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Converting to Judaism ?

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sarahla:
I am all for tolerance and the advanced sense of tolerance, but the Orthodox are anti-tolerant and just use that word.  They practice discrimination and hatred.  They advocate corrective therapy for transsexuals, who come out in their community (Canada, last year to a teen).

I personally have seen their hatred cast at me.  They use people, lie, and do not honor commitments unless forced.  I am not even making that up.  I can go into details but will not.  Let me just say that in this past year and a half of having Chabad next door and even closer, I have gotten to know them.

If I sound in tolerant, it is a learnt behavior.  In this past two years, if we toss in Europe, I have been insulted, rudely treated, shown anti-respect, and more.  I have had perverse behavior shoved down me with strong words.  I am a very calm and previous to two years ago, Orthodox to me was watching one of my favorite films, Fiddler on the Roof.

I am only dishing out what they dish.  If the Orthodox wants me to change my mind, they are welcome to start being tolerant, nice, and apologize.

By the way, Simcha Monica is personally offensive.  Upon mentioning that to them, Simcha Monica.

Is sending a teen to corrective therapy tolerant just because he came out as trans?

Lastly, they keep saying "All Jews accept all Jews, and that all Jews are welcome."  That is a laugh.  The rabbi at my temple earlier this year got all bent out of shape and started a letter writing campaign, because the Orthodox wanted to nullify all conversions made at reform temples.

They are teaching me to fight back and stand up for myself.  I object to having to have to stand up for myself.

sarahla:
There is precedence for the position.  There is another "sect" in Judaism, called "Jews for Jesus".  They have at least two perishes here in Los Angeles and probably they are elsewhere too, so not that small.

I asked my rabbi about them and his response was "They are not Jewish.  They are a Christian" cult.  Hmm.  That is real tolerant and accepting.  One Jew can cast out another Jew just because they are different.  Hmm.  Okay, why not.

Now, if you ask me, if the Jews for Jesus consider themselves Jewish, then why not.

Jewish people are just people with the same faults as everyone else.

-------------

I found the following out a few days ago.  Did you know that the Orthodox require the following every morning:

Men:  Thank you G-d that I was not born a woman.

Women:  Thank you G-d that I was not born a slave.

That is real advanced behavior.  Thank you G-d that I was not born a woman.

Stephanie.Izann:
You'll find that each Temple and/or Congregation, has their own unique way of interpreting what THEY feel is Jewish thinking in regards to Transsexuals.  This is true for most congregations, that is one of the reasons we have soooo many Temples/Congregations within walking distance of each other. We love to disagree with each other too. In fact, it's okay to question such things within the faith and they SHOULD leave it up to you to decide what is best for you.And remember just 'cause he's a RABBI doesn't mean you have to like him or her.

In response to the "JEWS FOR JESUS" comment...

I believe (me personally) that I do not have the right to tell ANYONE what they should believe in since it is written we that we ALL have a purpose on this planet. In regards to the beliefs of JFJ the Orthodox and some of the more liberal movements feel it does NOT correlate with the teaching in the Torah. Again, I'm not saying that THEY are wrong or right, I am simply saying that their facts do not correlate with what most Rabbis see as Hebrew thought.

I have actually attended many Messianic Jewish JFJ services, and found that they were extremely beautiful and enriching. I have a very good friend who is a JFJ. He always asked me if I'm ready to be saved.  I always reply, "Why should I be saved when G-d got it right the first time around?" (it's a little joke we say each time we see each other). We have decided to respect our differences although he continues to pray for my salvation. I love the guy either way.

 
JFJ actually got started back in the 60's by a BAPTIST group. In an effort to "SAVE" the Jews from hell. They have a need to convert the Jews into following Jesus and thats where most of the anger begins in the Orthodox and other movements.   But it is in my opinion, that many Religions started from Cults in the first place and only after many years or even a few thousand they became what they are now. Judaism was considered a cult too. Surprised?

