Thursday, October 29, 2009

Comment on a comment

I just clicked off on a comment that I cannot now find.

Someone anonymous said that converts shouldn't comment on conversions because we're biased.

1) This is a blog, not a legal forum. I have whatever opinions I wish. If you don't like it, don't read my blog.

2) Opinions on this issue held by converts and conversion candidates run across the spectrum. Some are permissive to almost anyone who wants a conversion. Not everyone who wants an Orthodox conversion should be converted. However, there are converts who will encourage a woman with a Facebook profile picture depicting her breast falling out of the skimpy dress she is wearing in the picture.

The other half of the comment said that converts are lesser creatures and this is proved by the fact that they can't marry kohanim.

Do NOT be so ridiculous! I'm sure this person thinks less of divorced women, too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

comment on old Ivank/conversion post

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...
I didn't have a dime to my name and the rabbis at KJ worked with me. They were nothing but amazing. Don't judge all rabbis by a couple of bad apples. Don't judge all converts by a couple of bad apples. And don't judge all Jews by...see where I'm going? People should be judged, if they are judged, as individuals.

Michal says:
My commenters think she (Ivanka) was pushed through for money. I do not. KJ has a plethora of rich donors to choose from.

The sad truth is that the RCA doesn't hold the GPS standards they claim to hold. They convert people who need more time or who shouldn't be converted at all in timeframes insulting to Orthodox Jewry.

What happens when Israel realizes this? They will stop accepting RCA conversions and retroactively. RCA converts from these new "safe, unquestioned" conversions will face the same problems we had before. RCA needs to clean up their act or sincere converts will be burned.

Conversion standards: why R. Lookstein said they are too strict

Fellow blogger, Aliza Hausman, was kind enough to link this article to a comment on the blog post from when I asked if the new RCA standards are too strict.


The rabbi criticizes that these standards will make it harder to convert.

IT'S SUPPOSED TO!!! It's supposed to weed out people who shouldn't be converting.

“The consideration seems to be to make sure that nobody enters the Jewish people unless we are absolutely certain of their present and future adherence to the full range of halacha [Jewish law],” says Rabbi Lookstein.


Rabbi Lookstein also expressed concern that the rabbinic judges could be looking to find reasons to reject a prospective convert rather than welcome her.

THAT'S THE POINT!!!! We are NOT looking for converts. We accept sincere converts but, we are NOOOOOOOOOOOOOT looking for them.

Rabbi Lookstein doesn't like the fact that a sponsoring rabbi doesn't sit on your beis din. Let me tell you something, GPS (the name for RCA's new standards) candidates meet with the av beis din and their sponsor rabbi is there before they meet with the whole beis din. They spend MORE time in one session (about an hour) than my first sponsoring rabbi gave me in the year he was "sponsoring" me.

Overall, says Rabbi Lookstein, the new system makes unnecessary demands on potential converts, and discourages them from joining the Jewish people.

Unnecessary demands? Like Orthodox day school? What observant shomer Shabbos, shomer kashrus FFB, mother keeping purity, Jewish parent(s) would in their right mind send their functional children to public school?

Lookstein says, “suddenly, we’re worried about all these imperfect converts joining the Jewish people. I’d venture a guess that the most imperfect convert an Orthodox rabbi will convert would probably be far more observant and religious than 90 percent of American Jews."

Since when do we measure Orthodox standards by what Conservative, Reform and UNAFFILIATED Jews practice?

Rabbi Lookstein,

Do you have any IDEA how many times I've heard about and read about those who converted to Judaism (some verified Orthodox conversions) and it was just a phase... That's nice, this year I'll convert to Judaism, maybe next year I'll collect stamps. My best friend from the first time I went to college told me, "you're converting to Judaism? I have a friend here who converting in Israel, but she's Buddist, now." Raise your hand if you think converting her was the right decision for those rabbis. What? That's a really low hand raise. You mean you don't want to raise your hand? What? Someone was converted too easily? NO WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY! Do you hear my cynical and sarcastic tone when you read that? I hope so.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ivanka and her big fat "Jewish" wedding

Again, Ivanka's conversion was not a full year. She is not dressed like an Orthodox Jewish woman in her wedding dress. Her elbows are not covered and see through lace doesn't count as covering the body-not by Orthodox Jewish standards. She wants to marry Jared.... fine, but don't make a mockery of Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox conversions.

