fate? Isn’t Judaism a religion of hierarchies, of separate roles, of rules who to save first from drowning? Isn’t it G-d’s will, that converts are lower class, doesn’t even the word “ger” properly translated mean perpetual outsider?

So why does it hurt so much? Is it because of a defect in my soul, that prevents me from seeing G-d’s beautiful plan in this, probably inherited from my non-Jewish ancestors?

I don’t know. But I keep hurting, And still I keep doing the mitzvot, even though I don’t want to, even though the challah in my mouth is like shards of glass, hurting every bite while I try not to cry because Shabbos is supposed to be a day of bliss.

48 Comments

  1. Sam Reinstein August 2, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Just in case you live in Crown Heights, you are always welcome at Kol Israel. Not as a convert, but as a person. I am so sorry you have been made to feel this way and I would hope no one ever gets that feeling in my shul, not even for a minute.

    Reply
  2. Mona Boeger August 2, 2017 at 8:39 am

    First let me say that it’s not always easy to be a Jew, whether you are a Jew from birth or a convert. Second they said they are Orthodox, I think they need to identify what type of Orthodox. Are they Chabad, Ultra, Modern etc.. and when they figure that part out, then they need to seek out the type of community they want to be in. The right Shul, Community and Rabbi don’t just fall into your lap, you need to seek out what you want. Don’t sit at home on Shabbat waiting for an invite, the same with Pesach, find a community event, the more you interact with the people instead of just saying that everybody doesn’t like you, the more included you will feel. In order to convert, you must seek out Judaism, Jews will not go out and recruit you, the same thing goes with the communities, go to a Shul, if it doesn’t feel right or if they can’t accept you, then go to a different one until you find what fits for you. The great thing about Judaism is that it’s not a once size fits all. Good luck and G-d Bless.

    Reply
  3. Avigayil Chana August 2, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I am also an unloved convert. My conversion is approved for aliyah, but why would I want to go there. If you can’t marry then you’re nothing, and so I’m nothing plus a convert. Worse, I’m a feminist and that’s seeming more like Torah than the community around me. I avoid learning right now because it leads to internal anguish. Maybe next month I’ll be able to learn again. Like you, learning was my greatest love. I am learning to care less and just live with God. It’s the only way that works emotionally for me.

    Reply
  4. saralaya August 2, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I don’t even have words…… if you were sitting with me I would offer you a hug- If you lived near me I would invite you to our house all the time. I am a “born Jew” and I cannot understand the reactions of other people…I just can’t…. the fact that your conversion has been called into question by the government rabbis in Israel is a topic which is very painful to many of us. I was taught that a convert IS a Jew and should never be treated any differently than any other Jew and, as a matter of fact, except when discussing it privately with that person (if they bring it up) one should never mention that someone is a ger. I also suffer from depression and that makes all of this worse for you, I know. I hope that you are or will get treatment for your depression, which MAY make some of this easier to bear. I worry when you say “I might as well die, no one will mourn for me” because it makes me remember the times I have felt suicidal in my life. I hope you are not feeling that way, if you are, please reach out and get some help. From your description of your life, it is easy to understand why you feel alone. You said “G-d doesn’t love me, He doesn’t really care”. I understand why you feel this way but I think you are mistaken. I think G-d loves you very much, which is why he brought you to us. I think we overlook the miracles that surround us every day. If you look at the “Modim anachnu” prayer in the Shemonah Esrei you will see that G-d is with us all the time. For many years I did not pay attention to this prayer- I didn’t really understand it or it’s relation to my daily life. After a series of really negative experiences one day I read this and realized that despite all of it- I was still HERE and surrounded every day by small miracles. I do not know your name but I send you virtual hugs and encourage you to wear your Magen David necklace proudly since you have earned the right to wear it. I, on the other hand, did nothing to “earn” my right to wear mine-since I was born Jewish and never had to prove it to anyone or learn anything special, like you did. Stay strong- you ARE one of us!!