So when a Rabbi says "They aren't Jewish" there's a lot more going on than those 3 words. Meaning, that either you are a Christian because you believe in Christ or you are Jewish because you do not believe he was the Messiah. Remember, that there were many men (claiming to be or think they were) Messiahs in Jewish history before him, and many after, but he's the one that won the race for that title among most of the world.

 The Orthodox believe that imitating Jewish Culture does not make you Jewish. You also have to remember that again; we are only 1.8 percent of the world.  That's not a lot.  Throughout time we have been continuously persecuted over and over and over again. So being a Rabbi, he had the duty of making sure you wouldn't "slide to the other side". I'm not saying that they are not Jewish, I'm saying that he does not see them this way for a strong reason.

In regards to the RABBI not wanting to chat about certain things...well, maybe (like most people in general) he's simply uncomfortable  or just ignorant. I know that my Rabbi tries really hard to make us all understand as much as we can but we don't have the 10 to 15 years of training they have. But here's the other thing.  RABBI's can be <not allowed>! And many I have met truly are! LOL  Again, most Temples/Congregations have their own agendas that are typically free of any huge organization.  I remember the Rabbi that Bar-Mitzvah'd me was a jerk. I was raised in the Conservative setting, and it was pure hell.  Eventually the whole congregation got together and voted him out! FINITO! DONE!

As I said every Temple/Congregation has it's own way, with it's own Rabbi directing it.  You can go to many Congregations within the same MOVEMENT and find there are a lot of differences in thought.  Anyone for Temple hopping?

Now, in regards to the more liberal MOVEMENTS like Reconstructionism and Reform. Again, it all depends on the Temple.  There was recently a handsome Trans Man that was ordained as a RABBI.  It made all the Liberal Jewish Magazines, and no one disputed this.  Most wrote in to congratulate the new Rabbi. I find that these Movements are a little easier to deal with and they tend to be more open minded with our Trans community.  My female RABBI married my wife and I. My wife is NOT Jewish. She only recently decided to become Jewish. Again, we do not push our faith on anyone.  She did this on her own.  It was actually a surprise.

I am a Reconstructionist myself. The "RECON" prayer book does praise the women highly in the bible. In fact, they go as far as adding them to the prayers..." In the name of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Sarah, ...."and so on.  They do not have a gender specific G-D either.  Because they do not believe that G-d is either one.  To borrow from Star Wars (my favorite movie..LOL)-It's like the FORCE.  It surrounds you, and binds the Galaxy. It's like you are tapping into it, rather than worshipping it. They also do not believe that anyone has the right to tell you how to live your life. And that Judaism should continue to evolve with the times rather than stay in the mentality of past generations. 
We even have some Atheists at our Temple that found comfort (without prejudice or judgement) there simply because they wanted to continue the cultural and traditional aspect of Judaism.  And in a recent Torah study, the Rabbi praised the early Pagans for giving us a few of their own traditions (which we made our own), like Passover! So you can just imagine how much the Orthodox Jews love us (I'm being sarcastic here).
We've even participated with a Mosque nearby in raising funds to get a Moslem political writer out of jail in Iran. We have even joined services with them! How's that for perspective and tolerance?!?
 
As far as people finding certain names offensive like Santa Monica and saying SIMCHA Monica...

Yep, those are the Orthodox for ya.  They find it offensive too. Meaning, they feel as though they are being forced to say something (Like SAINT) that counters their own religio-philosophy.  This is primarily because throughout history we have been forced to follow the dictations of other faiths and put our own aside.  It's their way of saying, "I'm not giving in!"  They would rather take a Jewish (Orthodox) perspective than a Christian one. They; as a whole, are worried that the Jewish people are dwindling and want to make sure that we take pride in our faith, rather than give in to others and forgetting who we are.  Again, I'm not saying that I completely agree with them.  So rather than being totally disgusted with them, I try to make them understand my perspective...and they actually have listened to me. I've never been cut down and insulted by them, in fact, they find it fascinating (being Trans).