Lookstein just did the conversion for politics. He wants conversions watered down until they are handed out in a Cracker Jack box. For those who don't know, Lookstein and Avi Weiss were very outspoken last summer that the new RCA conversion standards were too strict. Incidentally, the RCA hasn't been holding by the standards they espouse on paper, so why should anyone be upset that they are too strict? They don't count because they are just on paper.

One last thing: sorry guys, but the RCA standards do allow conversion for marriage. However, they claim they require 2 years minimum which they did not do in Ivanka's case and another case of which I know.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Michal on stay at home momming....

So, fellow blogger, wrote about the whole "what do you do?" question which sort of touched on stay at home moms. She mentioned how an author/speaker/psychologist would tell people she was a stay at home mom if she wanted to be left alone on Shabbos. I can't remember who this was, but, I read this in one of the woman's books.

Anyhow, the topic came up of how stay-at-home-moms don't get any respect because respect is equal to yearly income with allowances made for those who obviously have a degree but make crap because they have a warm fuzzy job (teacher, social worker etc.) Somehow, though, people are not respecting the warm fuzzy job of mom.

I wonder if this has something to do with what people hire to watch their kids. I'm talking about these cut rate nannies that most Orthodox Jews can afford. Before you pile me up with your hate mail people, I do know that there are some decent nannies out there. My best friend from college (college the first time) worked as a nanny for a year after her bachelor's so that she could pay off her loans before going on to get a master's. However, many people hire nannies that well, are not as good.

Personally, I've had way too many experiences being at someone's house with their nanny. I've been told how children are spoiled and should be beaten up on a regular basis. One nanny told me she hates Jews with every fiber of her being. My friend's nanny says that most nannies let the children walk outside with no shoes on and in cold weather. Furthermore, I would be seriously worried about leaving a non-Jew in my kitchen. People always say, "but they know kosher better than Jews." Perhaps they do. However, that doesn't mean they keep it when we're not looking. I think only a Jew (or a serious conversion candidate) would care about keeping your kitchen kosher. That's why smart people hire Jewish Immigrants who barely speak English.

Maybe I'll find two college kids and have them split the schedule so that each works half the week or so, that is IF I ever have kids. (See last post and my resolution to have popsicle babies instead of getting married.) Personally, I would prefer to stay home with my kids and not send them to day care. I was thinking I could homeschool my kids for most of elementary school. At the rising cost of these day schools and the declining wages in this economy, three or four kids would break even... So, maybe I would send a kid or two to dayschool but, a brood I would homeschool. I guess it would depend on how much I would be making when I started having kids. Again, this is if I ever even have kids. I'm so fed up with people thinking they can nag me into getting married, I'm liable to stop dating. Oh, wait, I'm a woman, I don't get dates....

Another thing about why I should never marry...

Go on Craigslist, into personals, men seeking women. Type search, "frum" and see how many of these married men are looking to play around.

I'm in no hurry to get married. Maybe once I have a career, I'll have me some popsicle babies.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Shidduchiim strikes again

So, I spent Shabbos at someone's house, as I often do. They had an agenda. The agenda was to badger me into finding a marriage partner. Don't these people understand that it's not in the woman's hand to do these things. They seemed to think that if I called the shadchans and harassed them over and over again, they would actually find me someone. Sure, they'll find me someone. They will say to themselves, "she wants someone, I'll give her someone-someone she doesn't want so she'll leave me the hell alone. Let's see, do I have any 50 year old men for her.... anything she won't want.... maybe I'll call her with a guy who doesn't keep Shabbos."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Shidduch crisis on VIN

So, one of the blogreaders sent me this article:

One comment, comment #125, I found interesting.
Anonymous Says:Says:
“ Halacha requires a man to marry in order to procreate, and if he hasn't yet fulfilled the Mitzva to "be fruitful and multiply" he is required to divorce his wife if it becomes apparent that she cannot bear children.

