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Old 12-03-2012, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Denver Metro
107 posts, read 97,644 times
Reputation: 51

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I'll try to keep it short and let you know what might be relevant to my question(s).

I have no religious background. I know my great grandmother was a Christian because she had a picture of the grown baby Jesus on her wall and she gave us grand kids Bibles on "special occasions" but we never talked about God or Jesus. I have no idea if my grandparents or parents were religious because none of them ever mentioned God, or Jesus, or anything else about religion.

I, personally have always believed in something. I've never believed in nothing. As a teenager and in my 20s I attempted to study the Bible in a handful of attempts, but it just never felt right to me. I always felt uncomfortable with what was being taught, original sin, etc. I would never last more than a few weeks before I stopped studying.

Sometime around March of this year, I began to try to figure out why so many people were anti-Israel. In that process I decided to find out if there was something about Judaism that freaked people out. As I watched different documentaries and especially "Jewish 101" with Rabbi Mark Golub, Judaism seemed so sane. I didn't have that creepy feeling of discomfort that I felt when I had been studying the Bible. What I have experienced so far has me thinking that I want to convert to Judaism.

Bad idea?

What should I know about Judaism before I start that I'm not going to learn in a documentary or educational program?

Do you have any suggestions of videos or books I should look at to start with?

Any advice at all?
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Eretz Yisrael
21,378 posts, read 24,152,982 times
Reputation: 8875
Watch the following movie: Cast a Giant Shadow. It'll give you insight into why Jews act the way they do. As to a book to read: Chutzpah by Dershowitz.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:03 AM
 
Location: Denver Metro
107 posts, read 97,644 times
Reputation: 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruzhany View Post
Watch the following movie: Cast a Giant Shadow. It'll give you insight into why Jews act the way they do. As to a book to read: Chutzpah by Dershowitz.

I've seen Cast a Giant Shadow I think when it was first on TV and again just recently on hulu. Is their something in particular I should notice about this movie? I recall a big theme being the psychology of Jewish people. There seems to be a similarity between being Jewish and a person who has a stalker. But I must admit I live in a community with a small Jewish population.

I'm impressed with Jewry as it is presented by Rabbi Mark Golub. Are his views of Judaism the exception or the norm or neither, if you're familiar with him, of course.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:33 AM
 
Location: Long Island
1,726 posts, read 1,391,930 times
Reputation: 1428
I'd suggest these right off the bat:

Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History: Joseph Telushkin: 9780688085063: Amazon.com: Books
This Is My God: Herman Wouk: 9780316955140: Amazon.com: Books
Amazon.com: To Pray As A Jew: A Guide To The Prayer Book And The Synagogue Service (9780465086337): Hayim H. Donin: Books
To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life: Hayim H. Donin: 9780465086320: Amazon.com: Books
Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism: Dennis Prager, Joseph Telushkin: 9780671622619: Amazon.com: Books
Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends: Anita Diamant: 9780805210958: Amazon.com: Books


I'm a convert to Judaism, and these were required reading assigned by my rabbi.
They do a good job of laying a foundation for learning about Judaism.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:44 AM
 
Location: Eretz Yisrael
21,378 posts, read 24,152,982 times
Reputation: 8875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snardley View Post
I'm impressed with Jewry as it is presented by Rabbi Mark Golub. Are his views of Judaism the exception or the norm or neither, if you're familiar with him, of course.
I've tried listening to him on Comcast, but his voice is annoying making it difficult getting through the segments.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:11 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,817 posts, read 10,727,564 times
Reputation: 2523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snardley View Post
I'll try to keep it short and let you know what might be relevant to my question(s).

I have no religious background. I know my great grandmother was a Christian because she had a picture of the grown baby Jesus on her wall and she gave us grand kids Bibles on "special occasions" but we never talked about God or Jesus. I have no idea if my grandparents or parents were religious because none of them ever mentioned God, or Jesus, or anything else about religion.

I, personally have always believed in something. I've never believed in nothing. As a teenager and in my 20s I attempted to study the Bible in a handful of attempts, but it just never felt right to me. I always felt uncomfortable with what was being taught, original sin, etc. I would never last more than a few weeks before I stopped studying.

