Sunday, January 31, 2010

Back to school for me!

So, as of 9am this morning, I'm back in school. I'm very excited about the new semester. I'm also very anxious about it. I'm taking 16 credits. I'm taking Business Law, Macroeconomics (4 credits), Corporate Finance, Marketing  and New Media and Business.  The first three classes I listed, the books are pictured here. The Marketing book has been ordered and should be on it's way.

New Media and Business doesn't have a book. The professor is about my age and he wanted to cut us some slack. That class seems like it will be a nice class. Last semester, my cool class with the cool professor was my Paradoxes class that I frequently blogged about. The professor of the Paradoxes classes wrote most of the book himself, so we bought these "course packs" from the copy place. I think this "New Media and Business" is going to be my cool class this semester that I look forward to. I'm also excited about the Marketing class. I dread Corporate Finance and Macroeconomics. The professors and the classes are supposed to be hard and with Pesach coming I just don't know how I"m going to get everything all done. I think I'm feeling wholely stressed out knowing how hard this semester is going to be for me, as I'm getting requests from others that they need me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What to do if your cell phone gets drenched

So, I read somewhere online that if your cell gets wet, you should put it in a bag of rice and somehow, this makes it dry out. Well, I soaked a cell phone two weeks ago. I bought another one, but, I just tried out the old one. It works. They had been saying, which it seems to be true, that if you try to use it, you will fry the circuitry. I tried it once and when it didn't work, I figured I would just buy another. This is still a good thing even though, I've already replaced it. This way, if something goes wrong with this phone, I have a back up. Also, I think I have phone numbers on the old phone.

Rate my prof highlight

"nice prof, but he can't control the havoc in the class room, exams are fare, he gives 10 copies of past exams so no surprises on the exam, but he has the weirdest curving system, 68 was C and 85 is a b+,"

Look how they spelled "fair" as "fare."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Where, oh where did the comment go?

There has been some discusion in the comments here on this blog about how the comments over at the Daas Torah blog, seem to disappear.  Someone posted a comment today about "this is an example of a disappearing comment...."

In my comment moderation form on my phone, all that came across was,

"this is an example of a disappearing comment...."
(lost comment)

So, thought the person was being funny. In reality, on my computer, the comment was longer. It was the comment in the post, "Daas Torah commenter demonstrates why I stay home for Shabbos" where someone talks about the Boro Park types getting only a religious marriage. The woman plays poor single mother to the system to get them benefits. Apparently, Daas didn't want to put this comment through.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Please be patient with the "construction"

I'm adding labels to all the posts.... wow, what a pain in the... somethin' It's not done yet but, the labels are up on the blog.

To Be or NOT To Be...



Coming to a Shabbos near you.....

Mouse rabbis, avodah zarah and segulahs

This is why I'm Modern Orthodox. I just heard about the "mouse rabbi." For those who don't know, one is supposed to put a picture of this rabbi up in their house so that the mice will go away. Why does this remind me of my gram, in her room with her candles and little statues of Catholic saints? See, I stay away from all this stuff. I'm just at a loss in my understanding that one can hang up pictures of "celebrity rabbis" yet, their children must chop the nose off their dolls because otherwise it's avodah zarah. No, without a doubt, I am not interested in being a part of these weird practices of rabbi worship. Modern Orthodox is good. I keep Shabbos. I keep kosher. As a woman, this is the bulk of my requirements. I don't see how I'm required rabbi worship.

Another weird practice is the segulah. I find it utterly similar to witchcraft. What's next? Will we be saying "double, double, boil and bubble, fire burn and caldron bubble" as is the line in the "Scottish Play"? Ok, so, I'm exaggerating. I know many will dismiss me. She's a convert, what does she know? Oh, but, what I do know is that these things are exactly the sort of things I was leaving behind in another religion. Yet I find out that it has the Jewish rubber stamp.

Modern Orthodoxy, thank G-d you're here!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Geros defend themselves

So, unfortunately, articles appear on the web discussing how some converts "adapt" to Jewish life during Xtian holidays. Unfortunately, the writers of these articles don't always select the most Orthodox people to use as an example. Voz Iz Neias had one such article up this past Xmas.

I feel like articles like this do a serious disservice to sincere gerim like myself and many of my friends. I have read several comments online (in blog comments and on Frumster) indicating that parents don't want their children considering gerim for marriage. They say they don't want to have non-Jewish in-laws. But, what if the girl in question's parents have passed away? What is the excuse, then, I beg of you? I asked some of my friends (also, geros) for their reactions.

The first feedback I got was, "Ho hum. You know when it says to love the Ger, Hashem didn't really

mean LOVE love. It was more like just don't kick them. I mean,

actually kicking is ok considering the long Jewish history of

persecution, but no kicking with soccer cleats. That is definitely

assur. Well at least on Shabbos it is. Well, it might be d'rabbanan,

so it could be ok with a shinui. Ask your Rav. But certainly, that

whole love part was just meant to be taken allegorically.

All cynicism aside, I think that the actual percentage of frum Jews

descended from geirim is probabally much, much higher than anyone

wants to admit. The system seems to be keep your mouth SHUT. I have

seen people advising that a giyores' children should not even know her

status. Don't make waves, be polite, don't stand out too much and

again, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Unless the boy and girl in question are

under a certain age, why would the in-laws-to-be even need to know?

The shadchan should know (no Kohanim) and the Rabbi that marries them

needs to know (different kesubah). Other than that, for a couple,

let's say 30 or over, who else needs to know????"

The second friend's reaction was, "My mother helped me make my son's Bar Mitzvah - and when I say "make", I don't mean calling a caterer. We did everything ourselves. She paid for the bentschers, and was there with me greeting everyone and kvelling in her long skirt, which she probably wore once."

Possible sides regarding geirus

There are three options of mindset here:

Which side to you take? There are thre opinions a person can have regarding gerim:

1) All gerim are good and sincere, with pure motives.

2) Some gerim are good and sincere having pure and honest motives. Others have ulterior motives which sometimes they disclose and sometimes they hide from everyone.

3) All gerim/candidates have ulterior motives which sometimes they disclose and sometimes they hide from everyone.