Can anyone explain then why shaddconim, apparently with the sanction of many Rabbis, regularly encourage healthy men in their 40s and 50s to accept shidduchim with women who are well beyond childbearing age? If they were already married the halacha would call for them to divorce, any yet in today's day and age these are the only women who are being suggested to such men (I know from personal experience)!

Clearly a major part of the 'shidduch crisis' is because women are now being openly discouraged from marrying older men - a problem contributed to by the sentiment in the proclamation signed by these 60 Rabbis.

Women today are being taught to give no thought to their own ticking time-clock, which naturally makes them incapable of having children at a much younger age than men. If we would go back to Torah-based priorities there would be much less problems.”

I respond to this man.

There you have it!

Men figure that they are supposed to have children so they just dig in their heels and refuse to give serious consideration to age-appropriate women. They wait until they are over 40 and then they say, "but, I want to have children, so I need a younger woman."

I suspect the difference in the numbers isn't as bad as people think. For one thing, while there is always a ton more women on the shadchans' lists that go around. Wouldn't that happen if women were getting on 10 lists and men were only getting on 2? I think that men are less likely to go to a shadchan because they want a girl based on her being young and pretty. It seems like men tell me their friend is getting married and they say, "she is X number of years younger than him." What does she do? Where is from? They don't know. They only know if she's young.

I see a trend that Ashkenaz men are willing to marry non-American women, such as Bukharian, Georgian and Hispanic girls they take in to the rabbi for conversion. However, American women are not interested in these men (if you know any, you know why).

The fact that modern people aren't getting married because they already getting it on, is a contributing factor. I think those who marry younger, though, are more likely to cheat. It's usually men from Boro Park on Craigslist looking for someone. I doubt they are single.

The other problem is that, come on, people said this, they keep telling men there's more of them than women, it's a crisis so the men get pickier and pickier because they figure they can. Women, like me, figure we will stay single before we will spend the rest of our lives with someone we don't want.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are the RCA standards too strict? What do YOU think?

It seems as though, most converts and conversion candidates are upset about the fact that a convert is expected to live in a Jewish neighborhood. A convert who is not white told me she would not feel comfortable in a white neighborhood. Many countless others are still living with family members: grandmothers, brothers and, of course, parents.

See number 6, section c

Another thing they are upset about is that they are looking for 350 hours of study minimum. Please note that since it is recommended that a conversion take two years, this is less than a half hour a day.

Did I mention that when I started my conversion and I called around, the Reform synagogue told me they required a minimum of one year for study before conversion? Did I mention that the RCA has been converting people in ten months. Not just Ivanka, but, I know of someone else who converted in less than a year through the RCA beis din.

What does everyone think? If someone converts with kids, should it take longer or shorter?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The beef is not with Ivanka...

The fact is that Lookstein was VERY outspoken about the RCA standards. He said they were too strict. So, then he goes and takes on this high profile conversion and spits is out in about 10 months knowing full well that people will know it was a quickie. This isn't about Ivanka. This is about Lookstein lowering the standards for political reasons and ignoring halachah in the process.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ivanka Trump and her conversion came up at the Shabbos table..

So, the person who had me over for Friday night dinner had just got up to speed that Rabbi Haskell Lookstein of Kehillath Jeshurun (KJ) converted Ivanka Trump. We discussed this before on the blog. She's not dressing tznius. Someone put pictures that had been taken post conversion up on the comments for this blog and they were a slap in the face of the Jewish concept of tznius. Some people at the table said, "well, the other girls at KJ aren't tznius, either." Perhaps, this is true, but, someone converting is supposed to be held to a higher standard.

So, I'm just wondering if anyone still has an opinion about this?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Culture shock for the convert: Jewish nosiness

So, in my Yahoo group for women converts/conversion candidates we're discussing how people who are Jewish from birth ask things so freely that we would never in a million years think of asking. Another thing we were discussing is how people ask (especially Jews of color but, even caucasians like myself), "how are you Jewish? You don't look Jewish." Well, along comes one of the readers of this blog on to my Facebook page-dafka I moved from this discusion to check my Facebook and there it was-the comment.