You'll also find that a lot of the texts in the bible do not apply to the more modern Movements.  They are dated and unrealistic. Again, using the car analogy... I can't go very far in an old Ford Model T.  I prefer the more modern SUV over it.  It's got seat belts, GPS, ABS breaks, four wheel drive and air conditioning and let's not forget the airbags...you get the idea. The Orthodox still find the beauty in their model T, cruising a whopping 10 miles an hour.  I've left them in the dust with my SUV.  LOL   ;)

I'm sorry that some of you have dealt with <not allowed> for Rabbis. It happens in the best religions.  But, at the same rate I understand that there is indeed a certain complexity and dynamic to Judaism that can sometimes be mis read because there is a lack of Jewish mentality that has to be added to the mix.   In other words, you can not interpret Torah, based on the mentality and teachings of another faith. "You have to start from scratch with Judaism", as my Buddhist teacher once told me (she began researching Judaism on her own in order to understand me better).

Like I said before, it's hard being Trans no matter what faith you follow. It's hard for a follower in general to understand us. Sure, we want them to accept us. We want them to understand that we are just as important to them as any other congregant. But, we still have a long way to go T brothers and T sisters. Again, understanding that religion is a human made thing, you really don't need it. For me, it adds to my life. That may not be the case with everyone and that's okay too. I'm not bound by it. Nor do I have to subscribe to every detail (Jews are actually allowed to contradict the teachings and even debate with the Rabbis to...I.E., OH YEAH PROVE IT!). And I DO NOT subscribe to a ZIONIST perspective necessarily either, nor do I have to support Israel as a whole or nation blindly (Yes, they piss everyone off...but that's another story that is more about politics than religion I don't want to get in to).

If you are interested in the Faith, then awesome. If not, I hope you find what YOU feel is awesome because no one can do that for you ;) .
 
It is, what it is to YOU.
There is no right or wrong in your decision.

Shalom
Stephie





 

sarahla:

Hi Stephie,

Thank you for responding so in depth.  When I checked for “New Replies to Your Posts,” I did not see your response listed.  I figured that by now someone must have responded, and they did.  I wonder how many other posts the system does not make me aware of.

I will start off by saying that more than likely my hostility towards the Orthodox, Satmars, Chabad, and Ultra-Orthodox with a special loving hostility towards Chabad and the Satmars, stems probably from my partner.  (I refuse to say wife, as that is a special meaning to me.)  She is an Orthodox Jew (Satmar/Chabad really), while I am a Reform Jew, agnostic, or even open to Christianity to a point.  I like some of the New Testament teachings.  She is embarrassed and never misses a moment in public, especially around the Chabad to say “male”, “him”, and every other male thing that you can contemplate.  Just like decades ago, when I was growing up, when teenagers liked to add “Man” after every third word, I get a phrase added.

Having seen more Orthodox in the last couple of years than I ever thought possible in life, I can speak from authority.

I have no issues with them keeping their “traditions” and resenting being forced to do things.  I get it.  I really do, but if they want respect, then they should show it to others, as they would have others do onto them.  Life is a two way street.

How about instead of calling them “Rabbi Whatever”, I call them to their face “Cult Leader Whatever”.  I can also not get myself to say “Rabbi”.  Now, I have done that, as I want to show respect, but respect is a two-way street.  They obviously do not get that, so maybe they should be showed.  Simcha Monica is quite offensive to my ears.  It really is, not to mention my eyes.  Chabad places menorahs all over the city with huge letters saying “Chabad of Simcha Monica”.  They even have them on the freeway entrances, so it is impossible to miss seeing “Simcha Monica”.

There is the matter of “corrective therapy”.  “<not allowed> is a sickness.”  The list of phrases that I have heard goes on and on.  I think that being an Orthodox is a sickness needing massive amounts of corrective therapy.  By the way, it was them that introduced that word to me, although I have heard it before.  I am just dishing out phrases back to them that I had thrust onto me.  Nice people.