    Reply
  5. Serach August 2, 2017 at 9:37 am

    What a brave expression of your internal world. So sad that you’ve been made to feel anything other than a proud Jewish person. Once a conversion is completed, you are in every way a true Jew. Anything that anyone does that makes you feel otherwise is a travesty. I hope you find the strength to claim your place at shul and in your community…even if that community lies in wait of you elsewhere.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your pain. When I do so, it is frightening yet healing. I hope you found some comfort in sharing this all.

    I relate to much of what you said. Not to the details of the story, rather to the underlying loneliness, isolation and terminal uniqueness.

    What helped me is to get help for my depression, fear of others, anxiety and more. And then I slowly realized, that the solution is within me. I realized that so much of the narrative I have is really just in my head.

    But through years of work, I see some very significant changes in my outlook of the world, of others, and most importantly – of myself!

    Best of luck in your continuous journey of life!

    Reply
  7. S. Benson August 2, 2017 at 9:48 am

    This was tough to read–so much pain.

    The most telling line was “and the Orthodox converts hate me because I’m depressed.”
    Please understand how depression can bias perceptions.
    Yes, the community can be more accepting of converts.
    But what comes through here is the pain you’re in, a pain that is exacerbated by depression.
    Please get the depression treated/controlled. Find a therapist or program–do whatever you need to do.

    Reply
  8. Trisha Arlin August 2, 2017 at 9:52 am

    You are a Jew. If you converted with a Beit Din then you are a full-fledged Jew. If you are going to shul with “born” Jews who don’t think you are a Jew then they are wrong and ignorant and nasty and you are hanging out with the wrong Jews. And you are depressed. Please find help, a therapist or psychiatrist. You are not a second tier Jew, there is no such thing. You are a Jew. One of us. Hi. Find another shul.

    Reply
  9. Erin Piateski August 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

    I hope you are reading the comments on this article. You are not alone and there are many people pulling for you to feel happy and succeed — you just don’t know them yet. There is a private Facebook group for Orthodox Jewish converts and conversion candidates where you can discuss the joys and sadnesses of being a convert and find support. Please PM me on Facebook or e-mail me (my first name dot my last name at gmail) and I can add you to the group. It doesn’t have to be as bad as this, and there’s still time to rekindle your love of Torah and mitzvot.

    Reply
  10. Stacey Flint August 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Heart renching. I can’t even reply much. May Hashem send you true community and wash away all this pain.

    Reply
  11. Yonason Goldson August 2, 2017 at 10:01 am

    It’s truly painful to read about your pain. You are obviously sincere and devoted to a spiritual calling, and it is tragic that your attempt to become part of the Jewish people has caused you such distress. The real tragedy is that politics and ideologies have infected the conversion process and left you a victim.

    A Torah conversion requires making a commitment to keep the totality of Torah according to 3300 years of tradition under the authority of a responsible beit din. If the beit din you went to is not recognized by the Torah observant community, they cannot accept your status, regardless of your sincerity. But that does not preclude you from seeking a more universally accepted beit din.

    As for “hating you,” no one should hate you, regardless of the technical questions surrounding your conversion. Please seek out broadminded individuals in the Torah community, of which there are many. You will always encounter those who can’t separate the individual from the ideology, but there are many, many others who welcome all those who seek truth with sincerity and conviction.

    May Hashem guide you in all your ways.

    Reply
  12. Cynthia August 2, 2017 at 10:24 am

    The Jews you encounter should be ashamed not to welcome you. You need to look for the right Jewish congregation for you. If you live in a big city, there ought to be a few options, including some groups that are more inclusive. Find a shul buddy, and attend with that individual. You should never be alone. I would happily go with you if we lived in the same city, and I know others who would. Don’t despair. Finding a fit is very challenging. And it is everything.

    Reply
  13. Jade Gormady August 2, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I too am a convert, but I live in a young vibrant community and have found a group of like-minded weirdos. Sometimes I refer to my table as the Island of Misfit Jews. I don’t go to shul much now because of little kids, but my friends tend to bring others and the circle grows.

    If the OP ever finds themselves in Washington Heights in NYC, feel free to get in touch with me, we will host you whenever you need. Also, I am part of a hidden FB group of orthodox converts if you want to contact me to become part of the group to help you out wherever you live. It can get better and less lonely.

