The hoops that Jewish converts have to jump through are getting impossibly high




It happened when we were newcomers.


When my husband and I moved to a new area, we were eager to become involved in the Jewish community. After a few months of testing out a new synagogue, we decided to join. For us, the act of joining the synagogue was us formally declaring that we are a part of the local Jewish community and our way to affirm that we are invested in its continuity and future.


We filled out the application, which asks for basic demographic information from potential congregants; names, birthdays, parents’ names, etc. There was also a question about whether the applicants have converted or had a divorce. I answered the questions honestly; I had indeed undergone an Orthodox conversion prior to our marriage and indicated as such on the form. Several weeks went by before we were asked to come into the synagogue office on a Sunday afternoon for a meeting with the rabbi. He asked to meet during our daughter’s nap time, and still retaining a fear of rabbis leftover from my conversion days, we dragged her out of the house exhausted for this meeting. I had been trained during my conversion to never say no to a rabbi, to never push back. He offered us an inconvenient time, and I wasn’t confident enough yet in my interactions with rabbis to ask for another.


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