I expected more from Rueben Zellman than brushing me off and acting less than respectful.  He is trans, even if he does not want to belong to the group, he should be more supportive.

I like being Jewish and support Judaism.  They have a long way to go to accept the transgender community, but they have come a long way already.  There are elements of Judaism that, as you said, piss me off to no extent, because they feel that they are the only people in the universe and everyone should cater to their needs, but they do not have to cater to anyone else.  The Orthodox are part of this nice group, but there are others.

I grew up with Star Trek and life is a rainbow of colors and we all have to show respect and get along.  Sadly, many people do not subscribe to that.

Thanks Stephie for the detailed response.

Stephanie.Izann:
Well ALBdegas, welcome to a very Jewish conversation! LOL

....shall we begin?

Sarah,
My heart goes out to you. I really mean that.If you'll pardon my mushy-ness, I just want to reach out and hug you.
 I can really feel the anger and disgust you have with the Orthodox. Please believe me when I say that I am not here to convince you of anything, other than to share with you and the others my experiences regarding these issues and to share with ALBdegas, a wonderfully Jewish situation here.

I did not grow up in a Jewish neighborhood. I grew up in a small town in Texas that was predominantly Christian and Catholic.
I definitely know how it feels to be a minority ...to have things shoved down your throat. Christmas was everywhere for me.  My cousins were Christians, and Catholics and I was the only Jewish cousin among them. So it was a bummer (although, I did get my share of presents from them as well).

When I was 3, there was an attempt by a "christian" to molest me. Luckily, his hands were sweating and I was able to get away because the door he thought was locked, hadn't shut all the way. He said he was doing it for Jesus.

I went through most of my school years being hated because I was  Jewish. At the age of 7, I was stoned by a group of Catholic Kids because I killed Christ...funny I don't  remember doing  such a thing. When my parents got to me, my nose was broken, and I looked like some sort of black and blue monster.  My parents were in shock. I was still trying to process what I did wrong. I didn't know why they hated me so much. It was even bad with some of my younger cousins (despite the general "we all get along feeling") because I was constantly told that I was going to burn in hell until I excepted Jesus into my heart.  I felt very very alone. VERY VERY ALONE.

As I got older around 13, a group of Christians (and this was in another town, but still in Texas),  waited for me to get off the school bus and proceeded to try and catch the Jew to try and crucify me.  If it wasn't for this lady that saw me getting beat up and jumping in to save me, well...who knows what would have happened.

Throughout all my life, I have had to deal with the Christian Holidays, EVERYWHERE. And people saying Merry Christmas to me. Jesus loves you. Teachers marking me absent on my Jewish Holidays and not letting me make up any work for that day. It also affected my school work. It kinda sucked.

 I actually tried Christianity briefly because I too found some of the teachings very enriching. I felt like there was no escaping this, I would always feel like a loner..and to top it off I was Trans!  But it wasn't for me in the end.

Once I got into High School it just got worse. There was a Neo Nazi that wanted to kick my Jewish butt so bad that he got some of his friends together and proceeded to wait for me. This time I was prepared. I was now a black belt in Karate. Luckily, most of the people that were his friends knew me, and well, HE ended up getting his <not allowed> kicked...by them not me...and yet, I tried to stop them from killing the poor lost soul.
And I have a plethora of other related stories too.

So yeah, I understand that kind of frustration. Of a certain people shoving <not allowed> down your throat.

But, as I was saying, It doesn't excuse the Orthodox from being jerks. The thing is THEY don't feel like they are jerks. They only feel like they are following THEIR interpretation that has been propagated for centuries. That's all they know. And then add a dash of Survival of The Fittest to that and there you have it.

