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Ask the Rabbi

Submit your questions for Rabbi Reuben here… while he can’t answer all of them, he’ll select some to comment on and post his answers on the site.

 

3 Responses to Ask the Rabbi

  1. Suzanne Gindin says:

    Dear Rabbi,

    My father is Jewish, but my mother was protestant. They eloped and we were raised without religion in our home. We celebrated Christmas and Easter for the tradition and food, but that is about it. My father’s family denied god after the Holocaust. I am about to become pregnant with a sperm donor who is Jewish. I am considering raising my child Jewish. Should I convert before the birth? If I don’t, can I still raise my child in the Jewish tradition? I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and relate most comfortably to that part of my life. I am a musician and a PH.D. which puts me in those circles. I would appreciate any advice you could give.

    Thank you.

    Suzanne

  2. Suzanne,
    Thanks for the question and sorry somehow I missed it and it took me this long to get back to you. As far as I am concerned you don’t have to formally convert, all you have to do it simply choose to raise your child Jewish and embrace Judaism as the spiritual path of your life. Since both the Reconstructionist (my movement) and Reform Movements have embraced the idea of “patrilineal descent” and affirm that someone is fully Jewish if either his/her father or mother is Jewish and they choose to practice Judaism, you will be fully Jewish in any synagogue that is part of one of those streams of Jewish life. However, both the Conservative movement and any Orthodox synagogue will not consider you Jewish unless you convert since your mother wasn’t Jewish. The same will then apply to your child, unless you take your child to a mikvah (ritual bath) after birth and convert the child in a formal way. If you have a concern about being accepted in the majority of Jewish movements you might consider formal conversion (and of course, we have just the book for you…) but know that within the Orthodox community only someone who is converted in accordance with strict Orthodox tradition by an Orthodox rabbi and bet din (rabbinic court) will be accepted as fully Jewish. It really depends on the Jewish community that you will embrace and how you will choose to live your Jewish life. I am happy to help in the future in any way that I can. You might check out my personal web sites as well http://www.rebreuben.com and http://www.interfaithrabbi.com for further information and ideas. with blessings for the New Year, Steven

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi there,

    So I began exploring Judaism in college for a variety of reason and that is when I fell in love with Judaism. It was a not only a religion, but a way of life that made complete sense to me. I started visiting the local synagogue in my city and loved the people and what I was learning. I was seeing a man at the time that was Catholic and he was wanting me to convert to Catholicism but I was never interested in doing so for many reasons and that relationship ended soon after. I continued my studying Judaism because I loved everything about it. My parents call themselves Christian and celebrate Christmas but they have always believed in a Higher Power and prayed. I never felt connected to Christianity, maybe that was because there are so many unanswered questions that nobody seemed to be able to answer for me or maybe it was the fact that there wasn’t just one God. Anyway, I have continued to study Judaism but have never been around enough Jewish people/been in a place I want to live longterm, to feel comfortable to convert and join a congregation. I recently started seeing a Jewish man. He is wonderful and he has expressed to me that he can not marry someone who is not Jewish and brought up the conversation of conversion. In no way did he ask me to convert or force me to convert but the subject was brought up. However, I have no idea how to tell him about my past with Judaism. I want to tell him but I also want him to know that my intentions are pure, regardless of our relationship. He currently goes to a Conservative Synagogue but only goes on High Holidays and Passover. I really want to talk to him about this subject but don’t really know where to start. Do you have any suggestions for me? From what I understand, the Conservative movement is the movement I am interested in. I have spoken with my family and friends about it and they are all supportive of me but for some reason I am not really sure how to bring it up with my boyfriend. I would like to speak with a Rabbi here in Houston also but have no idea where to begin.

    Thank you for you time,

    Elizabeth

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