Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blatant Lying = What?

How does blatant lying fit into Loshon Hora?

What does Lashon Hara say about the following: Last Sunday, someone blatantly lying to someone else, to her face, about a 3rd person? (#1 lied to #2 about #3 {#3 being me})

#1 to #2 (my friend): [#3] told me she moved to [suburb community] and is finally converting!

#2 was put into a corner, and didn't know what to do. And of course #1 said this in front of a small group of people. FAN-tastic (<--sarcasm)

I told #2 that I haven't spoken to #1 since November. Or sometime just after the High Holidays. At least. But still.

So there's *absolutely* NO way I personally told her I'm converting in my new community. I never see her or anyone there. It's a shlep to go for Shabbos, as I don't know anyone there who has extra space for me to stay over.

Anyhow, how can I sort this out, since I'm the one being spoken about? What am I allowed to do to rectify the situation?

PS: This is a toeles situation.

PPS: I was just getting comfortable with MY community and this similar situation. Now I have to deal with people in a community I never see?! Ugh!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Background On Me

Here some background about why I haven't converted yet.

Overseas it had been impossible to convert. Before I went overseas, I involved in intense language study at a major university, and the rabbis there didn't like me.

One in particular, made an announcement about me to the observant Jewish community there, to the Observant students I'd befriended at Hillel. I found this information out during the Spring term of my first year there (Spring 2008) (the situation started September 2007). I then found out *more* information my 2nd Rosh Hashanah there (2008) {this more information was as follows: my best friend at Hillel was the one whom the rabbi wanted to announce this info about me, and tell everyone not to be friends with me} . This rabbi (aka Rabbi #1) also called my undergrad rabbi (Rabbi #3) who then called me, who told me that Rabbi #1 didn't want me at his Shabbos table until I bring him CRC paperwork.

I don't think what I did was wrong, even now.

I think that Rabbi #1 thought that it was my goal to sleep around with the Jewish guys or whatever (which is completely not my goal now or ever; only until after I'm married[and that's a personal, secular choice I made before I began to be observant)].

Rabbi #2 is okay with me, kind of. He said I could go to his home for dinner, as long I didn't date anyone. Which he told me to my face.

Yes, I had hung out with an observant crowd at Hillel the Hillel, and I have guy friends from Hillel, who are fine with me. They don't mind only my dad being Jewish. The few I was close to thought Rabbi #1 was crazy, but there were more people, 2 others I have heard of -- I was friends with one while she was there (she had since graduated) - whom he asked (to her face, I think!) not to come to dinner. So, the only place I can go is Hillel, but the Hillel rabbi is great! She's totally fine with me and doesn't like what happened. She was the only one I could talk to about stuff when it was going on, and she knew about everything as it happened. Unlike myself, who was told about some of the information in this post years after the fact (for example, Fall 2009).

Before, during undergrad, I was around 3 kinds of Orthodoxy: Litvish, Chabad, and Modern Orthodox (<--Rabbi #3). I started going to shul more after my dog passed away, and then Shul hopped between the Litvish Yeshiva (Yup, a yeshiva on the lake! If you know anyone with sons who would want to go, here's the website: http://www.witsyeshiva.com/) and Rabbi #3. I know one of the WITS families, but I mainly stayed with Rabbi #3. As I was around the 2 groups more, I learned about Orthodoxy, and the customs that they follow that the others necessarily don't, but mainly Taharat Hamishpacha and the sheitel thing. The Rabbi #3's wife got a sheitel and it looks really nice! Before I moved away, she let me try it on and I *loved* wearing it! I thought I wanted to before, but now after trying one on, I'm *so* looking forward to wearing one! :-)

So, after 3 years in the Upper Midwest (2004-2007), I went to a party school in the "Lower Midwest" (known almost as much for the basketball team as for its diverse and specific academics {in certain circles, anyway})), where I stayed for 2 years (2007-2009) studying crazy languages, before moving overseas for graduate school (2009-2011).

I was accepted to graduate schools in Toronto and Glasgow, and decided to move to the UK.
The Glasgow community was very nice, even though I only went to Garnethill for the High Holidays (http://haruth.com/jw/JewsUKGarnethill.html). If you click the link, the shul really *does* look like that inside! :-D :-) Oh, and if you trek up to go there, you *will* feel it the next couple of days. It's at at the highest point on a hill; you'll walk up windy, inclined streets to actually reach the shul, but it's worth it. The security got to know me after a few weeks.

