When I was 30 - just before I got married - I converted to Judaism.  Studied Hebrew, Basic Judaism, went to the Mikvah and before the Beit Din. 

From what did I convert?  Hmmmm....seekerism??  Anyway, up until the time I was 11 my family were serious Catholic and then my father had a crisis of faith and we just stopped going to church.  I liked the pageantry and ritual of the Catholic church (I am old enough to remember the Latin Mass which was pretty neat).  But I do not think that I ever really believed - the whole Jesus thing never resonated at all (I was, however, a fan of the BVM).  Was always interested in Judaism and was exposed to Judaism growing up - weirdly enough I remember lighting the Hannukiah some years and doing a kind of Seder a few times.  (My mother, Boston Irish Catholic, lived in  predominantly Jewish neighborhoods as child and teen in the 30s & 40s; she told me that an elderly Jewish woman who lived in her apartment building became a sort of sanctuary for her from her chaotic family.)

So, I met my future husband.  He grew up in a pretty secular Jewish family on Long Island (the only Jewish thing they did was Passover).  When it was time for his Bar Mitzvah his parents took him to this Orthodox shul that basically served as a quickie Bar Mitzvah factory - turned 'em out in 6 months!  I converted and our two sons were raised Jewish, Hebrew school, Bar Mitzvah and all that (oh, yes, we even had the mohel come to the house for the bris 2x). 

Until the time our oldest son was about 3 we belonged to a Conservative congregation but when we moved we joined a Reform congregation (mostly for convenience because it's about 2 miles from our home). 

When I first converted I sort of dived into it.  Even thought about keeping a kosher (when I told my husband I was thinking of keeping a kosher house he asked whose house???!)  But over the years the doubts that had never gone away kept creeping back -- which made it diffiuclt over to figure out how to be Jewish and how to have a Jewish household.  And, as stay at home parent all that stuff fell primarlily on me.

A few years ago we resigned from our temple because the boys weren't interested and it was too large.  We've been joining our oldest son's girlfriend's family at their Chavurah for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the past 2 years.

Anyway, one of my struggles was that most liberal/moderate Jews (as opposed to Orthodox) are pretty secular -- very much about being cultural Jews as opposed to religious Jews.  So, as a convert who wasn't sure she was actually religious it was difficult -- how do you convert to a culture??  I tried to become more religious:  did the adult Bat Mitzvah, took Bibilical Hebrew, read a lot, etc -- hoping that something would happen.  It never did.

So,here I am finally "out" as an atheist. But I do not want to leave behind Judaism totally.  I have been thinking of looking for a Secular Humanist Jewish congregation - but that feels inauthentic in some way because, if I converted but now no longer am religious, am I Jewish?




Tags: Judaism, coming, conversion, out

Views: 196

Replies to This Discussion

I am proud of you. My husband came from a jewish father and a lutheran mother...were raised fairly agnostically, but since the mom liked her traditions, easter and Xmas were celebrated. No church, and no temple.

But as the many kids married, each converted to the spouse's religion without a pang. 20 odd years later we can see how that has worked.

The parent's openmindedness and general not caring about religion (whether for good or bad) has come back in an interesting way. My inlaws and I are all basically atheists. My husband and I are the "out-est", and though he is the convert, he is probably jewish-er. But we never did the hocus pocus when we adopted. Our kid wouldn't be considered jewish. And only MY family loves their god more than us. Religion just becomes one more thing to divide us imo.
Both my parents are Jewish and I was brought up reform, never really believing in a 'God'. It wasn't tangible enough, rational enough for me to be really interested. I went to a Jewish school from age 11 to 18 and felt uncomfortable being a minority Reform Jewess amongst the 'far superior' Orthodox. I saw divisiveness not only then but when I was about 6 years old when at a mostly Christian school I was told I was a 'bloody Jew' by one of my 'pals'.

Religion always has left a bad taste in my mouth and about 5 years ago I became a strong Atheist after having read Hitchen's God is not Great, The God Delusion, Dawkins, and Sam Harris's End Of Faith (an Atheist Jew himself) and worth reading if you haven't. I am so content being an Atheist, as is my partner, who was Irish protestant until I helped deconvert him with The God Delusion's help.

I choose to not partake in any Seders, Shabbas etc. All the 'traditional culture' has reference to God in it whether you believe it or not. I studied it both in English and Hebrew, in great detail as part of my early indoctrination and I will not go down that road for any 'cultural aspect'. I believe that most of what Jewish Atheists crave and miss is the social togetherness and community experience that these festivals bring about on a regular basis since the beginning.
If you want to be Jewish, if it has importance to you, I think that you should pursue it. I want to be Jewish, but I didn't come from a Jewish background, and I don't believe in god. I am looking for some kind of authenticity to my cultural identity as well. I don't feel like I am the one who could tell you that you are or are not Jewish, but if you try to find someone who could, then you probably are. You should talk with Ruthe.
Yes...please check out Secular Humanistic Judaism...and my blog: www.TheAtheistRabbi.com.
Thanks - will do :)

You don't need secular Judaism or any religion. Just abandon all this Jewish and Judaism nonsense and fine a life that doesn't revolve around any particular religion or culture. Find a few hobbies or fun activities you like to do, alone and with your family and your friends. Try to be as culturally unbiased as possible. This should be easy for you, being an atheist. Perhaps read about a variety of familiar and exotic cultures and realize that you don't have to waste time doing any kind of traditions or ceremonies just because you had converted to Judaism. Don't just do any practice or have any belief just to fit in with any group. Do not first pick a group and then do what you need to do in order to fir in with them. Instead, figure out which activities and positions you want to do and hold, and then seek out those people who are compatible with YOU! Another thing, never let your son get circumcised! Circumcision is serious sexual assault that was invented by certain ancient tribes in order to inhibit masturbation.