But here is the thing. Why should I (or you) even try to tell anyone that you are or aren't Jewish. Meaning; why send a letter to a Movement in our faith to protest a group of people that I don't really care to hang with. Maybe they should be the ones writing us letters? According to the Orthodox, Recon Jews are heretics! I don't care what they think. They aren't paying my bills or my SRS. LOL
Who makes them THE sayers of all things Jewish.  Pardon my Hebrew here... *@#+ 'em! 

No one has the right to tell you what you are, or what you aren't. Whether the topic is about being Trans or about being a member of the Tribe. Even within the Trans community you have people that say this or that in regards to being trans. Are you really more of a woman because you still have a penis? Are you really a woman if you haven't transitioned? Are you really a girl, 'cause you look like a guy and you're married to a woman! Only YOU, can allow people to upset you. You cannot force anyone to feel the way you do, nor should they force YOU to think or feel the way they do. When you give in to their authority, you've lost your own place. You've allowed for them to get to you and bury themselves deeply into you.  As it seems I am by reading your in your comments.
Once I was able to let go of that ( and girl that wasn't easy), it made a huge difference. I didn't seek for anyones validation regardless of gender issues or religion. I held my head up high, and just went along living my life as usual.

Again, adding the Trans bit into your mix doesn't help (as far as some closed societies go). I know more than few Orthodox Jewish Trans woman that are having to deal with all this too. Can you imagine what they have had to go through because they didn't want to leave that movement? Granted they live in a stealth environment for fear of getting kicked out all together.  I'd love to bring them over to my end of Judaism. It wouldn't be much of a problem for them in my corner of Jewish land.

So where am I now?
I live in a predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood.  They know that I don't follow their rules, and they never bother me. I've learned a lot from them...how to be...and how NOT to be. When my wife got pregnant, they came with gifts to our door. They know she is not Jewish...they know that I am a Reconstructionist. Do they think we are mislead or crazy for having a Christmas tree ( or as I say a Chanukah bush)? Probably. But I don't care. I don't need their respect. Nor do I allow them to embed themselves into my life. I only care for them from a human perspective with any and all religion out of the picture. I'm not going to try to convince them that my way is better or allow them to do that to me. I brush it off. I let them live their way, and I live my way. Wait til they see me in high heels! ;)

I know what you mean when you said the Orthodox  feel like they are the only people in the Universe. BUT, you have to remember that it is their will to keep surviving in a world that has constantly told them, they are not good. That they aren't even real people. So of course, they are going to try to make things work out (in their mind). Of course they are going to be hard headed when the world is pushing them to be something they do want to be or are not.  Sound familiar? Again, this doesn't mean I agree with it.

I don't think that the liberal forms of Judaism are that far off in regards to being Trans. I think they are just starting to come around. But, like I said, the whole world is still having issues with us, not just this faith. Look at our G&L brothers and sisters and all the things they have had to go through. AND even within that community, you have people that will never accept us.

As far as the Christians/Catholics go, I don't think that they are evil. I still love the Christian side of the family, HELL my wifes uncle was even ordained by Pope John Paul II!  I have forgiven all those that have tried to harm and hurt me. I will never forget though, because as you can see those things are still in my memory. I WILL learn from it and I have. Do I hate all Christians? No. Because I feel that it wasn't anything to do with their faith.  People just suck sometimes...no matter what faith they follow. Jewish people too.

Ah, to be free of any religion! Some people can and some can't. Again, it's that little compartment that needs to be filled, whether it's following that new religion called Football or ____________ (fill in the blank).

If we could all just follow the "prime directive" (you see, I follow Star Trek too).

And AlBdegas are ya learning? ;)  I haven't forgotten about you. My suggestion is to look at the differences in Movements and then visit a temple or congregation.  In the end, you will find what is best for you regardless of it being Jewish or not. It's up to you to tell them that you are Trans or not. In my eyes, you are what your heart dictates.

So girlfriend has to get ready for a party tonight...Oh yes, I'm a "bad Jew" because I am going out on the Sabbath! LOL

Just my two cents (X a thousand)!

I'm here for you both.
Stephie

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