You see, I went horsey riding with 7 other girls from the Hillel at my college and I put up pictures. Right there, under the group picture was a comment asking if we were actually Jewish. Why? It just so happens that many on the trip were Jews of color or Sephardic. Now, culturally, the way I was raised, I would never do such a thing. The person should have at the least messaged me and asked me. It's funny though, by the time I saw the comment, there was already a comment from one of the girls, but one of the "cliche Jewish look" girls from the trip. I suppose having friends in this situation, they learn their friends' plight. It's good to see.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Guest Poster: Shidduchim, dating, marriage

Shidduchim, dating, marriage: My philosophy and thoughts Part 1Share
Yesterday at 10:49pm
by Ari Stern

I don’t believe anyone who I consider a friend needs to share my beliefs or even my values. The only things I can think of that would disqualify one from being my friend are age and music-taste. Just kidding. They are disloyalty, dishonesty or just general untrustworthiness. Oh and they have to value our friendship. I think that’s it.

Anyhoo, I have this real yeshivish friend who basically spends most of our conversations explaining to me how messed up my philosophy of Judaism is. So lately I was telling him that I think Frumster is the best dating-method for me, and he looked like he was going to faint.

“For hundreds if not thousands of years, all our ancestors got married through shidduchim, but then along comes Ari Stern and decides he knows better than Jewish tradition.”

So I tell him why logically it just makes more sense and it’s more pragmatic, but he doesn’t let go.
“We have a mesorah to do it the way our community does it and you have no right to go against our holy mesorah.”

So I told him “For thousands of years our holy mesorah dictated that we have no refrigerators, and along comes our new age and decides it’s okay to have refrigerators.”

He stops to think for a second, and then he says “so you’re saying if computers and internet existed in prior times, our ancestors would use that method?” I say yes. You can see he looks puzzled. He’ll ask his rosh-yeshiva about that. I cannot wait to hear what he’ll say. ;-)

Then I was having this discussion with someone else, and she was saying she wouldn’t hold her husbands hand after she got married (in public). I ask why and she says it’s not totally tznius. I ask why and she says because it gives away too much information to the public; she’s basically announcing she is not a niddah and that is just too much to share.

I always wondered how a lot of Chassidim said it’s not okay to hold hands in public, and yet they hold hands right after the chuppah. They even DANCE in public on their wedding night (mitzvah-tantz). If it’s okay to do it on your wedding night, why not every other day? But now I think I see how it’s not a contradiction or a hypocrisy, everyone knows she’s not a niddah on her wedding night anyway. Cool.

The problem is, according to the above, why doesn’t the couple kiss under the chuppah? Is your love and exclusivity private or not so much? Furthermore, does this mean that anyone who holds of the halachic opinion that touching in public is announcing that she’s not in a state of niddah and is therefore not recommended- do they concede that if the couple is, say, in Taiwan on vacation (or any other place where the people don’t know about niddah and therefor won’t come to any conclusions based on them touching), that it’s okay to be publicly affectionate?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yontiff table buzz

The yontiff tables were abuzz with people asking, "what did Obama do to win the Nobel Peace Prize?" Unfortunately, it seemed as thogh the women asked the men this and the men shut down the conversations. Don't they know, I was anxiously awaiting heated discussions so that I would have more to blog?

So, I turn to you, my viewing public for comment and discussion... well, everyone but poop. Poop can keep comments to thineself.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another chunk of my conversion story....

So, I started with:

And then I eventually continued and left off with:

So, now we're up to the last leg of my conversion that I never wrote about. When I left off, I had just started going to shul before work and I was looking for a new conversion rabbi so that I could change shuls from the shul were the women tried to force me to date men I wasn't interested in and they wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

So, I found a new program in Manhattan and started attending their classes. Then I changed shuls in my own neighborhood. I really liked the services at that second shul a lot. The rabbi from the shul by where I was working started having me for Shabbos sometimes.

