Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just Mumble Under Your Breath

There's always that one person who asks too many questions at all the wrong time, even in your conversion class. But, besides that, the first class was good. I love that there is a couple in my class who is not Jewish and has no intentions of becoming Jewish. They just want to learn about the religion of their neighbors. I love that Judaism is open to everyone, not just Jews. There is light and learning for all.

As you might have picked up from earlier posts, my rabbi didn't turn me away three times as the tradition dictates. I was surprised how open he was, even for a Conservative rabbi. But, as he said, he doesn't make conversion easy by any means. We have 100 essay questions to answer by the end of the course in May. Some of them are simple. Some of them are not. I know most of the answers and have already started writing them out. If I finish very early and get bored I may ask for more. That's very nerdy of me but the point of learning with a rabbi finally was so I wouldn't be bored with my learning, so I don't want to go back to that point. The shul does this really nice partnering thing where everyone in the class who's converting is paired with a regular at Saturday morning services to help them along. Once the rabbi brought this up he looked at me and realized he never assigned me one. He seemed a little distressed but I clearly am not. I've been on my own in Jewish services for well over a year; we don't have to rush too much getting me a partner, though it might be nice to have someone's brain to pick whenever I have a random question. 

My rabbi is hilarious, which shouldn't surprise anyone, because he's a Jew. Basically, he made us a book for the class and he wrote several documents as well as including articles and prayers. The "Bluffer's Guide To Going to Shul" made my and several of my friends' day. The third point in bluffing your way through shul includes:
When putting on the tallit wrap it around your head for a few seconds while mumbling under you breath.
Fact. No one will ever know what you're saying because everyone mumbles it, so just mumble something. Mumbling can actually get you by in many situations... But, I digress.

Finally, our rabbi reviewed how his conversions are viewed. The reason his conversions stand in Israel is because he doesn't put the letter on the synagogue's letter head. If they don't know immediately it's a conservative synagogue, they just don't care. Clearly, they're not worried about "kosher" conversions, but politics. He also refuses to have a woman sit on the beit din because of the situation in Israel. He doesn't want to cause problems for his converts. When things in Israel and interdenominational relations change, he will gladly have a woman sit on the beit din. Amein.

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