Floored.

I just got back from an off-site meeting with some of our contractors. When I was headed out, one of the guys I worked with at many community events introduced me to a new employee of theirs with: “this is the one I was telling you about, the one who converted in May. She works on events and social media monitoring with us.”

“Yeah. Well see, I don’t really believe in conversion, nothing personal. You’re born Jewish or you’re not. I mean, if you died today, who would sit shiva for you?”

Floored. As I said.

And then, overwhelmed, with the realization that she’s right.

I think that’s what sucks the most right now.

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7 thoughts on “Floored.

  1. Deep breath–take one. Another one. Maybe one more. Okay…

    First of all, the person you were being introduced to is 100% halachically wrong. As per Torah, you are not simply “born Jewish or not.” See: Ruth. Not “believing” in conversion is not “believing” in Torah. So in perspective, they’re an idiot. Chillul Hashem and all.

    Second, the person introducing you had no right to “out” you as a convert, especially in a business setting. At all. That’s like you introducing him and talking about his past sexual history. Totally personal, no one else’s business, and shame on him for doing so. So, in perspective, he’s an idiot, too.

    Finally, just because we are required to sit shiva for specific relatives does not mean we are restricted from sitting shiva for anyone else. Converts touch many people, right to the heart. I think that’s part of the role of the Jewish convert. I am very fairly certain many would sit–and stand–in your name.

  2. A lack of parents or siblings to sit shiva for you does not in any way make you less Jewish. I agree with Mike. She’s an idiot who either chooses to disregard Judaism’s stance on conversion or is completely ignorant of what it has to say. Either way it was rude for him to point out you are a convert and certainly beyond rude for her to express how she feels about conversion.

    Did you respond? I think you should let him know it was in appropriate and not to do it again.

    And you were born Jewish, whether your parents were or not.

  3. Pretty much what Michael and Dena have already said. Personally, my first reaction would have been to say, “Oh, so I take it you wouldn’t consider someone who has no children and whose entire extended family were killed in the Shoah Jewish either, right? I mean, since there’s no one around to sit shiva for them.” The woman sounds like someone who doesn’t know a thing about halacha and, if I were going to guess, probably isn’t especially observant, so she’s defensive at the idea of someone who actually chose to be Jewish and, y’know, do stuff. I would have really wanted to choke her, so props to you for handling that better than I would have! The thing is, it doesn’t matter if she “believes” in conversion or not. She can choose not to believe in the moon, other, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    Also seconding the comments about the guy who outed you to this woman being way out of order. I think it would be worth taking him aside and having a long conversation about exactly why that is not on, though maybe seeing the way you were blindsided by this other person brought that point home already. It’s not his jurisdiction to just be casually telling people, “Oh, yeah, so-and-so’s a convert,” no matter how open you choose to be about your status. It’s your choice, not his. What was his reaction to what this woman said to you? He should have been rushing to tell her how out of line she was being and apologizing to you for putting you in a position to be blindsided like that.

  4. Ok I am so disturbed by that conversation. Totally echo what the other commenters said. Allow me to add one point: there are many people we love that we don’t sit shiva for. I never sat shiva for my dad because I was 6 when he passed. A best friend, sister in law, child in law, a dear stepparent – all fall into that category. Be floored by the ignorance and total social misstep here. But you’re wrong that she’s right.

  5. Pretty much what Michael and Dena have already said. Personally, my first reaction would have been to say, “Oh, so I take it you wouldn’t consider someone who has no children and whose entire extended family were killed in the Shoah Jewish either, right? I mean, since there’s no one around to sit shiva for them.” The woman sounds like someone who doesn’t know a thing about halacha and, if I were going to guess, probably isn’t especially observant, so she’s defensive at the idea of someone who actually chose to be Jewish and, y’know, do stuff. I would have really wanted to choke her, so props to you for handling that better than I would have! The thing is, it doesn’t matter if she “believes” in conversion or not. She can choose not to believe in the moon, other, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.
    +1

  6. That’s such a horrible and hurtful thing to say. It may be true, but your Jewishness isn’t measured on such things. That person was heartless to even point this out to you in the first place. As for not “believing” in conversion, they obviously don’t believe in the authority of Hashem, either, seeing as Hashem certainly “believes” in conversion!

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