Now, this... post sums up what I've been trying to invoke thought about and then some... It is trouble to stand on #1 or #3. I don't care if you divide the percentages in #2 99% bad and 1% good.. However, HKBH stated that one must love the ger. The very fact that he said this causes logical conclusion (I know that might be hard for some frum Jews) that #3 is NOT a valid halachic option. Those who believe #3 and act on it... Oy... can an FFB finish this for me? They will jump in and say, "who is she to say that this is against the Torah." The Torah asserts the right for gerim to exist.

I beg of the FFBs who see the Truth in this to speak out to the FFBs who do not. Such an FFB will never listen to gerim, themselves or even a BT... then again, they ignore Hashem so, why WOULD they listen....

Some tidbits from comments

Some tidbits that I've been putting up in the Daas Torah blog... food for thought:

Daas Torah and others,

HKBH is Perfect. He wrote the Torah and It is Perfect. Do you deny this? I hope not.

Moving on.... In said TORAH, one is commanded to love the ger isn't 36 times repeated? Do you deny that? If you do, you deny the above paragraph.

There is part of the Torah-the commandment to love the ger-which is being ignored by the vast majority of the people. Jersey Girl and yourself are helping me prove that.

I am just helping to clarify Hashem's Law for Him. This is no different from yourself. Furthermore, we are often in agreement on many issues. Again, in your mind, I am not allowed to have the exact same opinion as you against the establishment. Such an opionion is against the commandment to love the ger.

Tropper should be treated like he treated gerim...

I was reading the article and comments about Tropper over on 5TJewish Times:

I'm with #3. Converts are guilty until proven innocent beyond reasonable doubt and FFBs are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

This has GOT to stop!

Also, let's get it out there that Tropper is spewing false support that he doesn't have. Since when did it become Torahdik to lie?
I really think, yes, this is more of the same discussion being had since this started. People want justice and the mainline yeshivah world says he didn't do it. Again, it sickens me the double standard. Over and over again, I must defend myself at people's Shabbos tables and most recently on the Daas Torah blog. I learned, I know, I keep Shabbos, I keep kosher. However, I am consistently put in the position of defending myself and the decision of the rabbis who vouched for me to the beis din and the beis din itself who did convert me.
Yes, there are a lot of insincere gerim who get through. I agree wholeheartedly. This is why I want the rabbis to actually hold by the strict standards they have put out on paper. While it won't prevent people from continuing to have a bias against gerim, it most certainly does not help that there's some truth to what people are thinking. As I have told some other gerim in the Daas Torah comment strings, it is in our best interest that standards are stricter and less insincere gerim get through. When converts are slipping up and saying stuff about how they are converting because they mostly date Jewish men, then, of course, I will be put in the position of defending myself, as a gyoress.
However, it is imperative that if the yeshivah world should reserve their judgement for an FFB, then they should do so for gerim, as well. The polarity of guilt and innocence, seem to be opposite, though. I wish to see a middle ground for judgement of both gerim and those who call themselves rabbi.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blog commenter makes it just too easy....

So, some of you have been following the posts with which I have been featured on the Daas Torah Blog. So, the comments in the latest segment are pretty hot. There are over a hundred comments right now.

This is the blog where this woman who calls herself "Jersey Girl" has told me that, ""My kids are growing up "out of town" as I also did so they have to know the laws of Bishul Akum. It is inevitable that they will be out somewhere and get hungry. here is a lot that, according to our Rabbis, one can eat from a non kosher deli/restaurant and my kids know what they can and cannot have. "

It turns out, she seems to think that anything that the laws of bishul akum permit cooking by a gentile can be eaten in a non-kosher restaurnt. I have instructed her to go and learn the laws of "notain ta'am." It's the middle of night in Israel and so, she has likely posted a response but the blog owner is likely sleeping and so, in the morning, he will go through any comments awaiting moderation and we shall see what she has to say about that. Actually, it's the middle of the night here and so, I must go visit the schluffy monster.

Numbers... Jewish Numbers

How geirus should be fixed (revised)

There is little doubt in the minds of sincere gerim and Orthodox Jews who keep up with the news that something needs to be done to resolve the issues with geirus. What should be done? I am only one gyoress out there. However, based on my experiences taking classes, speaking with others and finally, my own learning for conversion, I have some ideas on how the rabbonim could go about this, if they so chose.

As already on the RCA protocols, regions would be created. Each region would have a beis din set up. I would make a beis din for EACH boro, another for just upstate whatever those counties are, another for NJ North, NJ South.... you get the idea... I would say that a Chabad beis din could be set up in Crown Heights and they would not be permitted to use their own regional beis din but they would go through that system. Those who convert with the Chabad would be expected to take on Chabad minhagim.

Furthermore, they should create workshops whereby the veteran conversion rabbis would work with novice conversion rabbis. The rabbis would get a certificate or be put on a list after completing this workshop. The veteran rabbis (who would likely also be the dayanim for the regional baytai dayanim) would also make themselves available for questions to rabbis who had not sponsored m/any candidates before, these new sponsor rabbis. In fact, they should constantly check in with the new sponsors. Women teachers could also obtain these certificates qualifying them to tutor or teach classes. It would be at the discretion of the beis din if a woman had enough Jewish education to take this certification or she needs more study beforehand. In this manner, there would be a balance between the power of the local rabbi and the local beis din.

I also think that they could then be practical and have classes set up by the beis din. Each rabbi who is currently sponsoring at least one person would be required to teach X number of classes for the beis din. Any other certificate holder in the community could volunteer to teach a section or more. They would put all these teachers together and have a giant class somewhat like they do at OZ (Ohab Zedek on the Upper West Side of New York City which hosts a program with about 60 candidates at a time.) It would actually be more efficient though, because besides taking the class, the candidate would have a sponsor (whereas OZ geirus candidate all have same rabbi) they are specifically working with. The sponsor would decide when to take a candidate to the beis din. As is the case now, the baytai dayanim would pretty much accept the sponsor’s recommendation.

This is a change from what goes on now. The problem I see is that some of the rabbis who are sponsoring candidates don’t seem to know what they are doing and they don’t seem to have any guidance. Furthermore, I don’t believe that someone is ready for geirus in less than a year. I sure wasn't ready at 3 months. Some may be reading this and feel it is not so different from the current RCA system. Well, the current RCA beis din is not enforcing the standards they have listed in their GPS. I know someone who converted through their beis din in about eight months. Furthermore, she converted with two children who did not want to convert. Besides this candidate that I know personally, we all know about Ivanka Trump who was converted in less than a year, despite her wardrobe which did not reflect sincerity and a desire to belong to the Orthodox Jewish world.

