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November 14, 2014
 

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 14, 2014 , biggest challenges come O' By Uriel Heilman entage, said she was stopped a serious relationship with a same race, even if they have at the door of her in-laws' man from a Chabad family, nothing else in common. NEW YORK (JTA)--There synagogue by people who as- his father demanded to see Converts"receivetheabso- was the convert who was sumed she couldn't possibly her conversion papers and lute worst shidduch [match- barred from a synagogue on be Jewish. She ran back to her decidedherconversionwasn't making] recommendations Yom Kippur, the Jamaican in-laws' home in tears,kosher. Thus began a long for potential marriage part- convert whose boyfriend's Many Orthodox converts odysseytoconvinceherfuture ners, if they receive them at rabbi offered him a coveted contend that the Orthodox in-laws that hers was a bona all,"wrote Bethany Mandel, a synagogue honor if only he'd community is less accepting fide conversion. (Sarah did convertinher"Billofrightsfor dump her, the grandmother of Jews by choice than the not convert through the RCA Jewishconverts"intheTimes who told her granddaughter more liberal Jewish denomi- system, whose certified con- of Israel after the Freundel she'd be going to hell because nations, where converts are versionsarebroadlyaccepted, scandal broke. "A corporate she became a Jew. far more numerous, because she said RCA rabbis lawyer does not deserve to be The road to conversion In the first couple of days refusedtomeetherorrespond constantly matched with the can be long and difficult for after the arrest last month to her inquiries.) Eventually likes of a janitor just because many prospective converts of Rabbi Barry Freundel on herfuturefather-in-law'scon- hehappenstobeanotherblack to Orthodox Judaism, filled charges that he installed a cerns were assuaged, convert (yes, this happened with uncertainties and fear secret camera in the mikveh Back when she was study- to a friend on a serial basis)." about gaining final rabbinic at his Orthodox shul, Kesher ing for conversion, a rabbi Rabbi Zvi Romm, who approval. Yet even once they Israel, in Washington, D.C., offered Sarah an early indica- administers the Orthodox emerge from the mikveh as many of Freundel's converts tionthatfindingamatewould conversions in New York newlymintedAmericanJews, expressed concern that the not be easy. certified by the Rabbinical many find the challenges legitimacy of their conver- "The rabbi said to me, 'We Council of America, says the hardly end. sions would be challenged, don'thavemuchtoofferyouin demographic profile of most "Mostofmynegativeexpe- The Rabbinical Council of thewayofhusbands.Theonly converts doesn't make things rienceswereaftertheconver- America, the nation's main thing we would have to offer anyeasier:Mostarewomenin sion," said Aliza Hausman, a centrist Orthodox rabbinical is the bottom of the barrel,'" their late 20s and early 30s. 34-year-oldwriterandformer group, quickly announced she recalled. "When you convert at that public school teacher in Los that it would stand by Freun- Rabbi Yosef Blau, a Yeshiva age, you're at a disadvantage," Angeles. del's conversions, and Israel's University spiritual adviser said Romm, who expressed "I was really excited about Chief Rabbinate eventually who is among the 15 or so sympathy for the challenges [attending] my first bar mitz- offered similar indications, rabbinic volunteers who staff facingconverts."Thesepeople vah. But when I got there Orthodox converts say the RCA's conversion courts convert and they're all starry- the rabbi's shtick was that he it's not unusual to be asked in New York, says the courts eyed, and they have this very would tell the most derogatory to produce their conversion are very cognizant of the idealistic image of what the jokes about goyim he could papers--either by Israel's challenges of integrating Orthodox Jewish community think of," Hausman recalled. Chief Rabbinate, if they seek converts into the Orthodox is all about. Then they have a "My first Pesachwas listening to marry in Israel, or by a community--and wary of hardtimegettingdates.There to someone whose daughter Jewish institution, potential converting those unlikely to isacertaindegreeofprejudice was in a matchmaking situa- matchmaker or prospective succeed.That'spartlywhythe against geirim," Hebrew for tion, and out of nowhere she in-law, conversioncourtsrequirethat converts. starts talking about shiksas," One woman who asked to every convert have a sponsor- Conversion also can be a derogatory word for non- be identified only as Sarah ing rabbi, he said. lonely.Newtothecommunity, Jewish women, due to the personal nature "There has to be a sponsor- converts often have no place One Yom Kippur, Haus- of her experience said that ing rabbi so there's someone to go for Shabbat or holidays. man, whoisofmixed-racepar- when she became involved in who is gong to take respon- Yossi Ginzberg, an Ortho- Dana Hope Davidson and Ryan Blake Sokoloff sibility to keep up with that doxactivistwhoalongwithhis person after the conversion wife runs support programs takes placeimaking sure for converts, including host- the community accepts that ing them for Shabbat and individual fully as Jewish, has holidays, says the community a place to go to