Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 14 February 2011

She Missed That Lesson

A couple of years ago a patient of mine and her son became interested in Judaism.  Despite my lack of encouragement they decided to convert.  Somehow they found their way to the local Reform Temple, did whatever study program is offered there, had the holy mayim sprinkled on them and became Reform Jews.
If I ever had my doubts about the comprehensiveness of the Reform education they received, they were completely confirmed a few months later during a routine appointment. 
The patient had been noticing some worsening of her chronic back pain but insisted that she had done nothing to aggravate it.  I agreed that a spine X-ray would be in order to ensure that nothing sinister was affecting the bones.  I told her that the results would most likely be okay and she smiled and said "Well, I'll cross my fingers just in case."
There was a brief pause and then I said "You know you're not supposed to do that anymore, right?"


Tzivia said...

I'm tutoring a woman now who's been living in the Reform community since her conversion MANY years ago (like 40?). Her Hebrew is lousy and she has absolutely no awareness of calendar, tefillah or any other area I've delved into so far. She is adamant that she's not Christian - which makes her, basically, nothing. :-(
I wonder what it is there that people feel is worth converting FOR? Surely not just becoming "not-Christian."

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

There seems to be 2 parts to any good conversion. One is a willingness to share in the common destiny of the Jewish nation. The other is an acceptance of the authority of Torah law on oneself.
The problem with Reformative conversions is that Judaism is presented as a religious form of secular Western liberalism so why wouldn't any clear thinking good hearted person appreciate that? The second qualification, the acceptance of Torah law, is either ignored (Reform) or watered down to avoid imposing any meaningful obligations (Conservative).
So your friend's choice makes perfect sense. She is part of a religion that, in her mind, exemplifies the best of secular values. Why shouldn't she feel like she belongs?

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Actually, there are definitely people out there who look for a good way to be 'not Christian'. They are spiritually inclined, want to worship God, but have no other framework - so they come to a synagogue. I have met such people in every town we've been in outside Israel. They are 'lonely men of faith'. ;-) There is no good, developed B'nei Noah context for them; and the majority around them are Christians. So their appearance in the synagogue isn't so out of place. I know that's not what we're talking 'bout here; but Jennifer's comment made me think of that.

Y. Ben-David said...

Actually, here in Israel, in situations like that, people say "l'hachzik etzbaot" which literally means "to hold (one's) fingers" which I think is more or less the same thing that the lady said.