I stated previously that I don’t think the rabbis care. I maintain this. If the rabbis at the RCA care, why are they performing conversions that do not meet their own GPS standards? Also, I think it’s crucial that the rabbis who are sponsoring candidates have some sort of training from rabbis who have been doing this a while. A well-tuned crapmeter doesn’t hurt, either.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blood and Guts!

Ok, I took down the pic. There was a pic here of my bloody knee but, I thought it was a little gross.

Soo, this is what happens when you're running down the sidewalk and hit one of those panels where the tree root grew under the sidewalk....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daas Torah commenter demonstrating exactly why I stay home on Shabbos

So, I wrote this guest post for the Daas Torah blog (it was also posted here) discussing some of the examples of how I've been mistreated as a gyoress. One commenter in particular, did in the comments of the forum, what is done to me at a Shabbos table in front of several guests.

She started out trying to appear nice, "A few things that might help: 1. Instead of accepting Shabbat invites, perhaps you might consider making Shabbat and inviting others." Ok, but, who says I haven't done that?

Then she continued with, "The general perception, traditionally was that Shabbat invites were for travelers and others who are not capable of making Shabbat for themselves. When you accept Shabbat invites, you seem to give the impression that you are not accomplished enough in your own observance to make Shabbat preparations for yourself."

THERE IT IS!!! The crux of why I'm staying home is because I've realized that while I like to get out and meet new people.. well, I USED TO.. I see that people take this as an indication that they are doing me some big favor because I'm some kind of a nebach who can't cook for myself or doesn't know what I can and can't do with a blech and some food.

This woman went on to criticize that I didn't appreciate being grilled on a date to see if I really knew Jewish laws. She mentioned that her daughter was asked to take a psychological exam and apparently failed it. Oh, but, I thought her children were wonderful?

Regarding this issue, I think the point that I really should have stated in this last piece is that I'm offended that someone grills me when they were given three references to call. I know that he spoke with one of my rebbetzins. Additionally, I asked the boy POINT BLANK, if he would ask these questions of an FFB or if he was only doing it because I was a gyoress. At which point, he ADMITTED that he was indeed grilling me because I'm a gyoress. Essentially, he was expecting to find out I wasn't good enough. When he was not told this, he came to the date with a mindset to uncover it. Someone should not accept a date with someone if they are this set against it.

Anyhow, this woman just commented over and over again about how I don't know how to make Shabbos and that I'm not a real Jewish woman because "Jews MAKE Shabbat." Now, I don't understand. If I'm staying home, by myself, doesn't that mean I'm making Shabbos for myself? Or did she take the liberty of deciding that I'm breaking Shabbos? If it is the former that proves her comments were unnecessary. If it is the latter, then she is violating the commandment to judge favorably. Either way, she is wrong.

She went on to talk about her children and all the things that she says they know and do. She went on and on about how they just do so much chesed. I'm not really sure what her exact point was. However, it seems like this was supposed to add to her proof that I wasn't good enough to be Jewish.

When it came down to end of the comments, she said, "My kids are growing up "out of town" as I also did so they have to know the laws of Bishul Akum. It is inevitable that they will be out somewhere and get hungry. here is a lot that, according to our Rabbis, one can eat from a non kosher deli/restaurant and my kids know what they can and cannot have. "

At the point which I read this, I should be thanking Jersey Girl for the good hearty belly laugh she gave me. This is just how they are. This whole string of comments, she's commenting over and over again that I am not living up to the standards of FFBs. Yet, we see right here that she is not living up to the standards that a great beis din, like the one I went through, requires.

I wouldn't even ask my rabbi such a question but, I'm quite sure that if I posed this situation to him, that I need or wish to eat while I'm out in an area where there is no kosher restaurant, he would advise me to do what I already do: buy raw fruits/veggies or pre-packaged items with a hecsher from a grocery or drug store and eat them. There are too many issues that come with unsupervised open kosher food in a kitchen full of traif, I'm led to wonder what sort of "rabbis" this woman is consulting that they should suggest such a thing. Even the liberal Manhattan Modern Orthodox rabbis advise that you may only eat a small selection of COLD foods in a traif place.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Experiment in terminology distortion

I just conducted a little experiment in terminology distortion. That post I wrote about my negative Shabbos experiences was also guest-posted on Daas Torah blog. One commenter in particular, seems to be looking for excuses to say I'm not a real Jewess.

One of the items she honed in on was my not recognizing the term "bishul akum" when it was distorted. So, I asked on my Facebook status, "what is bishah lackum?" A guy recognized it RIGHT away. An FFB girl recognized it but, only knew it had to do with cooking. The other FFB girl didn't recognize it until she called me on the phone and I pronounced it. Then she knew what it was exactly. Finally, the messianic girl who was in the Army with a girl I trained with in the Army (we FB met over the status comments of the mutual friend) said that her rabbi didn't know what it was. However, Bishah, is apparently a city in the Middle East. Who knew?

Balancing the Scales: When the community has been fantastik to me....

Ok, so, I've been criticized that I don't offer enough of the positive experiences in my writings.

To launch this writing, I work for frum Jews in their homes. They have all been wonderful to me. I have not had any negative experiences when at any of their homes for Shabbos. Ok, one had a guest who was obnoxious, however, she and her husband stepped in and changed the subject-over and over again, I might add.. Mostly, though, the people I work for are not in the position to host me for Shabbos. One of the young kollel couples goes to her mother's house most every Shabbos.

Some of the perks these frum bosses have generously rendered include: bonuses for Purim, Pesach, Rosh Hashanah, my birthday and Chanukah, two very comfy barely used twin beds, use of the internet when my computer was down, washing a load of laundry for me when I didn't have time to get to the laundromat, occasional rides home from work, high end clothing that was in the gemach donation pile, extra copy of the megillah, free food up the wazooooo and finally, often being the people who restore my faith in the Jewish people. I might even be forgetting something.