holidays, for needstomoreattunedtowel- example," he said. "It's hard coming converts- a mitzvah enough for a single person the Torah makes clear in pas- to function in the Orthodox sages about "loving the ger," community, which is family or convert. oriented. The convert doesn't Ginzberg says some of the have any of these support greatestresistancetoconverts mechanisms." comes from their own families. Unmarried converts often At a wedding last week for a are fixed up with the com- convert who remarried her munity's least desirables, con- Jewish husband just hours verts say. Non-white converts after formally becoming a Jew, say they are frequently fixed the bride's mother unexpect- up only with members of the edly refused to attend because Sudoku (see page 14 for solution) SUDOKU Dana Hope Davidson, daughter of Carol Davidson and the late Barry Davidson of Tamarac, Fla., and Ryan Blake Sokoloff, son of Carol and Marc Feuerman of Longwood, Fla., were married on Nov. 16, 2014, at the Lake Mary Events Center in Lake Mary, Fla. The bride attended Coral Springs High School and the Florida Atlantic University and will graduate in 2014 with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Dana currently works as a pre-school teacher at the JCC in Boynton Beach. The groom attended Lake Brantley High School and then the University of Central Florida, graduating in 2010 with a degree in Business Management. Ryan currently works in hospitality with CCRA Travel Com- merce Network. Following the wedding they vacationed in Sandals, St. Lucia. The couple will live in Boynton Beach, Fla., and will be moving to Orlando next year. you could save 28%" Cell 1-800-970-4376 to see how much you could sove on cor insuronce. * Notic.~31QvelQge O~r~JOI sovic'x3S bQsed on doto f~om customers who repor ted savings by switch~g to Esuronce belween 12/I111 c.~cl 4/30/12 esuronce on Allstate' company 8 26 49 5 45 832 2 9 9 3 1 6 9 578 93 2 71 85 4 ~! StatePomt Media Fill in the blank squares in the grid, making sure that every row, column and 3-by-3 box includes all digits 1 through 9. New to the community, converts go for Shabbat or holidays. Shutterstock often have no place to she was upset that her daugh- and make a lot of friends," ter had rejected Jesus. The Barker said. "People would mother eventually was coaxed always ask me, 'Are you Jew- into the Brooklyn synagogue ish?' or 'What's your Hebrew basement where the wedding name?' I never felt like I fit in." took place by interlocutors Barker immigrated to Israel who argued that her daugh- ayearafterherconversionand ter's conversion to Judaism said she immediately found a amounted to an embrace of warmembraceinhermultina- Jesus' original religion, tional Jewish neighborhood in Some converts say they Jerusalem, Butfouryearslater facehostilitywithin theirown she became ill, forcing her to families when they explain movebackinwithhermother that they can no longer eat in near Charlotte, N.C. Now she their parents' kitchen or face says her greatest challenge the predicament ofa sibling's as a Jew is her isolation. The church wedding (Orthodox closest Orthodox synagogue authorities commonly forbid is a 45-minute drive away, entering churches or attend- and it's Chabad, which Barker ing church services), says is not an ideal fit for her "The biggest transition for modern Orthodox sensibility. me was adjusting to always "It'sverydifficultformeliv- having to rely on close friends ingwithmy familybecause my for certain things, like the family is not Jewish," Barker holidays, especially since I said."I still keep kosher, I still come from an Italian fam- keep Shabbat. It's just not ily that's really close knit," what it was when I was living said Stephanie McCourt, an in a community." Orthodox convert in her 20s Of course, not all Orthodox originally from Connecticut. convertshavedifficulttransi- "Balance between religion tions. and family will always be a One Brooklyn man who struggle." asked to be identified only as Ariella Barker, a 34-year- Simcha said he was worried old single attorney, says that about acceptance before he after her conversion she would converted five years ago. But oftenleaveherlowerManhat- his fears turned out to be tan home to spend Shabbat unfounded. on the borough's Upper West "I have only had really good Side, home to America's people who were genuinely single-largest concentration interested in helping me, who of modern Orthodox singles, were there for me and contin- But the scene there felt like a ue to be," said Simcha, who is club in which she clearly was married to a Yemenite Jewish not welcome, woman, with whom he has a "I felt like an outsider. I child."Mostpeoplethatknow really couldn't break through me don't know I'm a convert." Special Shabbat service at Cong. Sholom Congregation BethSholom (the night of the attacks that invites the public to its Shab- started the Holocaust). Coffee bat service at 7 p.m. on Friday, and cakewillbe served follow- Nov. 14th. ing the service. The service, led by Rabbi The synagogue is located Karen Allen, will honor the at 315 North 13th Street in military service of our mem- Leesburg, with the entrance bers, family, and friends in on Center Street. For more honor of Veteran's Day. It will information see our website also include special prayers in at BethSholomFlorida.org or observance of Kristallnacht call 352-326-3692.