Thursday, March 4, 2010

They do exist


So much has been written about conversion to Judaism. Converts wouldn't keep the Mitzvot after finishing their conversion; others do keep the Mitzvot completely or half. You may think whatever you like

but who is writing about them ?

Don't get me wrong ! The photo has NOTHING to do with converts to Judaism but I am only giving an example !

There are actually converts to Judaism who take their whole process of changing their religion and life more than serious. Not only going to the Beit Din (rabbinical court) and that's it. Those people mostly do convert with the anti - Zionist umbrella organization "Edah HaCharedit" in Mea Shearim (Jerusalem).

I personally know converts or Baalei Teshuva who became extremely religious and dress (more than requested) modestly. No, I am not talking about those Burka women (Baalei Teshuva from Chassidut Breslov) but about ordinary Jews who became religious, joined a chassidic group such as the Toldot Aharon or Shomrei Emunim and decided for themselves to dress modestly. Meaning, shaving their hair, putting on the regular black headcover "Yasameh" and, additionally, putting on (over the Yasameh) another big scarf. In Yiddish you would say "Schmattes" but I don't think this expression is too fair.

A friend of mine told me that she didn't convert in order to jump back into her jeans after her conversion to Judaism. She wanted more; reaching a higher level. Slowly and at her own pace.
She and other friends of mine keep their Shabbat guests in different rooms. Meaning that men and women don't sit together in one room but in two. You can find the same when you go to the Rebbe and Rebbitzen of Toldot Aharon for a Shabbat meal. Quite a few families in Mea Shearim act like that. To an outsider this sounds strange and maybe totally nuts. Nevertheless, I promise you, when you do that a few times, you just get so used to it. I am not complaining because this is the special way of the particular family. So, I do respect their sense of modesty.


Those women taking upon themselves more than actually requested can only be admired. Last Monday night, on Shushan Purim in Jerusalem, I went to see the celebrations in Chassidut Kretchnif in Mea Shearim. I was one of the only outsiders among the women but none of those female group members said a word or even stared because I had spoken a few words with the Kretchnifer Rebbitzen. From the moment you do this, it is quiet and everyone just leaves you alone.

We were standing behind the Mechitzah and watching the Rebbe, as suddenly something seemed to catch the women's attention. A strange woman had come into the room and, at first sight, people could have identified her as an Arab. However, she was not but one of those real modest women and to me she looked like totally modest Shomrei Emunim. The Kretchnifer women found it quite strange but didn't say a word. The young woman, on the other hand, kept her pride and watched the Kretchnifer Rebbe without getting involved with any looks. I found that very astonishing and admirable.

It is not easy getting in touch with those women and even if I know them, I am too shy to ask why and what. It is none of my business but those women shouldn't be forgotten when it comes to the issue of converting to Judaism or doing Teshuva.


  1. I know actually quite some geirim and baalei teshuva who live in/around mea sheorim.

    Really chassidishe Yidden in every aspect. Very tzniusdik, speaking Yiddish, etc.

  2. Did they serve food to the women at Kretchnif this time?

    Speaking of seperate tables, I heard a surprising story, but somehow it made me happy. I know a guy who's family would host the previous Pshevorsker Rebbe, Reb Yankele, when he came to Williamsburg from Antwerp. At his first meal, the women began to leave the room, and he said, sharply, "stop! Women and men eat together."