I read the following communication on a Chabad website where people were asking questions about conversion.
QUESTION: "I know that ultra-Orthodox Jews do not think of converts as fully Jewish, although I did go to mikvah as well as do all the other things for my conversion."
ANSWER: Where could you have possibly gotten this idea from??? I'm shocked to hear someone is saying such things. If you had a conversion according to Jewish law, then everyone accepts that you are 100% Jewish. If your conversion was not according to halacha, then every possible type of Orthodox Jew doesn't believe that you are even partially Jewish.
The problem in your case may be that if you didn't have a rabbi that believes in the absolute binding nature of Torah law upon every Jew, then he cannot bind you to the Torah either. That is part of Jewish law, and at least as important as mikvah.
What I found particularly interesting is the last paragraph, stating that if the rabbi who converts you does not believe “in the absolute binding nature of Torah law upon every Jew, then he cannot bind you to the Torah either. That is part of Jewish law, and at least as important as mikvah.”
This answers the question, why don’t Orthodox rabbis accept the converts from other movements. I have always told people that it isn’t about them, it’s about their rabbi. It is important that a seeker understand that when they pick a sponsoring rabbi they are also picking that rabbi’s stream of Judaism.
I am also struck by the questioner’s comment that some see him as not “fully Jewish.” That is a very non-Jewish concept. Being Jewish is one of those yes or no states of being. You can’t be sort of Jewish. That said, many people entertain the idea of being partially Jewish.
What are your thoughts? Did you pick your sponsoring rabbi with the knowledge that you were picking their branch of Judaism?
Do you think of some people as partly Jewish?
Do you ever think of yourself as partly Jewish?
What do you think of the idea that Torah law is absolutely binding on every Jew – whether they abide by it or not.
Here's a conversation that resulted from sending this out in an email to all my Jews by Choice.
This is quite an unusual, but interesting question.
That reminded me of this one incidence some years ago. I was speaking with two brothers who were curious about the path I had to take and which movement I did my conversion under. I told them my Rabbi is from the Conservative movement as was my beit din, but my rabbi had gotten the agreement of a modern Orthodox Rabbi that we could use the mikvah at the Orthodox synagogue for the final conversion ritual.
This sparked a debate between the two brothers about whether I am Orthodox or not Orthodox. As you know, some people would only accept Orthodox conversion as a "true" conversion. One brother's view was that I didn't go through the Orthodox agency in Los Angeles or East Coast, so I don't have the "real" certificate to certify I am a "true" Jew. The other brother felt that I was "dunked" in the Orthodox mikvah, so I am Orthodox regardless of the paper certificate. I agree that was a very strange debate & discussion, but I didn't feel offended because I consider myself Jewish because I entered the covalent bond on my own will, regardless of the branch of Judaism.
You bring up an additionally and VERY INTERESTING point - does the location of the mikvah matter? One of the issues that Rabbi Dardik encountered as the rabbi of the Orthodox synagogue in Oakland, Beth Jacob, that has a mikvah used by the community is that many people assumed that being brought to an orthodox mikvah meant that they had had an orthodox conversion. Not so. Your status as a Jew is determined by the rabbi who takes you to mikvah. So you were taken by a Conservative rabbi and are therefore, Conservative. But here you tell me that it's not just the convert who is confused, so are the Jews!
I LOVE that you say you are not offended because you believe yourself to be Jewish. I will add that it matters what others think, and your entire community (and your rabbi) say you are a Jew. I guess you could say that swimming laps in an Olympic pool doesn't make you an Olympian. It's not about the water.
Yeah, I really think that as long as I regard myself as Jewish, and so is my community and rabbi, that is all that matters. I agree there is no such thing as "partially Jewish".