Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Can't You Date Me?

Anonymous Contribution

You want to use my "story" as an inspirational topic to a group of 
students (how touching), but if I come up as a suggestion for your 
cousin, or your best friends brother, I'm suddenly not as interesting.


Why don't people want to date converts?

I've been dating for almost six years (since my conversion date). Though I've dated guys from born-and-raised-religious, I'm often confronted with situations where a guy is suggested to me only to find out he won't date me because of my convert status. I'm becoming quite accustomed to hearing "Oh, she's a convert? I'm gonna have to pass," or even the "He's busy right now, don't call me, I'll call you if anything changes." This always comes without even a mere inquiry or a glance at my Facebook profile.



Judaism accepts converts as real Jews, but it seems the Jewish world today isn't functioning with that recognition. Its painful to experience this rejection from a religion that gave me the inspiration, tools and place to become a Jew. Judaism, in its essence, acknowledges me deeply. But the people often don't. Unfortunately this is the harsh reality.

So let me get this straight: You welcome "our type" with open arms into your Chabad House, for a Shabbos meal, but...stay the hell away from your son? Or you want to use my "story" as an inspirational topic to a group of students (how touching), but if I come up as a suggestion for your cousin, or your best friends brother, I'm suddenly not as interesting.

I have a few questions: Is just me, or is there something I'm not doing? Are other girls from similar (or different) backgrounds experiencing the same "talk to the hand" responses over and over? I understand that everyone is entitled to say yes or no to a date for his/her own reasons, but what is hard for me to understand and accept is this "no-discussion" policy; the hands that go up like "Nooo thank you!" Why can't you call a friend or my Rabbi or my roommate? See if your assumptions about me being the "over-the-top-frum" or "flaming bal-teshuva" type are correct. My guess is you're wrong.

It makes me so sad to think this is how closed people have become. And hurtful. No one person is better than another, no matter the persons background, I want the same things your daughters want: to marry and love (and be loved by) a wonderful, normal, frum guy.

24 LadyMama voices:

Sheena said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, as a daughter of intermarriage I experienced a lot of naivety while I was dating i.e "What shul does your father go to?...Oh, maybe this isn't the best match after all. Good bye..." (And good luck sweetheart!)
I thank God that I found an FFB boy, who, when told about my background, was wise enough to ask, "But she is frum? What is the big deal?" and I know a convert who married an FFB who felt the same way as my husband.
It really is appalling, disheartening and frustrating how close minded people can be, but there are good ones out there, after all, the Jewish gene pool needs people like us!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I'm sorry you're going through such a difficult time. In general, American jews are superficially judgmental. The situation you're encountering is only one of many unfortunate results. Here, in every sect of Judaism, at every level, we judge each other. Does she have a white tablecloth on shabbos? Does she wear red nailpolish? Does she wear pants? Once a question is answered to someone's dissatisfaction, they do not inquire further. No asking rabbis or finding out about middos. They are content judging based on superficial information. It's most likely a result of the society we live in, and its probably why American Jews are so splintered.
I once heard a great expression from an aish rabbi - don't judge Judaism by the Jews. I'm sorry you're having such hard time, but remember, all challenges Hashem sends our way are tests to strengthen our faith. I'm positive you'll find the perfect chosson one day. Until then, stay strongin your faith and lead by example.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I am very sorry. I read your article, and I can feel your pain. When you inquired to become a convert, there were reasons that the Rabbonim did not encourage you to become Jewish. The road was not going to be easy. That is life. I am fat. Many people dont want to date me cuz I am fat. I have to deal with it. Is it fair? NO WAY I say,, but it doesnt change things. I live with it. Period. I hate when people do things, (eat garbage and get fat, or convert to a religion that DID NOT ask you to become Jewish) and then complain that the going is rough. I am sorry. I disagree with you. A person who does not want to marry a fat girl will not date me. A person who does not want to marry a convert will not date you. The end. For you to sit and moan about it, instead of finding the guys who are willing to date you is counterproductive.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

If it is as you say, Its wrong. My sister is married to a child of a convert. My mother always said. If it was good enough that David hamelech came from converts then it si good enough for us. You have to welcome converts and we may not make them feel their difference. It is a sin we are all to bear. However. The flip side. Conversion standards are falling across the world some countries the standard is so low it is questionable by so many authroities whether or not it is passes teh beasic rules required by Judaism. Its a problem. And sadly I beliveve it will get worse.

rina said... [Reply to comment]

to the 3rd 'anonymous'
she is not sitting and moaning. the article was written to educate people,and open their minds a bit. she can't just go out and find people to date, thats the point of the article!!
and to the writer,i totally know what you're going through. it can be super frustrating, and this is going to sound annoying, but the one who you are meant to marry will not be bothered by the fact that you converted- he'll actually be impressed!!!!

rina said... [Reply to comment]

oops, my comment was to the 2nd 'anonymous'

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Why would you want to marry someone with an anti-convert perspective anyway? They are doing you a favor by being forthright so you don't have to deal with them from the start. Think of it as a blessing and stop complaining. People want what they want and there is very little you can do about it. You should be working with a shadchan that has a more openminded clientelle. Also, there is something to be said for marrying someone who comes from a similar religious background; it can make visiting families easier.

