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: 207

Replies to This Discussion

The very fact that you have people in this forum attests to a need to bond with others of similar experiences or likes. While we have rejected the idea of a God, that the Torah is True, and that the stories are nothing more than literature, it does not mean that everyone feels equally comfortable with rejecting that connection entirely. For example, in Israel there is an atheist kibbutz made up, mostly, of Russian immigrants. They are proud of their bond, as only Russians can be, and proud of their atheism.

 

But there is a difference between being part of the club because you got the lifetime membership (Jew) and actually believing in any of that (Jewish). For example, if you are invited to a Purim party, which is basically a costume party (costumes were a a much later addition) with a lot of drinking and dancing and singing, based on a story that cannot be placed historically - do you denounce such things, or accept the invite and have a good time? I agree with @Loren who brings up the social nature that we humans crave.

 

I had a friend who was Scottish (in the USA) who, every month, put on his kilt and got together with other Scots and did whatever Scots do (I am still not sure). It was a cultural thing, and he could name all kinds of Scottish history that I was ignorant of. It reminded me of the Flintstones where Fred and Barney would go to the "Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes Lodge No. 26".  But in the case of finding such a social outlet that is devoid of any reference to a deity, is going to be tough. And if a religious reference is disturbing to you, then perhaps a different social outlet or connection would be more appropriate. It doesn't have to be Jewish, but it could be. In other words, find your own comfort zone, and be honest.

 

 

E.....I enjoyed  reading  your  comment and found it quite  helpful.......I have  enjoyed  the Atheist  blogs  and Forums in A/N and also  their  chat room .......I decided  to  join  the Jewish  Atheist just  because  of my Jewish  roots...So between  the  two rooms I should  meet  plenty  of  Atheists and   Jewish Atheists   and  share  thoughts with  both .....thanks  for your  input...

According to Jewish law, you will always be a Jew albeit a "naughty" one.

Hi Mordekhai.....I am used  to being  `naughty'.......so being  a naughty jew  is fine  with me.....I would  hate giving up eating  shell fish!!....I  will have to get used  to the reference  of  being  an Atheist Jew however...    Thanks  for your  response....

There is a Yiddish expression: If you're eating pork, let it drip from your beard.

You are a Jew. Period.

I do not have a beard........It is not fair  to  Religious  Jews to just  call myself  one...I should  distinguish myself as an Atheist Jew in fairness to them.....

It's an expression, for Christ's sake! LOL!

Tell the frummer Yiden you're an apikoros!

I was raised Jewish. So let us ask, Am I still Jewish???

I am NOT Jewish in the sense that if you define Jewish as a religion, the the fact that I do not do Judaism (or any religion) makes me NOT Jewish!! And "Jewish" is just a label I was taught to have in order for my parents to avoid feeling too guilty due to the possibility of not teaching me to have the label they were taught to teach their kids to have. You do not do any part of Judaism, so you are not Jewish!!! Now you need to find a life and find fun activities and hobbies and stop obsessing over religion and culture and the fact that you are an atheist and you used to do Judaism and catholicism and so on.

I do not have time to care what labels other people need to call me by (in order for them to avoid feeling too guilty or bad due to the fact that I don't participate in the religion/ culture I was taught I have to participate in and have my life revolve around) and you shouldn't care either.

At least two people at atheist events asked me whether I identify as a Jewish atheist and I replied, no, I do not identify as a Jewish atheist, I identify as Michael.

You got your sons circumcised? That was a very evil thing to do to your sons. You did not not know any better. You do now.

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