This is a difficult time. Israel is at war and Jews around the world are upset. What I have read over and over again in the communications from Israel is that the Israeli population is determined and resilient. We must imitate that and learn to be resilient also.
A Jew by choice called me and told me he is feeling anxious and vigilant. He said, “Is it OK that I feel this way? I wasn’t born Jewish.”
I told him OF COURSE. You have cast your lot with the Jewish family. You are in this too. You feel the pain, the fear, the desire to help, the need to be among other Jews.
He said, “But I’ve never even been to Israel.”
I told him thousands of Jews have never been to Israel, but we still love the homeland of our people.
When a seeker approaches a rabbi about conversion one of the topics EVERY rabbi addresses is anti-Semitism. It truly is a concept that you can’t fully grasp until you are a Jew. You begin to note all the slights that are spoken, the casual demeaning jokes that you don’t find funny. You realize how pervasive and dangerous it is. I spoke to a rabbi yesterday who said, “Anti-Semitism is always there. Sometimes it is concealed, but it comes back.” I am becoming aware of how true this is.
How are you doing?
Are you anxious? Have you been able to seek out community and feel embraced?
Go to services. Receive and give comfort. Give your rabbi a warm word; they are working to comfort the entire congregation.
Do you need resources for talking to your children? Look here.
I’ve listed a number of resources here for how to assist Israel and how to get reliable news.
In this email I asked people to let me know what THEY are feeling.
Here are some replies ---
Thank you for sending this out.
My choice to convert in June 2011 was deepened by my visit to Israel October 2022 and my Adult Bat Mitzvah in December 2023.
As a Convert I am still new to blatant anti-Semitism that others easily recognize.
It can be hard to see it without a family history.
I appreciate the updates.
It is with a heavy heart that I write you this email. As we continue to read the horror of news coming out of Israel and the war. I echo Rabbi David Wolpe's comment as reported on an October 9th New York Times article:
Like others, he said he feared what lay ahead, and the likelihood that the toll would grow. “As a human being, and as a rabbi, the last thing I want to see is innocents dying for the decisions of their leaders,” he said.
I too, feared the amount of innocents dying for the decisions of their leaders.
I have been living in Europe, the epicenter of the Holocaust during WWII for almost a decade now, I can ascertain anti-semitism is real and always there. Think the new testament bible’s claims that Jesus was disowned and eventually killed by Jews, and even Shakespeare has his own depiction of the Jew Shylock that get immortalized by The Merchant of Venice... Anti-semitism just comes to the forefront into mainstream movement whenever there are social/economic stress.
As you mentioned anti-semitism is a part study during the conversion process. Personally, my peek into anti-semitism was back in the college time long before I started the conversion process. My response to the born-Jew or convert has always been -- When anti-semitism knocks on the door, it doesn't ask whether you are born-Jew or convert, right? So, we collectively have a voice in this.
- Binah Rut
I have no relatives in Israel, other than the family-by-adoption that all of us converts have. My friends need my unqualified support as they mourn and pray for lost loved ones in the south of Israel.
I have been marching and praying and rallying. My feet are worn out. I thought I’d hung up my marching shoes after the BLM protests a few years ago; I’ve been doing this for over half a century and hoped I could pass on the torch. But this is not a fight I can shirk.
As for how I am? I am furious. My first reaction was shock and grief, but that was quickly followed by a volcanic rage. I want to smite someone. Put a member of Hamas within my reach, and I will grant him the martyrdom he so desires. I am appalled, but in no way surprised, at the silence from my liberal friends; antisemitism runs deep in the DNA of all American politics, including the Left. Most of the time I can work around it, but right now I am discovering who my true friends are. Those who stay silent, and those who are trying to promote some kind of false moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel, are losing my friendship.
Otherwise, I am exhausted. And frustrated by some of the local rabbis, who seem to be more concerned with their religious schisms than with Israel. And they are utterly and completely clueless about how to raise the sympathies of the non-Jewish American people.
I hope all my friends and fellow converts are faring well. May God be with us all and Israel.
Am Yisrael chai
- Sarah Hineni
Thanks for the email. It is so difficult watching and feeling hopeless!
This spoke to me:
The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance has turned into mourning.
- Deah Zamar