Ahuva said... [Reply to comment]

I am a convert married to a born-Jew. no one should know the hell we go through daily from our families not understanding each other, not to mention latent feelings on both sides that we didn't acknowledge when we were dating. Go for someone of similar background. It will save you a lot of pain.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I was in the same boat as you when I was dating. I know what you are going through. Having people reject you again and again because of the whole convert thing seems ridiculous and is very painful in actuality. My approach to dating was that if someone didn't want me than i didn't want them, but that approach doesn't actually solve the problem, it just pushes the hurt away for a little while. Yes, it is hypocritical when you are lauded in any other context but in the venue of a first date, people decide they don't even want to come near with a ten foot pole. I converted as a young teenager, and went through "the system." I never thought it was a big deal until I got rejection pushed in my face.
Thank G-d I got married to a wonderful man. He also happens to be a convert. He is also bitter about the dating experience he went through, probably even more so than me. He was sick of shadchanim who judged him as "deficient" and never had any leads for him. I know what your thinking and no, we weren't set up because we are both "damaged goods." We were suggested many times by friends, based on our personalities, until we finally got to dating each other and it clicked. I have no answers to this issue, but want you to know that you are not alone. The guy for you is out there and you will find him.

Malki said... [Reply to comment]

Anonymous: Hmmm don't know that I would equate choosing to be Jewish and choosing to be fat.... It sounds like you too have experienced rejection at the hands of a shidduch system that shuts doors quickly on people who don't meet certain arbitrary criteria. it sounds like you are doing the best you can to accept that the system has flaws and move forward but I am sure its been a process for you and that there was a time where you were not as fine with things as you currently claim to be. The reality is it's hard to be Jewish and its hard to be a woman. It's also true that rejection under any circumstances hurts. So the best we can do for each other as Jewish women is acknowledge that, validate each other, and support one another in our journeys.

Malki said... [Reply to comment]

Call it whatever you want - venting, complaining, whatever. Sharing one's feelings is a way to cope. Sharing your struggles with others can elicit the validation and support needed to help some move forward and problem solve. I wish more women "complained" more - we often keep it in suffering in silence thinking our problems aren't a big deal or because G-d forbid we be seen as a kvetch. I think that's why blogs like this are so helpful: they remind us that we aren't going through things alone.

Chana said... [Reply to comment]

Wow this article is really so heartfelt, honest, and painful. There really are no words to describe what you are going through. I could not agree with you more that people have terrible attitudes and its completely irrational- you are Bas Avraham and Sarah, what could be better then that? Hold your head up high! You deserve an amazing guy and he will come!

Fat Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I am the girl who wrote as anonymous that is fat. I just want to add some pointers. I get by on my personality. There are people that dont mind my weight, and there are people that do. I need to respect that. I do. It can be upsetting at times, nonetheless, I understand that I will be rejected for my weight. There are people that dont mind a convert. My mom always told me that every pot has its cover. I am sure there are wonderful people out there for most singles. But to Bash Chabad for trying to exploit your story, and then not want to marry you because of ur being a convert sounds incredibly narrow minded to me. As a mom of my kids, IYH, I hope I will want what is best for them. I may think long and hard if I want my child to have to live with non Jewish relatives. (Meaning, would I want to subject my kids to having grandparents that celebrate xmas or halloween, or easter, or whatever.) I am not saying it shouldnt be done, but by all means, you were searching, you found your niche, now u need to find someone who can appreciate you for who and what you are. Every psychologist will tell you that someone of similar background will do better as a marriage partner, than someone of a different background. Why are you davka looking for a partner that was born Jewish? Are u so narrow minded, that you are not interested in a convert yourself?
While I come across as harsh, and unfeeling, I think I am playing the devil's advocate, because I do care. I feel like sometimes a kick in the head makes a person see things from another perspective. I understand that things are not easy, and I am the queen of frustration, so I can understand that too. I only wish you utmost Hatzlocha, and maybe one day, after you find ur Mister Wonderful, Im Yirtzeh Hashem, you can perhaps start an organization that can help people in your predicament. As to mine, there are many organizations,, and weight loss is a multi billion dollar industry,, so I dont see myself figuring that one out too soon. May Hashem help you to find your right guy at your right time, and may your right time be NOW!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

I really feel for you. Six years is a long time, and IY"H, I hope your search ends soon (and I'm sorry if you're sick of hearing that sentiment, but I really, really mean it).