Eventually, when I still wasn't converted, one of the women from that area who knew a rabbi who does conversions, arranged for me to work with him, instead of the program in Manhattan. I was getting the run around from them so, I changed again.

The timeframe in the above writings is from January of 2008 to just after Pesach. You with me? Great! I got laid off from my job RIGHT after Pesach. So, then I had a long summer of waiting and agonizing. There were people in my neighborhood telling me I shouldn't be converted. One woman said that only the best should be converted and who did I think I was, thinking I deserved to be converted. I was told I don't make enough money to be converted. The list of nasty comments goes on. Luckily, I had my supportive friends from that neighborhood where I used to work.

I converted just before Rosh HaShanah of 5769.

Watch some yeshiva boys dance

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Community spotlights: Kew Gardens Hills

I put on the blog a while back that I was going to start spotlighting communities. Well, I'm going to start with what I know best: Queens.

The Jewish "Capitol" of Queens is Kew Gardens Hills or KGH for short. KGH is where I would tell most anyone to look at, if they were looking at communities in the greater New York City area. The people are friendly. Shopping and shuls are convienient in this tight knit area.

People are incredibly friendly in this area. You will never have problems getting a Shabbos or Yontiff meal. In fact, there is a hospitality commitee for singles and I believe some of the shuls have one, too. You won't need it for long, though. As soon as you start meeting people, they will introduce you to others. Also, people who see me a couple times invite me over. For Sukkos, I had plans to go somewhere else but the person who invited me wasn't giving me the details I needed. At around noon on Friday, I picked up my phone and made two calls. They offered what they could and then made some calls for me. Within two hours, I had an overnight and all my meals in a Sukkah scheduled in KGH. Do you really think that would happen with any other area?

Main street, the community's shopping district is large enough to have two clothing stores (one expensive-Eishes Chayil, one more affordable-ELZEE.) There are three main supermarkets: Supersol, Brach's and Wasserman's. Supersol is the most expensive but, they have the most vareity and a parking lot. They also have normal hours. Brach's is the cheapest for most things but they close early (7pm?). Wasserman's is open at all crazy hours-ok, till about 11 or 12. They have delivery and phone orders with a credit card on Thursday and Friday, maybe Wednesday, too. I don't use this service. I was told about it.

On Main Street is not just these stores but, many restaurants and take out places, as well as other Shomer Shabbos businesses. I would also like to mention that off-Main street on Jewell, is a kosher Subway. This one has tofu based, parve cheese. The ones in Brooklyn do not. On Shabbos or Yontiff, the metal gates are down across Main Street and Jews cover the sidewalks. Occasionally, a non-Jew drives by. The area boast something like 35 to 40 shuls and Schteibles. Most homes have a driveway and/or a garage behind their homes. There are block-lengthed "driveways" that run between the streets so that these homes garages can be accessed. There is also on-street parking. Incidentally, the restaurants in this area put up sukkos for the holiday. That photo is the sukkah from Shimon's Pizza.

Renters generally rent in 2, 3 and 4 family homes. This means that sometimes people have access to a front or backyard as a renter. Although, this may only be restricted to an area where you can put out a kiddie pool or a Sukkah, it comes in handy. Speaking of Sukkos, the streets and the driveways behind are lined with sukkos for the holidays right now. There is a community-wide eruv so, there is no need to attach the sukkah to the house or to build an eruv around the property.

Incidentally, the Hamodia Magazine recently spotlighted KGH, as well. They spoke of the yeshivahs. The area is most Yeshivish/Litvish types. There are many kollel couples in the area. The men who go to college might go to Lander or Queens College. The women usually go to Queens College or commute to a college in the city.

There aren't many downfalls in this community. However, some might prefer Brooklyn if they have children with special needs. Such kids often go to schools in Brooklyn, even though there is a program in the area. It is often not right for these kids. Most of the women I know from KGH work in Brooklyn as therapists and teachers at those yeshivos.

Incidentally, I don't live in Kew Gardens Hills, but I work there and I often go there for Shabbos, as it's substantially easier to get an overnight and meals there than it is to get a meal in my "Jewish" neighborhood 3 miles away.

Sunday, October 4, 2009