    Reply
  14. Yitz August 2, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I was a convert as a baby, so I don’t feel it as much, but I know it’s there, especially when it comes to the dating world. I definitely understand the pain you’re feeling, the orthodox world is a very harsh world; I’ve already accepted that.
    But you gotta keep moving forward. See Judaism for its ideas, not the people. Stay strong and continue to build yourself up. We converts are here for you

    Reply
  15. retikhah August 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

    Whoever is treating you this way is a disgrace. It is forbidden by Jewish law, and completely without any merit.

    Reply
    1. wilbri63 November 20, 2017 at 5:37 am

      Agree with you, retikhah.
      I was am and will be a born Jew and while I don’t apologise for that fact, I am aware that it’s something I was gifted.
      I’m neither very observant nor very knowledgeable.
      All the same, my Jewish environment, my Rabbis [from the ‘Orthodox’ stream] over the years, have let it be known that converts to Judaism can’t be Cohanim.
      Other than that, they can be anything in the community.
      BTW, I once had an ‘Orthodox’ Rabbi whose parents were converts.
      Neshamas, I feel some of your pain and salute your dedication.
      I know of no one who can claim to be perfect – other than a misinformed, or a confused, or a liar, or combination of these.
      Accept that you are a Jew, feel free to wear your Magen David, that is, if you want to.
      If you ever revisit Israel, please feel free to make contact.

      Reply
  16. Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    I understand your feeling of loneliness and nonbelonging in the general sense of the feeling. I am not a convert, so I can’t understand that aspect of it. But I do have some really good friends who are converts and I see the underlying discrimination. However, I would like you to consider that there are born Jewish people out there who will not treat you like an ‘other’. I’m glad you’ve written about your experiences. This is a topic that needs more attention.

    Reply
  17. Lynne Arons August 2, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    As a born Jew who stands in awe of those who choose, as an adult, to leArn it all, incorporate all the little bits, and tasks, that make up being Jewish, I want to tell you , you are welcome here. Every community has snobs, rude people and boores. That does not make rudeness ‘Jewish’, but it does make some Jews rude. As far as the strangle hold the Israeli Rabbanut holds on the politics in Israel, be assured most of us, both in and out of Israel, think they are lunatics. If you come to Chicago please message me, I would be happy to accompany to any Shul you choose, my Shul is not Orthodox but you would be most welcome. Our past president was a convert, she also teaches in our school. I grew up in an Orthodox Shul, so I can be comfortable in that environment with you as well. DON’T GIVE UP ON US!!

    Reply
  18. AddictionMyth August 2, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Who knows, you might be even more of a Jew than the people who reject you. In my opinion there is some very deep fakery out there.

    Reply
  19. Tzvia August 2, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    Sorry to hear of your anguish. I’m a convert, too, and I’ve had mixed experiences. In some Jewish communities it was very hard to get into contact with people, in others less so. I agree with what others already posted above – try to find a more welcoming community. If you live in a place where there is only one Jewish community or shul, consider moving to a different place, if you can. Check out different communities before you move in that case, so you know where you’re going. In any event, I would recommend that you try to be more assertive. Speak to people, greet them in a friendly way, even if they are “born Jews”. If they seem to ignore you, just do it again next week and the week after. Be stubborn about it. Try to draw people into a conversation by asking them questions (not necessarily about Jewish topics, ask about the bus timetable or something like that or if you know someone has a computer shop, say, ask him or her something clever about computers etc…). Try to go to community events that are open to all, like shiurim, public seder or yom tov meals etc. Look around if in your community they do any volunteer work or chesed and ask if you can take part. I volunteered for some time in a soup kitchen for the poor – it’s a way to get to know people. Have you tried speaking to the rabbi of your community? Maybe you can get his support. If he or that community doesn’t accept your giur, find a community that does or else, try to do a repeat conversion according to their standards (I know of people who have done that). Last but not least, use social media and ask around to find out if there are other converts living near you – support each other – even if it’s just online. By the way, after several years of community hopping I made Aliyah to Israel and for me that was the best step ever. I found a welcoming community here and I got married (to a “born Jew”).

