Sunday, December 10, 2006

Call me crazy ...

Every Reform convert I know (and I know a few, by golly) went to the mikvah, sat with a beit din and had a formal ceremony at the shul. But this article, which discusses the importance of Orthodox rabbis accepting potential converts, says the following:
The Reform movement requires that the potential convert agree to observe the commandments (according to Reform standards) and participate publicly in the community, but they do not require mikvah or milah. The movement recommends that the potential convert be made aware of mikvah and milah, and that a Reform conversion would be unacceptable to Orthodox Jews.
I think it's the "according to Reform standards" that drives me nuts. Yes, the Reform movement is not binded to the 613 commandments as Orthodox Jews are, but then again, many Conservatives are not either.
Yes, it's just one article in one publication in one point in time, but damnit, they make us sound like lepers!

I once had an Orthodox Jew ask me HOW I could be reform. I went to shul regularly (when I was able to, that is), I kept kosher (to an extent), I had strong feelings of faith and dedication to the House of Israel. HOW could I be Reform, he asked. Of course, it never clicked that I was a convert. I think it would have blown him away to know I was both a convert and Reform. But it was the Reform movement that embraced me, took me in and let me grow in their midst. I went to a Conservative shul and felt outcasted by the rabbi and long-time members. So I converted through the Reform movement because there were classes, there was discussion, there was learning and faith and a driving force of community. Yes, sometimes I wonder if my beliefs are more in line with the conservative-leaning Jewish "brances" ... but I don't judge.

Wait, I take that back. Yes, I frown on the Jews I know who don't know enough about their culture and religion to truly embrace it. The twice-a-year Jews or the ones who use the word to describe themselves yet can't define what the word means. I look at people who were born into such an amazing community and yet do not embrace or understand it. Who don't even try! Then I remember not everyone has the passion, the desire. It's one of those feelings I wish everyone was could experience. My judgement comes as a result of jealousy, I suppose.

I didn't have a baby-naming ceremony.
Or go to Hebrew school.
Or have a bat mitzvah.
Or go to Jewish camp.

It's like ... taking something for granted. Taking this amazing connection to something for granted. It boggles my mind.

Anyhow. I am Reform. Get over it. Someday I might convert Orthodox, and I've thought about it deeply. There's a lot there I want to explore. But right now, I'm okay with my "movement." We're all Jews, you know.