"Circumcision is serious sexual assault that was invented by certain ancient tribes in order to inhibit masturbation."

Um...I am not sure where this explanation came from, but I can guarentee you, based on the memories of my youth, that it didn't work!

 

I had a could couple of minutes laugh. Thanks! :D

 

Actually, many ancient civilizations that preceded Judaism also did it. For the Egyptians, it was part of the rite for the various priesthood indoctrinations to open the initiate to certain mysteries (whatever they were), and not to keep one's hands off of "Mr. Happy".

 

Interesting input found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_male_circumcision

 

But thanks for the chuckle! :D

Stop laughing. You have no right to have an opinion about male genital mutilation for the same reason nobody will let you have an opinion about Jerry Sandusky's conviction for rear-end raping boys in Lockers rooms. Either Jerry Sandusky's sexual assault was good or bad or neutral. He was an assistant football coach at Penn State University. The reason you instantly recognize that rear-end raping boys is bad but cutting parts of boy's bodies off is good or neutral of funny (if you call it circumcision) is because you grew up in the bubble of American and/or Jewish culture, and your culture taught you to think one assault is funny while another assault is horrifying. In the bubble of American or Jewish culture male circumcision is considered good or neutral while other assaults or abuses are considered bad. Other abuses other cultures have done include female circumcision, foot binding in china, putting boards on kid's heads to change the head shape until the kid was 4 years old, in Mesoamerica, bizarre hazing-like initiation rituals, and so on. When I mention female circumcision, you are instinctively repulsed. The reason is because in American and Jewish culture, we don't do female circumcision, not because you used your brain to realize that all these assaults are just as bad as circumcision. It is not the case that male people are born defective, needing part of our bodies cut off. Both sexes are equally good and should be treated the same. Notice that in a circumcision the mother never watches them hurt her son. A lady in California glued her kid's hand to a wall and got sentenced to 99 years in prison. You don't think that is funny. Cutting pieces of male people's bodies off is funny to you. I'm not laughing.

I meant that you grew up in the bubble of Israeli Culture, and in the bubble of Israeli culture, cutting part of male people's bodies off is considered good or neutral, while other very similar behaviors like cutting off parts of female people's bodies, would never be tolerated. The reasons given in favor of circumcision are just as false as the reasons given in favor of doing religion.

Actually, I grew up in the USA and moved to Israel 10 years ago. In 1952, the doctor automatically did the procedure, because it was commonly done then. (When I was 18, I became religous and had a "do over", which was just having a drop of blood extracted.) As a kid, I grew up in a Christian area, but in the community showers, I only recall seeing one other kid during my entire childhood uncircumcised. I recall thinking he got the tipped cut off somehow, but never asked im about it.

 

So no, it wasn't Israeli culture, but American culture. And it wasn't done for religious reasons during my day, while some did, but they were a minority. But I can understand your dielemma, just not your obsession. I have had an active and enjoyable sex life, and I never mourned the "loss", because it affected me in no way. Are you mourning your loss and are angry at your parents about it? Is that what this is all about?

The reasons you are not able to feel what you are missing due to your circumcision and why you think you are unaffected by getting part of your body cut off is for the same kind of reasons why color blind people are unable to see why their eyesight is off. Additionally, nobody likes to feel like something is wrong with himself, so of course circumcised people do what you do, invent or borrow reasons why circumcision is good, why they are in good shape, and so on. By inhibit masturbation, I mean that of course circumcision doesn't eliminate sensation; gently stroke your palms and then try to gently feel your glans and notice the difference. With reasonable respect, you will feel a lack but laugh and convince yourself you have all the sensation possible. I don't want you to feel shitty about yourself or seem too arrogant or smart, but I know I know what i am talking about. I do want to help make circumcision illegal just like female circumcision and other sexual abuse and assault is. I am like an atheist while you are still religious in terms of circumcision. You do realize that Judaism is a system of maladaptive obsessive-compulsive behaviors and beliefs, right? I know that I didn't know what circumcision was until the week after I turned 27. Then I read a bunch of information about it. Even though I was taught that circumcision is done to mark us as different, it was actually invented  in order to try to reduce sensation because that is how obsessive-compulsive Judaism is. I suggest you read a book by Leonard B. Glick which I read, called " Marked in your Flesh, Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America." There are other Jewish anti-circumcision activists and anti-circumcision organizations. Look up foreskin restoration. Look up Elyahu Ungar-Sargon, Ron Low, Norm Cohen, Miriam Pollock.

Of course I can laugh at nonsense. "To keep boys from masterbating"? LOL!!!

And now you devolve into the same false-equivilance that PETA uses "eating meat is murder!". For females, the process is done to mutilate the clitoris and prevent her from ever having any enjoyment from sex. For men, it is the removal of a cowl of skin, a result that ends up sensitizing the penis during sex. Some may argue that the movement of the sheath may also add enjoyment, but I don't know if that is speculative or not.

 

In other words, like peta, the "Save the Penis" activists make this false equivilance for the sake of...I don't know. You might as well call peircing the earlobes of baby for earings is ear mutilation, just like the mutilating their clitoris!

 

And then you have the balls to equate it with anal sex? ROTFLMAO!!! You are now just making shit up, you know that, don't you? 

 

Dude, you really need to find another outlet for your obsessions!

 

Pardon me while I share your stupidity with a friend of mine. He could use a good laugh as well.

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