    Reply
  20. Akiva Michelson August 2, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I was saddened to read your article. That’s not the way I was brought up, and that’s not the way my children are.
    I hope you find a community which follows the Torah
    וַאֲהַבְתֶּם אֶת הַגֵּר כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ
    You shall love the convert (or stranger) for you were all converts/strangers in the land of Egypt

    Personally I think it’s very telling that our birth as a nation.. was as slaves. Slaves in the ancient world was the lowest of the lows. To say you were a slave or descended from slaves was a terrible shame or insult – so for a whole nation to be truly humble and accepting of others.. we were all descended from slaves…

    Reply
  21. someoneoncelivedhere August 2, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Please use the onlinecommunities to find an outlet. shabbat.com has connected many people world-wide for Shabbos meals or friendship. I have been lucky to have at my shabbos table (I am a “Yeshivish” kollelman) mexican, and African-American converts and almost-converts, as well as many other colorful Jews, and my family has BENEFITTED by what they bring to the table. There is a WHOLE world out there, don’t forget that.

    Reply
  22. Anonymous August 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    This was very hard to read. Heart aches for you. I’m glad that you have identified depression and that you have identified some friends. Both can improve. I think it’s very important to treat your depression w/clinical help. The relationships that you have are meaningful and they matter. Continue to use that group for support. I also think that you should get involved in the secret orthodox convert group. It’s a great support space.

    Reply
  23. Lis Shapiro August 2, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    You have chosen to be a Jew, and will be welcomed with warmth and open arms by many, many other Jews around the world. Don’t allow the terrible negative experiences you have had discourage you.
    Seek a new community, and may I suggest one with rabbinical leadership known for kindness and ‘openess.’
    We need you, and you us.
    Depression or not, you are treasured and belong. Please remember that HaShem created each of is as a unique, and special, and that you have so much yet to give and do!
    חזק …. strength
    ועמץ….. and courage!!!!

    Reply
  24. Susan August 2, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    I live in Harrisburg and attend its Orthodox synagogue. We have members who reflect different branches of Orthodoxy. Some of our core members have become Jews by choice. I’d like to say that you wouldn’t be disappointed in a setting like ours. I am so very, very sorry to hear of the pain you’re experiencing. Yes, I once felt so highly sad and disappointed with an affiliation, and I’m glad I moved on.

    Reply
  25. Bryan Bridges August 2, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    I’m sorry that has been your experience. I converted as a college student, and it hasn’t been mine. I’ve generally organized potluck dinners for “strangers, widows, and orphans” (for converts, people studying for conversion, people who are divorced or widowed, and those living away from family or who no longer have family), which was a great way to build a community/family for holidays and to simultaneously do a mitzvah.

    BTW, you can make aliyah with any conversion overseen by rabbis recognized by their movement as long as you studied for at least nine months and maintained a connection to the community in which you were converted.

    Reply
  26. Rivkah August 2, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Without revealing my full name as a fellow Orthodox Jewish convert, I totally feel your pain. When I started my Jewish journey I was sooo on fire. Now I feel like the fire was quenched. The stares, the constant questioning, and the shunning made me wonder if this is what Orthodox Judaism about. So contradictory to how the Torah talks about honoring the ger. We are in a very lonely place.

    Reply
  27. Carrol Cowan August 2, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I hope it turns out to be no more than a painful episode in a long and fulfilling life. I did have a difficult period early on as an Orthodox convert, but with time have come to feel fully at home. I seem to be accepted by most people I meet, Jews and non-Jews of every stripe. Not everyone will accept any one of us, and not everyone deserves to be in our lives. I’ll be asking Hashem to give you strength & love.

    Reply
  28. Uzi Weingarten August 2, 2017 at 10:45 pm

    To be a convert to Judaism is a high honor. I know that, and I am born Jewish, and any Jew who understands the faith knows that. Seems you are in an environment that doesn’t understand this and is not treating you as you deserve to be treated. I am way far from you, on the West Coast, but others here who apparently are closer to you have given you ideas on where you might find community that will embrace you and cherish you for the wonderful person you are. If I can help, ask the mods on this site to give you my email address and contact me directly.