As a fellow convert, I share your pain about the lack of acceptance we have in general Jewish society (and to anon #1, I don't think it's only an American problem. Sorry). There are so many places in the Torah where it tells people to love a convert, but, let's face it, there are also places where it tells us not to speak lashon hara, and that still happens, unfortunately.

Stay proud of your choice and your journey, and know that when you find your match, he will truly appreciate the sacrifices you went through to become who you are.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

:(
A few months ago my husband and I made a beautiful match, the couple were both very happy till his mom found out that the girl is a daughter of a convert.... And she broke it up... Both are still single.. Why???? Her family is such a core involved family of a Chabad community.. Why? My husband and I ,both ffb , discussed this issue and my wise DH said ' bemokom she baal teshuva omen, yin tzaddik gammur omen' the posuk says ' in the place that a Baal teshuva stands, a total tzaddik is not as righteous...'. And we agreed that this would not come in the way of our own shidduchim at all.... I hope someone with kids of age smartens up soon and takes an honest sweet girl like you as a daughter in law soon... They will be the lucky ones :)

Basya said... [Reply to comment]

Ouch! Brings back painful memories. Thank G- d they're just memories now! You too will be able to say that soon! It's hard to see when you're looking to forward to meeting the one and again and again the same phrase keeps coming up and seems to be the only block, but try to look at that phrase as weeding out the ones that will lead to divorce! If they truly have a ounce of disrespect for a persons background, that can't be good for either of you! My husband was speechless (awestruck) after hearing my journey to yiddishkeit and kept wanting to hear it over and over. He grew up modern orthodox and also had his own journey to Chabad.. So their are true believers and acceptance of converts out there. I hope our comments give you strength and support to forget about the rejections . They come in all different kinds of forms. Fat, poor, short, too frum, too modern, boring, orphan.. Anyhow! Just remember, it's the darkest just before the light at the end of the tunnel !

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Hmmm, well, everybody else has given the appropriate chizuk, so I'll bypass that part and get straight to the crux of it.

I converted when I was a young teen together with my family and we all became Lubavitchers. I also went through the system including Bais Rivka. I married a FFB Lubavitcher from way back. I definitely don't come across as anything other than a typical Lubavitcher woman. But the truth is, I know I'm different. I know that even as I've raised beautiful frum children, there are some things my kids missed out on and I believe it shows. Why? Because when I was growing up I didn’t experience those things, I didn’t grow up with a ‘Yiddishe Mame’, so I could only create a limited version of what I had picked up from the homes I’d gone to and the learning I’d done. Yes, I know that Baalei Tshuva can also be limited that way, but I suspect there is a difference although I can’t put my finger on it.
And although my husband’s family treats me with great respect and warmth, making me feel as comfortable as they possibly can, I still feel and KNOW that I’m a stranger among them. At their weddings and gatherings, I get involved as everybody else does, but there is a tangible difference that most would like to deny. Maybe it’s that if they aren’t all related, they practically all knew each other from Russia. That my only relatives there are my own kids. That I know that I missed out on something growing up that they all inherently got. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that it’s because of those feelings that they aren’t allowed to remind me that I’m a ger.
Now that my kids are looking for shidduchim I have to say that nobody has ever openly said no because of their background (although honestly I’ve expected it and wondered if it goes on behind the scenes). In fact, plenty of ‘gezhe’ names have come up and have said yes while we’ve said no.
But the painful truth is, although I’m proud to be a convert, I’d never want my children to go out with a ger. Because I know for certain that they are truly strangers, as I am. That they won’t have all the tools when raising their children that come more naturally for someone who was raised frum. Ironically, when my husband was dating, the Rebbe had once asked him if the woman he was asking permission to date had been born from parents who had kept Taharas Hamishpacha. When the answer was no, the Rebbe did not give an affirmative answer (this was a personal answer, please do not consider this to be how the Rebbe felt across the board). My husband no longer considered dating a baal tshuva an option. However, because I am a ger, that condition did not apply to me, and when my husband asked permission to date me, the Rebbe immediately said it was appropriate.
The right person is out there, he’s looking for you too. Be grateful that you’re not having to waste your time dating guys who are not destined to be your husband. Whether they (and I) are small minded or not, their views are sparing you the emotional ups and downs of dating men that would never end in marriage anyway. The one you will marry will not hesitate because you are a ger, he will honor it. Shake the dust out of your eyes and focus on the goal. You only need one guy, the right one.
You are destined to have had a certain number of men suggested to you before you find your bashert. Don’t get caught up in the little things; someone said no? Celebrate! One more guy you didn’t have to waste your time or emotions going out with. You’re closer to your intended than ever before!