Some kindnesses extended by other frum Jews include: rides to the store given by women who didn't even know me, more use of internet when my laptop bummed, some of the positive experiences that I have had in the community, offering a frozen chicken when I thought my Shabbos chicken was stolen out of my freezer, loaning of books, rides to the mikvah to toivel dishes, Shabbos leftovers, and finally, more encouragement when others have put me in the position to need it. Again, there may be something I'm missing here, as well.

In summary, there are, indeed, positive experiences to balance out the negative ones that I have cited in my previous writing. I have listed them above. Perhaps, I will even experience more, so that I can come and report them at a later time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh, let me count the ways! The ways we are treated badly

A discussion developed in the comments of the Daas Torah blog about how members of the Orthodox community treat gerim poorly. Another gyoress and I were invited to write a guest post about this treatment. The other girl declined. I would first like to qualify the scope of this writing as only dealing with the negative experiences that I and some of my friends and acquaintances have encountered. I have had positive experiences, as well. Unfortunately, though, I've had far more negative experiences than positive ones.

One of the community’s favorite places to go after a gyoress is the Shabbos table. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been at a meal and someone has just ransacked me with questions and comments that were wholly out of line. The converts and conversion candidates themselves are just as guilty as the others. I had a convert tell me at a meal that the host had told her I was a convert and she was too. She would like to hear my story. I told her I would be happy to remember her Email address and send it to her later. She declined. What was the purpose of announcing to the other guests at the meal that I was a gyoress in such a manner? In the incident with a conversion candidate, she asked me, “what’s your background?” I said, “what’s yours?” She said she was Catholic her whole life. I didn’t feel like arguing and dealing with such a thing.

One of my favorite insulting actions that members of the community do, is they start trying to talking me out of converting-except AFTER I’ve converted. So, I tell them this. They continue with comments about how I don’t need to keep the mitzvos because I’m not Jewish. I tell them very strongly, “I have already converted. You are telling a Jew to go off the derech.” They keep on with it.

Another jem is how they treat me when it comes to shidduchim. At the beginning of last semester, I was at the shul of a rabbi who I had used for a shidduch reference. He totally caught me off guard and embarrassed me profusely. He nonchalantly asks me, “You’re dating a rabbi, right?” “no…” with a really perplexed look on my face. He continues, “Well, they called me for a shidduch reference and I gave them a good one.” “I went out with one once.” “Why didn’t you go out a second time?” “Yeah, well, these guys don’t want to marry a gyoress. They think it’s a big joke to go out with one and try to prove I didn’t deserve to be converted by grilling me on Talmud and seeing if they can find something I don’t know.” The rabbi says to me, “Well, if you don’t get married, you won’t stay observant.” I’m thinking, but not saying, “Thanks for tell ME what I’M going to do.” He continued, with statements like: you have to get married, you didn’t like anything about the FIVE guys you went out with? (You’d think I had said 500) This continued on as I tried to defend myself. I was told, “women know what to do to get a man to marry her.” If I didn’t know, I should, “Read a book and learn!” I said, “I don’t have time.” Maybe that was too nice. Maybe, “I refuse to study manipulation tactics out of a book,” would have been a better statement.

Since shadchanim aren’t so nice to anyone, you can imagine what they do to me. I was offered a guy who doesn’t keep Shabbos. He has a “job problem,” you see. Another shadchanit started telling me about a 44-year old Yeshivish man, but something gave me a clue to inquire if he was for me. She said, “oh, no! I thought you could find someone for him for me.” Then she told me he was shorter than me. I’m 5-4. It seemed odd to me that she didn’t tell me this when she was telling me about him, if I was really supposed to set him up. Also, I was offered a blind guy at one point. The woman who Emailed this to me said it was someone else’s idea and wouldn’t tell me who.

Moving from set ups, to dates themselves and the feedback. I went out with a guy who asked me on a date various questions. One of them was, “do you know what bishul akum is?” Unless a girl went to seminary, do you think she would know it by name? Of course if I knew the principle as the “gentile can’t light the flame thingy,” does it matter if I don’t know the term “bishul akum”? It turned out I am friends with his cousin who informed me that I’m not on his level. If he wanted a seminary girl, he shouldn’t have accepted a date with me. He admitted it was just nosy curiosity about a gyoress.

Some miscellaneous insults from the community include strangers just asking point blank, “are you a gyoress?” One girl started asking me, “Do you have a blue skirt? Do you own a brown skirt? Do you own any gray skirts?” I think she was trying to see if I had enough skirts for a frum wardrobe. Not at a Shabbos table but at someone’s house on Shabbos, their guest grilled me as to why I wasn’t at a parent or other relative’s house-surely there must be someone…

After so many incidents like this, I stay home by myself on Shabbos. I don’t want to be around anyone anymore. I’ve come to hate people enough. I just don’t have the energy to constantly defend myself on a day when I, as a Jewish woman, am entitled to rest. I think, though, they feel it doesn’t apply to me. In the minds of some, I will never be Jewish.

Michaltastik Updates

Well, you may have noticed that I moved to my own domain for the coming year:

Also, I have been featured on the Daas Torah blog. I'm working on a polished piece for that blog, as well. I hope you everyone tells their friends about this hot and controversial blog you are reading right now.

Also, I am more than willing to accept guest posts. I would feature the ideas that might interest my readers. You have an interesting thought you want to publicize? Are you angry about something the government has done? Write it up and send it on over. My Email address is on my profile.

Jewish Dating....

I see that my post about EJF has turned into a discussion of dating... which is likely my fault. However, as I just clicked off on two comments for the post that had to do with dating, I thought I would create a post for this discussion.

Background: I have tried SYAS, Frumster, and now JDate.

When I tried SYAS, I couldn't even get Shadchans to accept me into their network. They would respond with a pat response that they don't have anyone for me, therefore they will not accept me into their network. The influence members of the community is partly to blame for this. Many of my friends were telling me I was so schtark and I need a rabbi or a Yeshvish guy. In the end, I started to see how the yeshivish world looks down their nose at converts. So, should join SYAS again but, when I try it won't accept my payment. It says the addresses don't match. I've tried every possible combination they might have for my address and I have given up.

Frumster: I rejoined Frumster for a month since I'm off school and I have a little extra time. I find the men don't call or one called-grilled me about my conversion and my family and why are they dead and all that crap I post about and then he never called back to ask me out.