    Reply
  29. Anonymous August 3, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I am a convert and have been welcomed by our Chabad community (I was converted through Young Israel). One thing that has helped me deal with isolation (I’m too far from Shul to attend on Shabbat) is having a study partner. I have a wonderful chevrusa and though she is Belz Haredi she has never treated me as less than a born, frum Jew. I was linked to her through Partners in Torah, and I highly suggest you contact them. They will work hard to find you a study match. If the first one doesn’t work, they’ll find another. And you can study anything you want to focus on.

    Reply
  30. Bracha August 3, 2017 at 2:48 am

    I relate to so much of what you have painfully and beautiful said. Being an orthodox Jew is not easy. Finding your community is not easy. I am still looking for mine. Reading through these comments you are not alone or unloved or not cared about. We are strangers and we are all caring very much about you. What I have found in the uniqueness of Judaism, that has never failed me, is that amongst the judgmental or bad apples there are always those (strangers) who step up to take care of “family”. Those commenting are your “family”. In studying Torah I have found that our Creator puts an emphasis on how converts are to be treated. Held to a high esteem. Avraham Avinu a convert. The grandmother of King David, Rut, a convert. This the line of the coming Messiah. How many of our greatest Rabbis are converts!? How do you know that your purpose isn’t to change the attitude, of what you call the “real Jews”, towards converts? I agree…. It feels as though “convert” is a shameful and dirty word. However, the opposite is only the beginning of the truth. At Har Sinai as the Torah was given didn’t we all convert? Comments before mine also share this idea. We were all strangers in a strange land. Slaves. The lowest in status. Becoming a nation together. What I have also found is that in most converts, that I have had the pleasure of knowing, their fervor for Judaism is so on fire! They daven and study with such intent and kavanah. In fact Everything they do for HaShem is done with such meticulous respect. It’s beautiful and intimidating and I feel inadequate as a convert standing next to another in awe. Your neshama is Jewish. That Divine spark is apart of you. It is seen in your writing. Being Jewish is so painful. I have Jewish ancestry …. proof was/is not enough. I feel this marks me more negatively than compassionately. It would be such an honor to know you and everyone who has commented or read your piece with knowing understanding or with compassion. I am proud to be a Jew with you! This is community!!

    Reply
  31. Anonymous August 3, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Please be in touch if you are in Jerusalem. Would love to offer you a listening ear. y.elbaz09@gmail.com

    Reply
  32. Elisheva Marissa August 3, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I can feel your pain in the words that you share. To feel that your are in exile from the Jewish community that is in exile from eretz Yisrael is so sad. You are as Jewish as any FFB, Orthodox Born Jew. You are Jewish my friend. Halachically Jewish. To have your conversion questioned is terrible, and unfair treatment. The most painful feeling. I’m a Bal teshuva, and Orthodox, and have dealt with mistreatment within my own community, however not all communities are the same. Never give up! Remember the joy of the mikveh. Remember davening in your first shul…. Remember your first high holiday! A new year is coming my friend….Rosh Hashanah is so close. Sending you love and acceptance, and if you ever come to Milwaukee, you are welcome to break bread and drink wine my Jewish Orthodox home <3

    Reply
  33. Leah Sosa August 3, 2017 at 11:17 am

    I am happy that you found strength and courage in sharing your story with everyone. You see when you convert your neshamah feels the beauty of being close to Hashem. Hashem brings you very close to him. Then you will go through your first of many tests. This is a test for you. It’s when you don’t feel the presence of Hashem that you need to be even stronger, ask Hashem for strength and keep pulling through. The path of Hashem is not made to be easy. Its a road of tests. And every test comes at the right time. But while the student is taking the test, the teacher is watching. Be strong and please feel free to find me on FB and I would love to speak and mentor you as a fellow jew. Be strong for all of Am Israel…we are all connected.

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  34. Anonymous August 3, 2017 at 12:30 pm

    Hitbodedus can help. You say you sometimes ask Hashem for help. But what can help is, in addition to your siddur prayers, to just talk to Him…every day…for an hour, for 4 hours for 6 hours, whatever it takes to speak out your soul to Him, discuss everything, sing to Him, cry to Him, scream, laugh but tell Him your truth, your questions, your joys, your hopes, your pain. Find a quiet place to go — outdoors in nature where you can be alone, or wherever you cannot be interrupted. Our loneliness, our desire to belong, be connected, is basically a yearning to be connected, belong to Him. You are a Jew. You are connected to Him and to us. Isaiah 43:1.

