Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fighting Slander

Anonymous wrote in his/her comments: "I accept that you are hopeless, but do not wish your twisting of a faith you obviously lied to join (there is no way a rabbi would convert you with your beliefs had you been truthful) to go unchallenged."

I find the attitude of this person condescending and somewhat offensive but this comment of theirs really got my hackles up and needs and deserves a response of it's own lest there be any misunderstanding. I bound myself to Judaism and the Jewish people with informed intent and honesty of spirit and will not allow this slander to go unchallenged. Does he/she not realize that people evolve in their beliefs over time or did they and everybody they know stop evolving at some point and have exactly the same beliefs they did 10 years ago? I didn't and don't.

I converted back in 1996 after 5 years of studying on my own and with various rabbis; not because I went from rabbi to rabbi getting turned down for conversion (before Anonymous accuses me of that) but because I wanted to see what denomination would be the most comfortable and realistic for me. Realistic I got, comfortable I didn't, not really. I would have gone Orthodox had I been living on my own since that is where I felt most comfortable at the time and for several years but reality bites. I am not in contact with any of those rabbis anymore since their lives moved on as did mine including physical relocation.

The person who is the rabbi of the congregation my husband and I attend, when we can, is my rabbi by virtue of the fact that she is the spiritual leader of the synagogue closest to us that we are comfortable with - which is Conservative btw. It has very little to do with what she thinks of my beliefs - we've never had the opportunity nor has she ever apparently felt the need to discuss them (or she would have dropped me an email or called me) and there wasn't an entrance interview when we started attending. We've tried to get together at some time other than Shabbat or yom tovim since there are things I would like to talk to her about on all sorts of Jewish topics but between not being able to leave Dad alone that long and the toll travel takes, it hasn't happened. As it is, when we do get to go down for Shabbat services, we go down and come back in the same day - 9 hours of driving for an hour long service. A few slices is better than no loaf at all. If I were to claim any rabbi as my spiritual leader it would be Rabbi Jill Hammer of Tel Shemesh although we have never met, there's little chance we will any time soon, and although we've corresponded I don't think she'd remember me.

I converted Reform for practical reasons and the rabbi I studied with for my conversion was very much aware that my adoption of Judaism wasn't because I was so much enamoured of Judaism per se as it was the organized religion that best fit my beliefs and fulfilled my needs and that I felt I needed the cradle of an organized religion. He, the senior rabbi and the third gentleman who sat on my bet din were apparently cool with that. Judaism still is the organized religion that most closely reflects my beliefs although that reflection is somewhat more indistinct now than it was then.

Anonymous can accept this explanation or not at their pleasure but that is what happened. I entered Judaism in good faith and I will not allow slander to go unanswered.

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