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

To the last anonymous poster at 8:48 You are only a stranger if you make yourself to be one. The writer of the article does not feel that she is a stranger. She feels like she belongs and that's why this is so painful for her.

Don't push your own emotion on someone else who does not feel the same emotion. Maybe you should start looking at yourself like you do belong with a only somewhat different past.

People, not just frum people, all people have fear of the unknown. Is she going to know this, is she going to fall back on her old habits? These are things that some people might think, because they don't really know you anonymous writer. No one can see another persons real true soul.

I wish I had advice that would be helpful, but I feel this article wasn't asking for advice. I feel you wanted your voice and your valid point to be heard.

I wish you luck!

KozoMiami said... [Reply to comment]

I sympathize with you.
It gets better, wait till you have kids:
the kehilla has a long memory and it doesn't matter if your kids are frum from birth etc. - they have their own" in limbo status " as well.
Well, like one of those commenters wrote : why would you want to marry someone who doesn't appreciate you for the wonderful and committed Jewish person you are!
Be an individual, Jewish person.
Find a person who is worth of you!

And don't let it get you down.
Keep looking and hatzlacha!

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

Becky,
Please don't misunderstand. I DO feel like I belong. I KNOW I belong. But a ger IS a stranger. And after almost 40 years, it is still a fact. When G-d forbid, my frum parents pass away, I'm not required to sit shiva. A ger creates their own history, they don't come with generations of history. And it IS tangible, no matter how much we belong.
My point was that just as I am aware of that fact and the effect it can have on what is brought into a marriage, those who say no to a shidduch with a ger feel similarly.

Anonymous said... [Reply to comment]

My experiances while I was raised religious/jewish since I was 5,(converted a few years down the road later on) the discrimination in chabad and other frum circles was there and it took on many forms- some verbal abuse, emotional and ganging up tactics,ocassionally physical abusive when it could be gotten away with.
But it really became so obvious as I went looking for a shidduch and was interested in a frum from birth mate.Raised frum almost from birth, I was set up consistantly with people who hadn't been frum for much time. What else should I expect I was basically told.
I realize now I should have looked for another group to meld with Chabad is either or: FFB OR Bal Teshuvos/Converts.
I didn't think I had a choice- imagine that!?
When I finally married one, the snobbish behavior and the 2nd class treatment I recieved and my children recieve today from my inlaws I finally realized it wasn't really worth it. While I was very committed to being religious and all the trappings my other half with the Gesher, wasn't, and isn't till today. Its taken me years to realize I did them a favor marrying into their family.
I think there are alot of things to keep in mind, most of all
BE YOURSELF, DON'T REMAKE YOURSELF INTO ANOTHER PERSONS IDEA OF WHAT YOU SHOULD BE.
Becoming Religious/Jewish doesn't mean You get lost in the translation somewhere.. It means you're refocusing on other points.

kitty said... [Reply to comment]

Your personality and individuality is what brought you to Yiddishkeit- add to it - don't bury it or lose it!!!
1- Find someone who will respect You for who you are and not who your grandfathers uncles brothers mothers fathers yechus was.

2- if you do marry into a yechus family or gesher or frumfrombirth, better have something to back yourself up with like Money or Power or position and deffiantely make sure you have a profession so you will be respected at least for one of those.

3- Grow very,very tough skin and don't be influenced or intimidated by "them" or who ever they think they come from - (We all come from the same place and frankly Adam and Eve wouldn't be so impressed with their own yichus as much as some of the people I've come in contact with.

4- Its' nisht SHIACH!- (an answer that is used by alot families when asked if they are interested in a shidduch, after they have done their "RESEARCH".
If they can't see what a gem you are then maybe your looking in the wrong neighborhood. Find someone with like backgrounds, interests- you'll be happier and you won't need to keep impressing people who have trouble seeing anything that is worthwhile that isn't what they are familiar with.

5- Be happy you are who you are and be proud of who and what made you, who and what you are today, never appologize!(That includes your relatives)

6- every convert brings with them something special to the mix- too much imbreeding is bad for a group!

