Friday, May 6, 2011

Part 4: socializing with converts

At the same shul, my convert friend of a minority descent told me it took her almost a year of regular Shabbat and shuir attendance to be offered a lunch invite. And that was after calls were made and she still rarely gets invites. My friend is nearly a generation older, but has a bubbly personality, elegant style and mannerisms, interesting career. People love to schmooze with her during kiddush but don't extend further. My friend feels because of her age and ethnicity, is often treated like a cleaning lady when she asks for shidduchim or hospitality and gets a polite brush off. Both of us are active in another shul as well, and at Chabad, and are quite generous in giving time and money to community causes. We go to shuirim together regularly and we both after years, still feel like we get the outsider treatment. It's not like we are takers, we both give plenty.

All the sudden the text colors aren't working...

Anyway, I also meet people very naturally in other scenarios but not so much in the Jewish world.


  1. what would happen if you were to invite people instead to your place--they'd say no b/c they would assume if you're "only" a convert it's not kosher enough? i heard a woman in the shul i go to say she never gets invited b/c she's divorced and ugly (she was a born jew) so it's not just converts who don't get invited...but i just wonder maybe there is a diff reason for which you don't get invited which isn't about being a convert--can that be also?

  2. Anon, What's with the snotty tone of voice in your reply?

    Personally, I stopped having people over since girls would just not show up because something better came along, be rude to me in my own home, put fleishig & milchig in each others areas in my kitchen, and take cookies into my bedroom without asking.

  3. oh, and why did you ask multiple times what she addressed in the post?

  4. I'm the guest poster

    First off if your divorced friend wants to come over, I'd be happy to have her. I do address hosting in my post soon. I wrote this up at one time, but Michal has made into serial novel. Makes for an interesting angle, I'm at a cliffhanger at the end of each series and I wrote the posts! I do have to wonder why one would question if I invite people just because I first described my and friend's pain in not getting invited. I specifically discussed my involvement in the community so that it would not be suggested that we are 'takers' by wanting to be extended hospitality since I/my friend are known to frequently help others. I do realize readers haven't seen my full write-up yet, but why jump to this assumption?

    I do offer hospitality through the shuls I'm a member of. I am open to having people over most weeks since a friend (or 2 or 3) and I usually are going to be doing our own thing anyways so I don't mind having people fill the rest of the space at my table. I have had very poor luck directly inviting people outside my little circle of friends when I ask in way in advance. But I do often get asked to host people at the last minute (ie. late Thusday night or Friday afternoon) that find themselves without plans. People do frequently come back to my home, but only as last minute request through hospitality, not when I extend a direct invite. So it can't be that I'm such a terrible hostess if I get frequently return guests—it's more like they are hoping for 'better' but will settle.

    Like Michal, I've had a number of experiences where other singles are no shows or cancel at the very last minute if they get a 'better' offer. Very discouraging. When multiple people pull this for a meal, they are wasting my $$ and it's very embarrassing in front of other guests that were expecting there to be more folks. I end up having leftovers I can't eat all, as some foods just don't freeze well so they get tossed. I have cut back on being so fancy as I'd prefer as I'd rather not waste.

    Worse, it is often that rare ocasion when I could have had other plans. Either offered a rare invite, could have gone to a communal meal, or gone out of town if I had known i'd wind up by myself, but I had already committed to doing a meal.

  5. I'm the guest poster again

    In terms of Kashrut, given the question asked, it does suggest the reasoning is 'convert = automatically assume issues.' Doesn't matter I converted a while ago and I'm more strict than my beit din required. I go to great pains to try to make everyone comfortable asking if they have any specific dietary or kashrut concerns or preferences.

    Most of the time, I will get take-out for shabbat and I leave it in the package until the meal if new folks are coming. There are a few places that I really love nearby and the cost is close to what I would pay to make it myself. I hate doing dishes so I use foil tins, paper and plastic for most items.

    I will supplement the take-out by making a salad, a few light veg or fruit sides to make the meal a bit fuller yet healthy. I keep my lightbox in plain display and given people often have lots of questions about using a light box, it suggests I'm more careful than my guests are.

    I paid a rav to set up and verify my kitchen when I first moved in. I don't cook dairy so my pots are meat with a few parve ones. So there's no chance of a meat and dairy mix up. I only use reliable hechsher. I am not sure there anymore that I can do. Especially when guests feel welcome enough to eat by me multiple times, but not reciprocate as I discuss in an upcoming installment.

    I've had more kashrut trouble when I attempted to have roommates. FFB roommates repeatedly ruined my parve pots, utensils, pot holders, dish cleaners, etc. by insisting or repeated 'accidentally' cooking dairy when they were told well in advance of coming in I have a meat only kitchen. They saw nothing wrong with it doing whatever they felt like to the point I was no longer cooking in my own kitchen until they left and after I had replaced the questionable items they used.

    I would have been agreeable if they had their own dairy pots and supplies, but it is so not cool to take someone's parve pots and dairy them! Amazingly no one was questioning the kashrut of my former FFB roommates who are far more lenient than I am.

    Yet, as a convert (again, I'm not a recent convert, nor am I that modern, I lean towards yeshivish), it doesn't look like I'll ever escape scutiny. Why the double standard??

  6. sorry i wasn't trying to sound can't necessarily tell when a person write things the tone of voice, i was just asking if other people may have in mind other reasons regardless of whether those reasons are legitimate or not, that's all.

  7. i don't know if you're going to get 2 comments for this also but i was trying to write to explain that sometimes when you post on your blog, you can't tell if the message was sent or not since it doesn't appear immediately, only after you appprove it and also, sometimes when you try to post a comment i get an error message "service unavailable" so i don't know if i posted or not the message...but if you get the same message twice, just delete one of them.

  8. Yeah, I was trying to stretch it, since finals and two thesis papers are coming so I have little time.

  9. Well, I just know a lot of people ask me that and I get sick of it. I started staying home, but I get all my readings done for school done on Shabbos. Plus, I catch up on sleep from when I spent all week staying up doing school work.

  10. In my community. The first time I came to shul on shabbos I was offered hospitality for lunch straight away.

    Some people don't know how to act/let alone approach converts/ BT's. People might not know you well enough and vice versa.

    And as others have said. It can be discouraging to invite people who decide to go elsewhere if:

    1)They got a better offer
    2)Made other plans
    3)Didn't give the family hosting them any notice to say they couldn't make it.

    I'm sure people will feel that other people don't bother to see if people need to be hosted. Others may not be able to do so. Some will have a few people invited and may not be able to host last minute.

    It's a shame for anyone to spend Shabbos alone. It takes time (years) even for people to immerse into the community. Give it some time.