    Reply
  35. Yaakov August 3, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    You returned (“converted” which really means returned) orthodox, right? You are a Jewish person. Your soul was at Sinai. We are strictly taught that anyone who returns as you did should never be reminded of that and only accepted as a Jew like anyone else. Whoever has mistreated you has been terribly wrong. Moreover, the one who returns as you did is to be particularly respected and praised because we know it is not easy. We are very familiar with “not easy”. I hope you can find a good and proper counselor to work on healing and hopefully slowly find a Jewish community that is accepting and supportive of you as a Jewish person, period. Please continue to remember even if you write a sign for your wall “I have returned” because that is what the orthodox “conversion” process is all about. It is about Jewish souls who were at Sinai returning to the Jewish people. This is absolutely central and necessary for you and everyone else to know. If people ask you if you converted, you say “I returned”. Period. “My soul was at Sinai and I returned.” This si very powerful and true statement.
    Again, please get some good counseling and find some orthodox Jewish people who can support your healing process. All you need are a few very nice and good people. They are out there for sure! May Hashem guide and strengthen you as you heal and truly return to your community and your people, the Jewish people.
    Your soul is Jewish and you have returned! Baruch Hashem, may you be strengthened in happiness. As Rebbe Nachman says “Never give up!!!”

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  36. Yaakov August 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    PS You and other Jewish people should know that it is a big mitzvah to support someone who has returned. To be gentle, kind and helpful to them. It is a big deal. Just as Hashem warns us to not do the opposite, so much more so that Hashem wants us to support those who are returning. What is returning? Teshuvah! All of us, if we are honest, need to teshuvah all the time! It is a lifelong process. Our tradition says that teshuvah was one of the things created before the world was created. Teshuvah breaks past all kinds of barriers that otherwise might not open. It is extremely precious and valuable. Rebbe Nachman says even just one thought of teshuvah is incredible. I don’t know if you read much Breslov/ Breslev material but it can be very inspiring, uplifting and supportive.
    The way you described how much you loved the prayers, books, rituals etc was very precious. Please Hashem, I hope that you can return to that place internally. Again, “don’t give up!” Go slowly and try to find even one small thing that you like in the Jewish tradition. Just one small thing. Hold on to that. Maybe it can help you with other things.
    Always remember: Your soul was at Sinai. That is huge. You confirmed it by the returning process you went through. May Hashem give you strength and shalom to continue and be bsimcha!

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  37. L August 3, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    you need to stay close to yourself and HaShem’s Love which is unchanging. If you feel (and probably are) marginalized, then that is not because of who you are. If you become happier with ‘yourself’ not visibly needing everything which ‘normal’ humans need, then probably some will feel more attracted to your presence, because sometimes people feel burdened with persons who may keep ‘needing’ them which seems to be a psychological matter. When you say no to abuse though that is also helpful in abusive situations, since narcissism is everywhere. You are entitled to sit where others normally sit in Shul and you don’t need to be addressed as a ‘convert’ because you are a Jew. When people can’t appreciate someone like you although they know that converts should not be bullied, then why would you want to be their friend? Similar things also happen in the non-Jewish world but it is less ‘obvious’; so for example someone who would be your acquaintance is possibly a bully to someone who is ‘outside of the box’ but you wouldn’t notice, now you notice ‘more’ and it is painful, but HaShem loves you still the same

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  38. Chaim Clorfene August 3, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    You deserve a vacation in Israel. Your Jewish blood will be very happy here. My understanding of mitosis is that as old cells die, new cells are born and it takes seven years to replace every cell in this body. Therefore, technically in physical reality (if there is such a thing) seven years after your conversion every cell of your body will be as Jewish as Moshe Rabbenu. I think you need to be with a better class of people than you will find where you are. Jerusalem and Tzfat. Your heart will sing.