7-Look up to examples like Rus and Unkolus etc. They helped to make Klal yisroel the great nation it is today.

8-whatever strengths, gifts and talents you have - make the most of them and celebrate them - find a way to make them work for you in the frum world. You'll be a happier and more balanced person if you do. No one should discourage you from using your G-d given talents!

9- when someone tells you or your kids- ( and it unfortunately has happened more times than you can imagine) You don't know what kind of Yechus I come from:
Let them know you are a direct decendent of Avraham and Sarah....- can't get any closer to being a Jew than that!(and ofcourse there is no question in your background about being Jewish)

10-Its more important that your shidduch be about mentchkeit and good midos and a commitment to a Torah way of life than anything else.
So, if you can't find what you're looking for in one group, look in another.
Don't limit yourself!
There are plenty of plain "pashit" yiden, who love the Abishter and serve Him with joy- Not all G-ds children are Chabadniks or Chassidim.
You became a Jew because you felt it was the right thing and it drew you to G-d. Remember that feeling, and don't let others predjudices stop you from living the kind of life that you wish to lead.
Know that you are not alone and that there are many of us cheering you on- Hatzlacha and Bracha!
**
copyright 2011 from
A Converts Guide to joining "the Jewish Family"

FromAcrossTheSea said... [Reply to comment]

I am a BT myself and sympathize with you. However, as someone who lives in a largely BT community with many geirim, I have also seen tragic cases of backsliding after marriage, leading to divorce or worse.

Therefore, I fully understand the reticence of some potential mates or their family to accept a shidduch with a BT or ger.

The answer - invei hagefen veinvei hagefen. We do not have the same backgrounds and experience as FFB Lubavitchers with roots in Russia do and there are enough of us to marry each other. I think we BT's are a majority in many Chabad communities, even if the shaliach or rov who controls those communities is FFB/gezhe.

I happen to "pass" because of my acceptance of Lubavitch cultural practices such as dress, Yiddish that is better than that of some of my FFB friends, knowledge of Lubavitch history, friendships and connections, pride in my complete ignorance of American and European pop culture etc but still I know who I am and know that I am different from them - and so be it.

I do not look to marry an FFB/gezhe - whoever I marry is Hashem's will in any case. Any children I may have may well marry into such families as they will be brought up as indistinguishable from their peers from gezhe families - or they also might not be accepted because I am who I am - but this is no issue.

I have seen the children of BT families accepted and not accepted just as frequently - and see below regarding BT's who really live in a different (and fully frum and acceptable) world and really never can expect full acceptance by Chabad "society".

I may look the same and speak the same language as my FFB friends, but, for instance, I do have a college education, and therefore I am both inside and outside the world of "old" Chabad - and I am just fine with that.

One caveat - if you are the Matisyahu/Carlebach/organic food type (as opposed to someone who feels more comfortable and is culturally in the Avraham Fried/niggunim/check only kashrus Chabad mainstream), you are not going to be accepted by many people in "old" Chabad because their culture is different. You will be welcomed to a point, but you never will feel a part of that world.

On the other hand, there are enough different subcommunities within Chabad that everyone finds their place in what is a (sometimes too) open tent.

So, be who you are and find your soulmate from among those who are as you are.

Moishe said... [Reply to comment]

I hear the pain and frustration. The dating scene and landscape has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. As has been pointed out, there are many BTs, FFBs ben/bas BT and Geirim looking for shidduchim. Many have their own unique challenges. Whether it be too tall, too broad, overweight, too petite (5'),red head, medical condition (even if it has been cured since), parents divorced, dysfunctional family, foreigners outside the USA, in addition to the BT and geirim cases. As the Rebbe answered to one individual who requested a brocho for a shidduch "Bitochen in Hashem and Shadchan Baal Meretz". The key is not to be turned off by people who lack sensitivity and are not willing to exhaust their energies to help you find a shidduch.
As I have come to learn, every case is unique and no generic answer will suffice similar situations. Status aside (ie BT, ger etc)we are dealing with 2 personalities, character traits, needs vs wants/desires and its very important not be judgemental without knowing all the details.
I am dealing with cases of geirim more often than ever before. Sure there is rejection based on ger status alone, however, we move past the rejections and B"H the geirim I am dealing with have been presented with offers.
Like ALL shidduchim, it takes effort, persistence and associating with people who have your interests at heart.
I would love to speak to you if you feel I can be of any assistance.
Rabbi Moishe Raitman
Www.ShadchanCOACH.com