Sometime around March of this year, I began to try to figure out why so many people were anti-Israel. In that process I decided to find out if there was something about Judaism that freaked people out. As I watched different documentaries and especially "Jewish 101" with Rabbi Mark Golub, Judaism seemed so sane. I didn't have that creepy feeling of discomfort that I felt when I had been studying the Bible. What I have experienced so far has me thinking that I want to convert to Judaism.

Bad idea?

What should I know about Judaism before I start that I'm not going to learn in a documentary or educational program?

Do you have any suggestions of videos or books I should look at to start with?

Any advice at all?

I don't think you NEED to read anything in particular before talking to a rabbi - who will probably be happy to give you things to read before you start a formal class (even a formal class does not represent a commitment to convert, but as its a commitment of time and energy, it might make sense to read something first) OTOH you might want to know at least which rabbi, in which stream of Judaism to approach first. One hears of Jews by Choice (the nicer word for converts to J these days) who enter first one stream, are very unhappy, and switch to another (this goes both ways - Reform or Conservative who then get reconverted as O, or Orthodox converts who drift away from O) or who leave J entirely, when they might have made a better "match"

I would suggest going to a bookstore in a city with a bunch of Jews, and browsing the Judaica section, and finding something appealing. Also visit synagogues of different varieties. Maybe even try to find some non religious Jewish events to attend - Israel rallies, holocaust memorials, community festivals, etc - because entering the Jewish people is MORE than adopting a new faith.

A rabbi I know who has some good podcasts on line is Rabbi Brad Artson. They are interesting even if you don't share all his views.
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:19 AM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
8,817 posts, read 10,727,564 times
Reputation: 2523
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snardley View Post
I'm impressed with Jewry as it is presented by Rabbi Mark Golub. Are his views of Judaism the exception or the norm or neither, if you're familiar with him, of course.

The extent to which there are norms regarding outlook shared by all is limited.

Old joke goes like this. A ship passes a desert island, and sees someone waving on the beach. Its a Jew, who was shipwrecked years ago. The captain goes ashore, and the Jew proudly shows him what he's built. A lovely house made of palm branches, a workshop, a small farm. "What are those two stately buildings over there" the Captain asks. "Those are the synagogues" the Jew replies. "Why do you have two?" "Well, one is the one where I pray, the other is the one I refuse to set foot in"


There are certainly Jews who might not strike you as so sane. Where on the spectrum they may lie, we may not all agree about
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:59 AM
 
Location: small Southern town balabusta
1,138 posts, read 1,435,340 times
Reputation: 761
There are great suggestions above on reading. I would also say go to services, and meet people (services may be in Hebrew, or in English. Post here before you go to services if you want so we can tell you what to expect). You'll know quickly if it's your community or not. I've never been happier in my life since I converted. It wasn't easy - but so worthwhile if that's what your heart tells you to do.
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:03 AM
 
Location: small Southern town balabusta
1,138 posts, read 1,435,340 times
Reputation: 761
Quote:
Originally Posted by brooklynborndad View Post
One hears of Jews by Choice (the nicer word for converts to J these days) who enter first one stream, are very unhappy, and switch to another (this goes both ways - Reform or Conservative who then get reconverted as O, or Orthodox converts who drift away from O) or who leave J entirely, when they might have made a better "match"
This is interesting and does happen. I would say that most of the Jews by Choice that I've met aren't very unhappy with one branch, though. Many of us enter through Reform congregations because we are accepted more readily there, but later, for many reasons, switch to Conservative or Orthodox. I don't have statistics, but I'd venture to say that it's extremely rare for us to leave Judaism for a better "match" once we convert. Most of us have "felt" Jewish all of our lives, and it's a decision that we are joyful to make and stick with. Thanks for letting me add my 2 shikels.
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Old 12-04-2012, 05:10 PM
 
Location: small Southern town balabusta
1,138 posts, read 1,435,340 times
Reputation: 761
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1+1=5 View Post
shikels.
I mean shekels. I've lost the ability to spell.
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