JDate:The reason why I tried JDate is that someone recently told me she got married. So, where did you meet him? JDate. He's observant? Yes.

I don't know... One of the profiles on there is someone I sorta know who I know is observant. He has since told me, he's not an actual member. I suspect that most of those profiles are men who don't pay. Oh, well, before I let my month expire, I should re-Email the guys I was interested in who do keep kosher and Shabbos and leave them my Email in case they ever do pay for a month. I should advise the same on my profile in case there is anyone intelligent enough to follow directions.

Hey, what is up with the sentence fragments that the men send to me? I do not reply to them. Frumster says I should reply to any messages because it's basic derech eretz and the person took the time to write to me. However, I feel that if they didn't take the time to form so much as ONE complete sentence, I don't owe them a reply-not even a pat response of disinterest. Besides which, such response usually causes them to argue. (which is when they, of course, suddenly speak English.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An article about EJF that confirms what I've been saying LONG before the scandal

I'm reading this article and it is exactly what I've been posting all along on the various blogs, in particular, Emes V'Emunah.

This article states in no uncertain terms that what should happen is that there should be TRAINING for conversion mentors.... hmmmm where have you all heard that before? RIGHT HERE, on MY blog....

I also emphasized that what isn't being done by anyone is having a comprehensive training for those who work with pre-converts.

I'm looking at the article over at Daas Torah:

And I'm submitting comments...

Technology, Attention spans and Shabbos....

So, over Shabbos, I started reading my reading selection for the CUNY CPE exam. This is an exam that everyone takes to show that we can read and write and we've learned some critical thinking skills in college... or perhaps we even came in with those skills. Nevertheless, we take this exam to prove that we have these skills and thus are worthy of a college degree.

Anyhow, the reading selection, which I started reading over Shabbos until about half way through it when I decided to take a nap, was about the lack of attention span that has resulted from the internet and I will even expand this to include technology as a whole. I mean, most people are constantly with the texting. I really don't text, although, I've been accused of texting, as I Email and Facebook from my phone. When I was accused of texting, I was usually on Facebook commenting on someone's status.

Am I sidetracked again? Well, that's the point. It's as if the entire society has ADHD nowadays. I actually have ADHD, so I'm not sure if I know the difference. However, I think back to when I was working as a receptionist during my conversion process. On Fridays, when it was quiet, I would be sitting at the front desk reading Jewish books for a hour or two straight, totally engrossed in those books. The phone would actually ring or someone would come to the window and I would jump, like out of my skin. It reminds me of when I was in college the first time. One of my roommates (I lived in a triple that semester) was in the room for a while and finally said something to me. I was sitting in the corner studying so hard, absolutely engrossed in probably Spanish-American histor or literature. I jumped. From then on, that roommate would say, "hello, I'm coming in the room."

I can't remember the last time I engrossed so thoughroughly in a book or my studies like that... Or can I? Then I realized, on Shabbos, I am like that. I think it's the mere fact of a the computer being off and the utter quiet -makes face- well utter quiet when the landlady and the kids are in shul in the morning. How could I ever go to shul? Shul time is the only time I don't hear either THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP over my head *OR* snoring.... (see for all you who were about to say, "those kids must sleep sometimes..." yes, and when they do, so does their father... ZZZZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!

Incidentally, another inspiration besides the CPE reading was the admission from one of my "frummy" readers that she and her "frummy" boyfriend spend much of Shabbos texting each other. So, I, of course, said, "so you don't keep Shabbos? She said, 'we do, but we text.'" Hey, I thought frummies didn't have boyfriends anyway? They go from strangers to married, no?

Friday, January 15, 2010


I find that the Jewish community is overflowing with hypocrisy. I was just looking at a reader's list of facebook friends. It revealed so much hypocrisy. On one open profile I just looked at, men with frummy names and pics compliment a hypocritically frum girl's @$$. She states in the comments that she dresses nice and frum where she lives but, she goes into the city dresed like a prostitute. I'm paraphrasing.

WTF? These are the same people who look down at me and other converts to tell us we're not good enough for... oh, EVERYTHING!

The All-American Priorities

Well, that's the problem. In the All-American way of life, priorities and prioritizing what's most important is a no-no. Don't you know? You're supposed to believe that you can have it all.

For the woman, she must have a career and a family at the same time. No one is allowed to admit if they can't handle both. For All-American frum families, no one wants to admit that men should work instead of learn full time. No one wants to admit, that maybe, just maybe you can't afford camp or Pesach in Florida. People argue about how these are necessities in child rearing.

I grew up in a bubble where these things didn't phase my mother. I went to camp ONCE because my mother got me in on need type grant. Most summers, I was home, running around in the neighborhood to my various friends houses who were also home. Maybe it's because we all weren't Jewish. Maybe it's because I was too poor. I was happy and never felt like I was losing anything.

Let me ask those of you out there, what is so bad about saying, we can and can't afford this and that? I have time for this and that? This is most important, this is what I care about. I don't care about that as much as this.

I think if the rabbis should exhibit greatness, they should demand this of the Jewish Nation and those converting into it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What signs do you look for?

When you are trying to figure out if a shul is Orthodox, Conservative or Reform? What about conversion stories?

"Rabbi Sheryl will be right with you."

"Diverse community"

And why CANT an Orthodox community be diverse? After all, it never seems to be an Orthodox place when they say that.

How about a conversion story?
"she took up gardening... she converted to Judaism..."

If "BH" or "BSD" are at the top of the page.
So that's Orthodox... duh!

What about people?
If the woman is wearing a headband, black tights and a skirt below the knees...

What can you come up with?

I am an Orthodox Jewish woman....

Just in case any of my readers are wondering, I am Orthodox. Apparently, it wasn't obvious frum the blog so, I guess I had to make an announcement.

Better late than never... the DIBBUK story

Nu, my friend just told me about this, so I had to blog this. How did none of the blogs I read pick up on this?

My vote: mental illness

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I just read this article, thanks to Harry over at Emes Ve Emunah... I'm putting my comments here in case they don't approve them....

They try to find them a better a job if they can. That's what "working with them" means. I know someone who asked for a scholarship and the rabbis got the housewife a job. Then they gave them scholarship. They refused until she was working.

#10 and Responses to #10: There are numbers between 2 and 7.