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  39. Tzaftisha August 3, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    I live in Tzfat, and Tzfat for some reason seems to attract a lot of converts… and afik they are all welcomed and part of the community..and those are only the ones in the English speaking community, that I know personally to be gerim, as people feel comfortable enough to say, although I’m sure there may be many others who keep shtum..
    . may i suggest coming for a visit.. ? ?
    if your local Ashkenazi community is so unwelcoming and standoffish, have you thought about trying a Sephardi one? I understand that they are generally more welcoming and open minded in general, and more laid back, certainly I believe that is true here in Israel. The late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was apparently very open and welcoming to converts and didn’t feel that they should be held to ‘a higher standard’ than the norm for their community. Many Sephardi Jews here are ‘very traditional’ but don’t necessarily keep all the mitzvot, exactly to the letter, and certainly not stringently.
    As the kabbalists say, you are helping to elevate the sparks that exist in the world, by bringing them back into the Jewish community and help bring about the arrival of the Moshiach…
    Blessings

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  40. Anonymous August 3, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    According to the Ari true converts already have Jewish souls. The act of converting corrects the newest level of soul so you are actually on a higher level than the so called “born Jews”
    Perhaps your problem is you are trying to be religious instead of spiritual.

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  41. Anon August 3, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Don’t let it get you down! Be strong! Do not look down on yourself, or think or yourself as any less Jewish, ever.

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  42. Helen August 4, 2017 at 3:02 am

    I’m a “born Jew”, but I don’t practice, so in my book, this makes you tons more Jewish than me. It sounds like you’re probably not being treated fairly by people who should know better. You’re supposed to view converts as regular Jews. It also sounds like you’re not treating yourself particularly well. Why are you hiding in corners? You chose this identity, you like it, you worked for it, it’s a good identity, so have at it. Ask people why they treat you differently – maybe some are not conscious of their bias. But mostly, for yourself, please stop feeling or acting like you’re somehow lesser or not worthy. Sit down whenever you bloody well please – accept yourself as a Jew, even if some schmucks don’t. Get a big Star of David necklace instead of your small one, and please stop putting yourself in the back of the bus!

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  43. Tzvia August 4, 2017 at 8:07 am

    I’ve already written a comment above with some practical suggestions but I feel that I forgot to write something even more important.
    You wrote “…but then I feel the hopelessness again. G-d doesn’t love me, He doesn’t really care. Like the rabbis, and the people in the shul, the Jews I met on that Birthright trip, like all the Jews I know, if they don’t care, why would He?” – don’t let your anguish and bitterness misguide you into thoughts like these. G-d loves righteous converts and He loves you. Human beings have free will and sometimes make wrong choices and behave in a way that’s contrary to Hashem’s will. Just because some people or even a lot of people behave badly towards you it doesn’t mean that they represent’ Hashem’s “opinion” of you. They don’t.
    Having said that, even with Hashem’s love, sometimes we all meet difficult times and challenges that we can’t understand. One should always pour out one’s heart before Hashem and ask Him for help. Not just once or twice but every single day (I often forget it myself but I know that’s a mistake). It is said that Hashem caused Sarah, Rivkah and Rachel to be infertile at first because He desired their prayers. Through their tears and prayers they connected to Hashem and He blessed them with children, making them the Matriarchs of the Jewish people. When I was new in Israel, I was very lonely at first, not having any friends or relatives here. I asked Hashem for help, repeatedly, and well – I started meeting good people in the street and in all kinds of places and someone introduced me to a very welcoming shul shortly after. A family from that shul kind of “adopted” me. Other people became my friends. Eventually I met my husband. Thank G-d. But one should also keep in mind that G-d isn’t a kind of vending machine where you put a number of prayers in and then out pops your desired result. Some prayers are heard at a later time and sometimes the answer is “no”. We can’t understand G-d’s ways with out limited mind but it always pays to keep an open channel to Him. And He does care about you.