I also emailed the London Beis Din, to see if it would be possible to convert while in Scotland, which it isn't. Then I went to Hungary for the 2nd year, and now I'm back in the US!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me!


What I learned this Weekend

#1: A roller coaster of emotions is definitely possible in a 4 hour period

#2: People can surprise you; especially when you least expect it.

#3: My Pesach meals - for the entire week - are pretty much set

#4: Girls don't make Kiddush for themselves. Period. Regardless if you're Jewish or converting. That's what guys are for.

#5: I have really great friends

#6: I'm a pro at Pesach cleaning. I know what to do now, as I spent 10 hours at a friend's house yesterday helping her and her family clean, put stuff away, and bring Pesach-ware down.

#7: I have a stellar Shidduch reference, whenever that time comes

#8: Oatmeal is NOT ha-adama. It's mezonos.

#9: I know the Bracha hierarchy (Ha-motzi, mezonos, tree, ground, Shehakol)

#10: Don't assume - this goes both ways though! How can *I* not do this, but other people can?

Helpful links:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Clothing Rant

So...what's with the clothing adaptation?

I just got a bunch of Spring/Summer clothes for work and shul.

Then someone, a guy, told me that I may have to follow my community's norms. Which don't have much wiggle room, since there are the 60 plusers, all in sheitels, in older-lady clothing, and then you have the school-age girls (middle and high school), who are always in long-sleeves and long skirts when I see them on Shabbos, and then me.

I should add to this that there are no girls my age in my community. I mean, they *were* there a few months back, but I haven't seen any of them for about a month. Which brings me to my next thing: Can I be friends with the guys at shul I talk to on a regular basis? (Regular basis being at Shala Shoedas). #1 is engaged, #2 is Single, #3 likes one of the girls I haven't seen in a month, and I haven't seen #4 in about a month.

I mean, I spoke to 1 and 2 motzei Shabbos, but I'm fairly certain I can't randomly call them up to say, "Hey, let's grab a coffee!" or just hang out. And I'm fine with that. It's better to hang out with people in groups.

I'm kinda' stuck! I mean, all of the ladies I've met, and told I'm converting, have been wonderful. Fantastic even! But there's a *huge* gap between them (all of whom have children between 3 and 21, collectively) and their school-age girls, the 60+-ers, the young marrieds (of which there are only a few), and me. At least clothing wise.

The youngest married ladies are early-mid 20s to 30s, but they're married. And/or expecting. All of us have different jobs-slash-careers, so our clothing is different. And that everyone is not on the same place on the Orthodoxy spectrum.

How can I be expected to somewhat...what's the word...adhere to community standards if all of the above-mentioned women (women in their 40s, over 60s, 20s+30s, rabbi's wife, scientists, interpreters, me) dress differently (different skirt lengths, different sleeve lengths, different sheitel lengths, [if they wear a sheitel], different stockings, and if they wear skirts, even.

What am I supposed to do?

A few weeks back, when I met with the Gadol Hador, he told me what the Halacha is. So now, how do I spot the difference between Halacha, Minchag, and Chumra, in the community I'm in? I don't want to re-Frum-out only for shul. That wouldn't be me. And that would be a complete waste of my tax refund money. Since I spent it on Spring/Summer clothes as I have none.

Ugh, what a mess!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Mamish Pesach drama!

But is currently getting sorted, Baruch Hashem!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Reactions Take 1

So, since my LOR wanted me to tell families in the community that I'm converting, I've started, slowly, begrudgingly, to do just that.

Although, since the few I've told so far, they didn't seem fazed by it. And all were fine with it.

I figured that my real 'test' was to be this past Shabbos. See, before - well, over the past few weeks - when I've told the first bunch, who are those who invited me to meals first, they've been fine with it.

So this Shabbos, my plan was to tell this family (whom I was over to once, a few weeks ago, after lunch, to just hang out and chit chat), and have it be nonchalantly, should it (more often than not) come up over the course of conversation.

It didn't quite happen like that.

The head of the household said Kiddush, then proceeds to hand out the cups. Yeah...I know about the wine thing, even though I don't drink, but I wasn't sure if I could touch the K. cups...I pass them along, and then wait for conversations to die out, so the husband can go wash.