Another advantage to making the kollel system smaller is that people should be encouraged to give their tzedakah to schools for the children, not the kollels.

#30- I know so many girls who graduated college and made salaries and got jobs that were not indicative of their degrees. However, some of them eventually did get better jobs. When you don't have a degree, you're more likely to get stuck. Without a degree, I was stuck with many temp agency jobs. I'm now going back for my degree. There are too many jobs I can't even apply for because they want a degree.

36-She's a therapist, right?

40-you forgot about the fancy sheitels...

55-state colleges are cheaper than yeshivah tuition, not to mention there is financial for your bachelor's degree.

One final note where I emphasize that adults should be adults not children (parents shouldn't be supporting their adult children):
Dismiss for this-go ahead, but, I am a convert and I remember one of my pastors discussing that parents shouldn't support their married children. He pointed out that a "man shall LEAVE his father and mother and cleave unto his wife."

A married child has not truly left if their parents are paying everything. It was recently told to me by a frum girl that at least 90% of the marrieds are supported. Goyim do help their kids, too, but generally it's in the way of a lot of free babysitting and some money here and there. It's not to this degree. Also, goyim marry after the bachelor's, not at 18. As a result they are living at home when they are in college and if parents can't pay college, they take out loans.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Is Judaism still a religion? You know, for worshipping G-D?

When I read all this stuff about rabbis defending Tropper and speaking bad about gerim, I wonder, "where is the yiras shemayim?", "have these people forgotten about Hashem?" They are so into twisting and turning every little detail of the Talmud to cater to their social Judaism... and they trump the Torah. Chareidi is supposed to mean fear, as in FEAR of HEAVEN. So, why aren't more chareidi speaking out on the atrocities going on? How are chareidim like Reuven Feinstein taking money in exchange for their names and their backing? Are we really supposed to believe Tropper feared ShMayim when he was pimping his wife out to a non-Jew that wanted to convert? All Tropper's supporters who are chareidi, we're supposed to think they fear G-d? If someone feared G-d, I would think they would disassociate themselves from this man and his organization.

I reiterate, just because he's a Feinstein related to Moshe, doesn't make him the same person. He is showing his stripes by being bought off.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why Not Ask Gerim to Contribute to Fixing the Geirus Problems

So the question was posed to me by "דניאל בן אברהם" who I'm guessing from the name, is a ger. Why do I suppose that they don't ask the gerim, themselves for suggestions? I thought the discussion that has been following warrants it's own post.

דניאל בן אברהם said...
Michal why do you think גרים themselves aren't being invited to help fix this?

January 10, 2010 4:33 PM
Michaltastik said...
Daniel ben Avraham (Are you the one I know? Who lives somewhere around here?)

I think no one cares. That's what I think. I think the rabbis are busy with their own lives and I don't think they want to create a better system, even though everyone pisses and whines about all these (supposedly Orthodox FFB) Jewish men who go out and find a non-Jew and bring them in for conversion. However, no one of substance cares enough to rock the boat and the rabbis have better things to do. If Tropper had done this because he cared, then he would have tried to work with the existing systems not pull what he pulled.

Furthermore, his standards WEREN'T higher. They really weren't/aren't. His people don't even have a sponsoring rabbi. They work with a married lady over the phone who doesn't even live in their community. We had one of their gerim in the community who attended the Chabad shul. The Chabad rabbi profusely expressed that he was not her rabbi, she just attended his shul. Well, she converted and then walked away from the community-jumped ship. She got her papers and that was it. She would not come to shul, return calls or Emails to anyone, not the rabbi, rebbetzin, not even me-a candidate at that time. What she hoped to accomplish with this? I'm not sure. Perhaps, she was converting for marriage and no knew or maybe they knew. I don't know too many details. The system that Tropper sticks his nose up at, it would be much harder for this to happen.

January 10, 2010 8:17 PM
Michaltastik said...
Tropper looked the part and got some R. Reuven Feinstein on his side. He didn't do this for the community, though. I think more than for money, he wanted to feel important. Listen to those tapes and read enough about him, if you have any lick of intuition or binah, if you will, you will see it RIGHT AWAY.

January 10, 2010 8:20 PM
Mordechai Y. Scher said...
As to why gerim aren't invited to fix the problem: in this case, why are they especially qualified? If the problem is one of organization, anyone can fix that in theory. If the problem has halachic subtleties, then a ger who is a talmid hacham could contribute - but no more than anyone else.

As for 'the rabbanim don't care' - this is patently untrue. Conversion and its many ramifications and proper treatment of candidates and standards and autonomy of local rabbanim, and...has been discussed and debated an awful lot the last few decades. Not always in the public eye; but a hot topic nonetheless. Some rabbanim, like Rav Marc Angel, speak out publicly. Some just work away quietly trying to do the right thing. Conversion is a much bigger scale issue now than anytime in our history, and I suspect that is part of the difficulty reaching some sort of consensus, or accommodation, or even simple cooperation. Then, of course, there is the fairly obvious role of religious politics in the whole mess.

What is so sad is that the people who really suffer for all this are the converts and the potential converts, even if we just discount all the ones who seem insincere or uninterested in a real commitment to Torah.

January 10, 2010 8:52 PM
Michaltastik said...
"why are they especially qualified? If the problem is one of organization, anyone can fix that in theory. If the problem has halachic subtleties, then a ger who is a talmid hacham could contribute - but no more than anyone else."

I don't know. I think some of us, because of our vested interests, are extremely aware of a lot of things going on that the rabbis may not be. I also think a sincere convert has an incentive to care. Having gone through the process, we may be able to see if it could have been more efficient.

For me, when I started my Yahoo group after my conversion, I got some ed-juh-mah-kay-shun on what is going through some of the other conversion candidate's minds. Because I wasn't a rabbi, I was asked questions that someone wouldn't have asked a rabbi or rebbetzin. After all that, then I felt that rabbis are converting a little too easy and not looking at the right stuff. They held me up. I still don't see why my first rabbi met with me for less than an hour TOTAL in our ten or so meetings in that first year. I speak to others and their rabbis would meet with them once a week for like 15 minutes... AN HOUR. Even the Av BD in Manhattan meets with you for at least an hour, at least once.