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  44. Ednah-Sarah August 4, 2017 at 10:45 am

    This post has stayed with me since I read it 2 days ago! ( I had to deal with a pressing health issue that found me back and forth to the doctor!) Now with relief I can write to you, Dear Sweet Kindred Jewish Soul! So much of what you have poured out from your heart has connected you to us, hopefully the love and compassion it elicited will serve to lift you from the deep doldrums of depression. Even if one post gives you a brief moment of hope, if it lifts you out of the fog for 5 minutes, PLEASE use those minutes to: 1) Ask the REAL GOD FOR REAL HELP IN A REAL WAY, immediately; 2) Find the number in your area for a Depression Hotline to get some help from professionals before it becomes a run away train to the Depression Depot. It’s not easy to get back from there, just trust me I know this from personal experience. I write from 20+years as a Ger/ Jew! A number of experiences you described I have had. A significant number of emotions and reactions you describe, I too have felt. And on any given day, I’m susceptible to them again, depending on my diet, exercise, meditation & prayers, hydration, fatigue, and commitment to “doing the work”, all the work required to be a Real Jew standing before the Real G-D. You poured out your heart, we took it to heart! You didnt ask for advice but Jewish love gives it freely. Find a rabbi who will inspire you– even if he’s not in your ‘community’, online or on the phone is still community! Get a learning partner, every Jew needs one! Warning: the good long term ones are not so easy to find, but worth the effort. Mine is actually priceless and one turned into 2 which has changed my life immeasurably for good things! If you really want adventures in learning that can lift a dark cloud and energize your mind I recommend Chassidus, books, tapes, online sichot, and the best I’ve experienced: thegateofunity.com with Shifra Chana Hendrie. She’s also got YouTube videos that help break through the fog!! Also Rabbi Manis Friedman helped me at his numerous seminars. These and more can be major tools in your Yippy for Yiddishkeit tool kit!! Maybe you will soon be able to post an update on your turnaround! It is entirely possible, until then I wish you happy yidding, and you are on my davening list from now on😘‼️

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  45. Elizabeth Inman August 5, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    Recently visited a holocaust museum and found a book called “The meaning of Life” written by Viktor Frankel. He lived and survived and wrote about observing the death and the tikun of his fellow born Jew. He was so forward thinking on how Torah showed in his concluding ideas for first understanding how we live through this tikun through our relationship with others and how our choices determine our souls essence through our journey in life for goodness through Love. Which is needed to survive our moments of loneliness and sadness. We can have healing of the mind, body and spirit for our souls sake to experience a sense of joy to be taking breath in every moment. I speak healing of your mind first and overall your heart. We have to be children again trusting Hashem has never left us as an orphan

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  46. Thomas Brooks (Abishai) August 5, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I’m sorry to read your story, and especially how you are feeling. Why would you want to be involved with people who treat you like that. Try Breslev, or Chabad, or other groups that will treat you differently. If your conversion doesn’t meet the standards of the Orthodox Rabbinate, then do it again if Aliyah is your goal. But most of all, stop feeling sorry for yourself. You are not helping yourself at all with this attitude. Your expectations were not met. That’s life. Move on.

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  47. Binyamin Aryeh August 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Kudos for reaching out and sharing your pain!

    I am an ultra-Orthodox convert, a Yeshivishe Yid. I attended yeshiva and taught in a yeshiva high school (a mesivta) for many years.

    I assure you, if you had an Orthodox conversion, you really are a Jew. Really and truly. The trouble you mentioned about Israel is beside the point; the rest of the world accepts you. You only need to step out in confidence and accept what is yours.

    May I propose that your pain over ‘not really being a Jew’ is heightened by depression? I suffered from Major Depression for many years, and recognize it in your words.

    Perhaps you would consider contacting an Orthodox rabbi, someone you trust, and asking him to set you up with a frum-from-birth Orthodox family? Such a family could be your extended Jewish family. I had such a family for many years; I stayed with them every Shabbos, and at least one day every Yom Tov. I attended every simcha they celebrated. Doing this really helped me feel a part of the Jewish world.

    Also, I don’t know where you live, but I might advise you that, believe it or not, the ultra-Orthodox world is much more accepting and nurturing of geirim than the Modern Orthodox world. If you are currently MO, you might consider moving to a more right-wing community, such as Monsey or Baltimore.

    Remember: You really ARE A JEW!

    Kol tuv!

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