Note: I know I refer to the husband twice in the above sentences, but of the one time I was previously over, I spoke with him more than his wife.

Anyhow, I asked him if I could speak to him for a sec before washing, and he says sure (of course, a bit more formally since I don't really know him that well).

So, since I have no other option here, I just sorta' say, y'know, "I was hoping to have this come up in conversation, but I just wanted to tell you that I'm converting with the Gadol Hador."

Him, with amused look on his face: Okay. I know.

Me, completely bewildered-doing-a-double-take: You *know*? [Inside this is my reaction: :-o :-o]. Did Mrs. X tell you?

Him: No. She knows?

Me: Yes, I told her a couple weeks ago.

Him: So, when will you be finished?

Me: I don't know. Everyone's different.

Then we washed, and all of us had lunch, but I didn't see him again. HOW DID HE KNOW?


I *so* wanted to talk to him about it!

I mean, hey, I was calm, I didn't get upset. I was proud of myself for that.

But how did he know?

I'm stymied...

The next people I told live next to Mrs. X. They asked me, "Why are you converting? Do you know Hebrew? When will you be done?"

We had a nice conversation/dialogue about it. Which had more questions for me to ask the GH.

Now, had I been more comfortable talking about this 2 weeks ago, and not so freaking out so much about it, I would have done the following for a Purim costume:
Made a sign or something that says, "NO, I DON'T KNOW WHEN I'LL BE DONE. CALL GH WITH YOUR QUESTIONS.!!"

Maybe not all in caps, but you get the idea

PS: When I first arrived for lunch, a group of us were sitting around the kitchen table, and somehow -- oh, that's right, it was one of the ladies' birthday -- and so, we went around telling when our birthday's are. My turn. I said I should have been born around Thanksgiving. And then the whole preemi story came out. Came out before I told the husband I'm converting. So I'm sure his head is spinning with all he learned about me in the first hour I was over at his house.

2 quotes came to mind just before the weekend: "Resist is futile" and "Be aggressive, be be aggressive [a teeny bit]"

So, I have no idea what's gonna happen next with all of this. But I'll be prepared for it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Gur Hasids and Sexual Separation


Friday, February 3, 2012

Questions for rabbis

I started a Word doc to keep track of the rest of my rabbi questions:

Reading Lamm's "The Jewish Way in Love & Marriage"..I came up with the following:

1.) "The dowry is distinct from property or possessions that the bride owns and continues to own privately throughout marriage...The bride's private property, called nikhsei melog, is given outright to the bride, the husband enjoying only the "fruit" (usufruct) during marriage. It is not part of the dowry and is not included in the ketubah."

So..the dowry doesn't include everything I have or have bought before the wedding? This 'private property' (which = what, exactly?) is given to me, which the husband enjoys throughout the marriage.

2.) What does 100 pieces of Silver = today? What about 200 pieces of Silver? Why not just a solid bar of Gold? Or a set amount of money? What happens if a Hungarian marries an Italian? Do they pay in one or both currencies? Or US dollars?

3.) ("This ketubah de'irkhesa is required, even today, for everyone who has misplaced or lost the original ketubah.")

Can you have 2 Ketubas? Like, have one framed at home, and then a duplicate in a safety deposit box, just in case the one at home gets destroyed?

4.) How complicated IS a Ketubah for converts? "The ketubah is a very complicated document, especially for widows, converts, and divorcees." Why? How so?

4A.) Perhaps because they get paid a different amount of money than never-married virgins?

4B.) Converts are considered to be non-virgins, because it is assumed by the Gemara that they had sexual intercourse during their time as non-Jews. And the law is stuck like that. That is why converts cannot marry kohanim.

Why does Halacha assume that all converts have had sex?

"trust the alleged parentage of a convert" - If I said my mother's Jewish I wouldn 't be converting. Why would something like that be lied about?