January 10, 2010 9:07 PM
Michaltastik said...
Perhaps, being fresh out my management class where the management mentality we learned was to constantly review the organization structure and see if it can be tweaked... I suppose you're right, it's just another restructuring. We learned in the class that restructuring is very difficult because of organization inertia. People are set in their ways.

I think this applies here, as well. While they claim they want change and the system isn't good enough, really these old rabbis are set in their ways and you know... let someone else change things... after they retire and they'll be happy for them.

Statement from Orand's Av Beis din

This link was posted over on Emes Ve Emunah in their comments. The statement doesn't provide for comments. I'll take comments on it.

EJF R' Wender of Houston Statement

For starters, I see they will slow down someone's process if they lose their job... that's not very nice. In this economy especially, this can happen.

aml's story

Reposted with permission from the comments section of Emes Ve-Emunah

I too fell in love with Judaism over a decade ago now. I spent three years learning and growing before I was finally converted. About six months after my conversion I was introduced to my husband, who is Israeli. We got married in the States and moved back to Israel together. We were married by a diyan from the RCA, who also provided me with extra paperwork for the rabbinical authorities in Israel. After we arrived in Israel, we went to have my conversion and our marriage “recognized” in the eyes of the Rabbanute. This was the single most humiliating experience of my life.

I was standing there, long skirt, long sleeves, hair wrapped up in a scarf, with my new, kippa sruga- wearing husband, in front of three heredi rabbis. We also had two of my husband’s kippa sruga- wearing friends who were there to “testify” that we are married and that they were aware of my conversion.
The rabbiam didn’t make eye contact with me. They spoke to my husband as if I wasn’t even in the room and basically compared me to a whore (and for the record, I was a virgin when I got married) and asked him why he’d bother marrying a convert. I looked at my husband, his mouth open, not sure how to answer them. Were these even serious questions?

I broke down into tears. The rabbiam were shocked. Maybe they didn’t think I understood, I don’t know. Maybe they thought I wouldn’t question them. I looked all three of them in the eyes and asked them, “Do you really think you represent anything having to do with God?” And I walked out.

A few weeks later we received two letters in the mail. My conversion and our marriage were officially recognized on their “holy” eyes. To this day we both regret going to them for their recognition. To ask for their recognition was to give them authority.

How geirus should be fixed

I think the bigger problem is that no one ever stopped to say, "who the hell is this Tropper guy and why is he doing this?"

I think people are impressed by Rabbi Reuven Feinstein. It's important to remember this is not R. Moshe Feinstein and being his relative doesn't make him such. He's acting like an @$$ with no judgement by associating with that org.

They could centralize it in such a way that it wouldn't be corrupt. What they should do, but, the reality is they don't care, follows.

As already on the RCA protocols, regions would be created. Each region would have a beis din set up. I would make a beis din for EACH boro, another for just upstate whatever those counties are, another for NJ North, NJ South.... you get the idea... I would say that a Chabad beis din could be set up in Crown Heights and they would not be permitted to use their own regional beis din but they would go through that system.

They should create workshops from the veteran conversion rabbis for rabbis to take if they want to do a conversion. The rabbis would get a certificate or be put on a list to indicate that they had studied conversion with the beis din. The veteran rabbis (who would likely also be the dayanim for the regional baytai dayanim) would also make themselves available for questions to rabbis who had not sponsored m/any candidates before, these new sponsor rabbis. In fact, they should constantly check in with the new sponsors. Women teachers could also obtain these certificates qualifying them to tutor or teach classes. It would be at the discretion of the beis din if a woman had enough Jewish education to take this certification or she needs more study first.

The baytai dayanim could also sponsor workshops for members of the community interested and willing to have candidates over for Shabbos. This would provide a network of secondary support for rabbis who are sponsoring candidates so that they would have somewhere to send them for Shabbosos. These community members would be made aware of things like: you are not supposed to set up preconverts, don't ask them where they are in their process, there is no concrete answer to this question for a candidate, mevushal wine and so on....

In this manner, there would be a balance between the power of the local rabbi and the local beis din. I also think that they could then be practical and have classes set up by the beis din. Each rabbi who is currently sponsoring at least one person would be required to teach X number of classes for the beis din. Any other certificate holder in the community could volunteer to teach a section or more. They would put all these teachers together and have a giant class somewhat like they do at OZ. It would actually be more efficient though, because besides taking the class, the candidate would have a sponsor (whereas OZ has about 60 people in that class and they all have the same rabbi) they are specifically working with. The sponsor would decide when to take a candidate to the beis din. As is the case now, the baytai dayanim would pretty much accept the sponsors recommendation.

Candidates could shop around at different sponsors but, not baytai dayanim.

Because these are all rabbis from the same community who already know each other or will in this process end up getting to know each other, there would be a big difference from what EJF was doing. The biggest problem in gerim is that half the sponsoring rabbis don't know what they hell they are doing and no one so much as encourages them to ask. There is nothing to train them to do geirus and there's no system that pressures them to go and ask a veteran conversion sponsor. Also, if a system like this was set up, Tropper would never have his way. He wasn't a geirus rabbi. He was self-proclaimed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I need advice from my readership.

See, I actually need a new rabbi because I'm sick of my rabbi and his chumros. I'm not supposed to open pop bottles on Shabbos because they attached and it's creating a bottle cap where one didn't exist before but, every shul meal you go to, the bottles are not preopened. So, I asked about it. He said that I should insist on a steak knife so I can destroy the bottle cap, at which point someone would offer to open it for me. If I can allow other Jews to open a bottle for me, then why can't I open it?

There are actually other festering issues that I don't deal with. So, how DO I go about finding a Modern Orthodox rabbi to be *my* rabbi?

The important part of this post is:

Curmudge is so cool!

She said "ger-dar." It's like Gaydar but for gerim to radar each other.

To be fair to Bee Zee....

Perhaps, his comments didn't blatantly say I was wrong. However, he kept mentioning that he has never seen anyone questioned or verbally cornered at a Shabbos table.

The originally article was me upset because someone who made discreet comments at a Shabbos table supporting the idea that converts, not conversion candidates but, CONVERTS, in other words, Jews can be questioned and watched for the rest of their lives. The person brought this up at the table full well knowing that I was a recent convert at the table. It seemed to me, this was brought up because of me. Furthermore, this same person wants to judge Tropper favorably. I find it annoying that someone feels they should judge Tropper favorably but, for any convert they should feel they get to "watch me" and they do. They watch converts intently and they grill us, waiting to find something so they can say we're not good enough to adorn the title JEW. THAT, is what bugs the stuffing out of me.

Bee Zee has mentioned over and over again that this doesn't happen in his neighborhood. I find that hard to believe. I really do. Perhaps, it's more like it happens and he is not aware of it. Unless Bee Zee is a convert himself, which my instincts don't think he is, then I can't imagine he would know how every convert in his neighborhood is treated.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I missed my blogaversary

I just realized... (well, I knew but... how the time flies) my blog reached a year back in December.

So, what do you all think? I encourage you all to look through the posts? Does anyone think I've improved in my writing? Have I, instead, gotten lazy with my writing? Come on, I want some opinions....

Definition: Frum

This is very interesting. I was trying to remember if frum technically meant religious or observant. I originally learned it when I was in the process and I wanted to refresh this. Back then, I would have thought of "religious" and "observant" as the same thing but, nowadays I think of "religious" as someone who looks the part on the outside but, "observant" as someone who actually practices... which is, of course, a different population.

So, here's the wikipedia link:

I like the, "much wickedness and few mitzvos." That sounds like the Chareidi world nowadays, being wrought with scandals and all....

In a colloquial sense, I see people using frum to mean: comfortable to me as an Orthodox Jew... I was in the Hillel and some guy (who's not even a student...) came in asking if they have a job search center in this place. I said, "of course, the magner center." The magner center is with the college, not the Hillel itself. He asked, "is that a frum place?" I was thinking, "technically, this isn't." The Hillel is available to all Jews whether they are observant or not. However, at Brooklyn College where a good fat chunk of the Jewish students are Orthodox, one tends to forget this. So, the Hillel is comfortable for a frum person and it has a kosher fleshig place in it, but, is the Hillel itself frum? No.

Ok, just a pre-Shabbos rant....

Related post: just because you want to say something... doesn't mean you should say it

I was just thinking about the defense you get from people in the community when you complain about others asking personal questions. Often the response is, "well, it's pretty natural for people to be curious about that." Whether or not people want to know something should be independant of whether or not they ask.

For example, I recently worked for a woman who had just had a baby. Apparently, she made a new friend while she was very much showing. After she had the baby, this woman says to her something like, "oh you're skinny, I just assumed you were fat because..." Well, I actually think it's natural to see a big woman and know that she's also preggies but, it doesn't dawn on you that she's only big for the baby. However, it's better to not say these things to your friend.

The same goes true for asking me why I converted. Wait until you know the person a little and then ask, "I never asked you your conversion story, do you mind sharing it?" Don't ask in front of others. If you ask this, say, on Shabbos and other guests start showing up and the person telling you their story doesn't know these people, DROP IT. Don't say, "oh, so you were telling me...."

I have a frum Jewish friend who asked me about for sex tips to improve her marriage. You know what though? I think I knew her a year or near to it, when she asked me and NO ONE else was around. When her HUSBAND came home... the topic changed. Why can't everyone be this wise?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Converts: so NONE of you ever had this happen?

Perhaps, you guys are following the comments on my other posts. Anyhow, there is a discussion right here on this blog. I mentioned that it BUGS the STUFFING out of me that people can be all about judging Tropper favorably and YET they can make comments about how the converts are insincere. Or, NO ONE met someone and when they find out a convert or in the process, they decide it's THEIR personal duty to make sure you are fit to be Jewish. Examples of people who do this are: potential dates that ask a battery of personal questions before the date, people you meet at a shul kiddush or at someone else's house, or people who having you over without knowing who you are first-perhaps a friend, rabbi or hospitality committee made the arrangement.

So, NO ONE has had this happen to them?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Women and Judaism....

So, the owner of "Converts to Orthodox Judaism Support Group"

has asked me to write something about women and Judaism. Oy! Here goes...

When I first started my conversion, I tried to study this. As a woman, I wanted to find my place as a future Jewish woman. I started by reading, "Jewish and Female" by Susan Schneider... I found it to be too far to the left. I was give a free "Lilith" magazine. This was also too far to the left. So, then I read, Lisa Aiken's, "To Be a Jewish Woman" which I found to be too far to the right for me.

Coming into the world of Judaism is, I think, much harder for a woman than it is for a man. There are more things that a Jewish man does, however, the life of a Jewish man is more structured. Coming into one's own as a Jewish woman when you are converting in is particularly trying. There is no one to ask questions of. Perhaps you find a woman to as... only she is not in your community. Often I needed desperately to know, "do women do this?" it starts at that time but, "when do women come?" Furthermore, most of the women where I was, either didn't even know where they were in a siddur and they could not follow the service or they wanted that badly not to tell me. Another frustration is that there often are not siddurim in the women's section.

There is this big pressure on the modern Jewish woman that she should be able to support the family so that her husband does not work but learns Torah all day. I have strong feelings against this which I have blogged about.

Personally, I accepted the notion that women don't do anything. I say, "instead of seeing the 'women can't,' I embrace the 'women don't have to.'"

What annoys me about the Tropper thing

I must say it. What really narks the hell out of me about this Tropper thing is the way people are coming to his defense. Now, that post that I put up from a certain Yeshivish man I didn't name. I was at this Yeshivish person's Shabbos table shortly after my conversion and the topic was brought up about conversion. The conversation was quickly turned to how, "if they do this and that...." and essentially supporting the idea that a conversion can be revoked. Someone else at the table said, "but, what if they were observant the whole time?" No problem! We just dunk them again.

This is, of course, highly unfair and highly against halachah. The reason why converts are upset even if they are observant is that we shouldn't have to live in fear. What if someone decides they don't like my rabbi down the line? Will I be questioned?

Furthermore, this Yeshivish man is the same one who cast his doubt on converts but, judged favorably Mr. Tropper that perhaps he didn't do it. Ok, that might be fair... but, perhaps the convert didn't do anything wrong.

See, when they feel it's one of their own..... they want to be machmir to judge favorably. However, since converts are forever viewed as outsiders, they decide it is mutar to stick it to us.

Dude, it's not my fault Hashem put my neshama into a goyisha body.