A friend's response to that:

The Talmud indeed says that if a person admits to something we would not have known otherwise, then we trust them, because they could have just lied. For example, the Talmud says, if a woman tells us that she WAS married BUT got divorced, then we trust her that her divorce is kosher, without proof, because she could have just lied and told us she has never been married. The Talmud's logic is, if you trust the person on one count, you must trust them completely, and if you do not trust them, then you must completely not trust them. So I wonder, why cannot we say that here? I.e., either we trust you when you tell us your mother is not Jewish, and so we should also trust you when you say you're virgin, or else, if we do not trust you about your virginity, then we should not trust you when you tell us about your mother.

either you lie about everything, or you tell the truth about everything. We either trust you or we don't. Either we trust you about both your mother and your virginity, or we distrust you about
both. We cannot pick and choose. Either you are telling the truth both when you say your mother is a gentile and that you are a virgin, or else you are lying about both. So I'm not sure why we do NOT say that, about converts, vis a vis virginity and marrying kohanim.

Today, You can’t even determine who is and is not a virgin.

Why does it matter if the woman is one or not? I can see why it mattered in ancient times, but today, there seems to be no reason.

5.) What about secular wedding ceremony traditions (father-daughter dance) - can they be incorporated somehow into a Jewish wedding? It's my dad, after all. And MUST my wedding dress be white? What's if it's slightly not?

6.) What is the difference between ha-adam and ha-adama (aside from one being a bracha)?

If my birthday is within the 3 weeks, how can I celebrate?

Before, says the rabbi. But after talking about it with a friend, I think I'll have a few friends over after the 3 weeks; maybe order Italian for it, or maybe just go to the restaurant, despite it being across town! :-)

Which brings me to questions about the 3 weeks:

-not allowed to shave.

I work in an office, wear stockings every day, and can't NOT shave. I'm not going to wear opaque black stockings for pretty much the entirety of July, I'm sorry. And as I don't wear trousers, not shaving is not negotiable.

and one about the 9 Days:

-refrain from wearing newly laundered garments, or laundering any clothes.

I can do all my laundry before the 9 days start, so I'll have clothes for work before and after.



Kohanim and Converts

This week, I found out why Kohanim can't marry Converts. It's because everyone assumes that converts must have slept around before converting, and as a result, are off limits to Kohanim.

I find this ridiculous! I can see why it mattered in ancient times, but today... no. Emailing about this with a friend, he said it's "awfully forward and brazen of me to say" that I haven't had sex. Wouldn't it be *more* so to say I have?

I mentioned this whole thing to the Mora d'Asra this week, one I'm comfortable around, and he said that that's another thing to let a Shadchan know (whenever I get to that point, that is). Just because someone is a BT, or a Convert, doesn't meant they've had the same experiences. As he put it, 'a party boy who found G-d after throwing up who knows how much liquor,' probably isn't going to be a match for a bookworm who hung out in the library.

He actually knows a guy like me, and whenever I'm done with this process, depending on the guy's age, academic background, and level of attraction, I'd be interested.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


My meeting with my new rabbi was fine.

Once I started telling him about me, I was less nervous. He was okay with me, too, and is fine with keeping things quiet. He surprised me though, by telling me that there are 10 converts in the community.

:-o Whoa! I don't know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn't that! :-p :-)

He offered to introduce me to the ladies, so I can spend Shabbos with them and see what they do, but I told him I'd think about it. If he tells them, I can't control who they would or wouldn't tell.

I told him what I know/do (Kosher, Shabbos Davening, Tznius, Shabbos [2 in-a-row now, except for 1 thing]), and what I need to work on (after bracha davening, weekly davening). I told him how I know about TH, and plan to wear a sheitel, and that I love that TH is his background! He seemed to like that, 'cause he smiled and laughed a bit when I said it.

I told him who the rabbis were where I lived before, and how I got in touch with the local Bais Din (Thank you, JewInTheCity! <3 ), and then how I came to his community.

He also asked me about my family, and their take on my frumming out a few years ago, and that my parents are split on the issue (aside from each other), though my mom's better about it than my dad and his side of the family. He also asked my age (27), and I said that, while I'm Shomer, even if I could date someone right now, there's no one TO date, 'cause I'm not interested in anyone.

I'm so glad he's nice, and that he's willing to keep my converting quiet. I told him how I see myself as a BT, because I've been doing a lot for awhile now. When he asked me if there's anything I don't like, I told him it drives me crazy when people talk to me as if I don't know anything!

He said we could meet every few weeks to go over Shabbos and Halacha questions, and I could get to know his wife. I'd like to. I guess now all there is to do is hit the books, and keep taking down questions! :-)

Shavua Tov!