Dec 27, 2011

The Big Reveal

Note: If you want to respond to the content of this post, please post in the comments. Any emails sent to me privately on this topic will be posted in the comments section, with or without the author's permission. I'm trying to keep people's comments/feelings on this public so I don't drown in negativity and criticism that surely will arise, as this is a tenuous and potentially life-altering post. 

Well, my banner gives a hint: I'm rebranding -- both the blog and myself. A lot of people (looking at you @Mottel) believe that people aren't brands, but other people (looking @jeffpulver here) believe that people are and can become brands. Whether I intended it or not, I am my brand and my brand is me. I'm Chaviva, the Kvetching Editor, and this blog is the face of that brand. Do I include every minute detail of my life here? No, gosh no. If I did, y'all would be overloaded and I'd end up looking like some narcissistic lunatic. That being said, I've always prided myself on honesty, forthrightness, and truth.

I was speaking with my therapist today, after several weeks of throwing things around in my head whether this post was going to happen. With that note up top there and with what I'm going to say, this post will serve as therapy for me, and I hope it will take the weight that I'm "hiding" something off my shoulders. I'm a firm believer that if you don't inform on your brand, someone else will, and that's how gossip and lashon hara begins.

I am a Jew. I don't fit in a box, and although I tried very hard after my Orthodox conversion to throw myself into the tidy box of Orthodoxy -- Get Married, Move to a Big Orthodox Community, Have Only Orthodox Friends, Dress the Part, Wear the Headcovering, Go to the Mikvah, Live and Breathe the Box of Orthodoxy -- it didn't work. My marriage failed, my life shook, and I uprooted myself to Denver where I now feel more like myself than I have in a good three years.

Slam Poetry. Music. Film. Writing. Smiling. Laughing. Feeling at peace in my own skin -- except, of course, when others send me emails or texts or chats telling me how I'm letting down the people who look to me the most as a beacon of conversion to Orthodox Judaism. I'm made to feel guilty for feeling happy.

And why am I happy? Why am I really happy? Because unexpectedly, in early November, while sitting at the local Starbucks (a shonda!) doing work, a fellow walked up to me and asked to sit down. While he stepped away, I fled. I was just divorced, I was pretty sure he wasn't Jewish, and I think he was hitting on me. Then, time and again I went into that Starbucks and we struck up a friendship. That friendship over movies and ridiculous YouTube videos and existentialism and family/emotional drama and our love of rodents and books and music and everything else led to now: I'm dating this fellow. His name is Taylor, and Taylor is not Jewish. Taylor's what he likes to call an agnostic-atheist, meaning that he respects everything that I believe but that he doesn't buy into any of it. Has it resulted in any contention? Not really, no. He leaves me to my Shabbat observance, recognizes my kosher-keeping, and the fact that we're both vegetarian (okay, so I eat meat when I go to @melschol's house) makes cooking for each other at my place a breeze. Right now, he's perfection for me. He makes me laugh, he makes me smile, he makes me feel okay being me.

Yes, I've taken to eating out at the two popular local vegetarian/vegan restaurants -- City O City and Watercourse. I can get my weird vegan kosher Daiya cheese, plenty of vegetables, and a bounty of gluten-free options in a city where the only kosher "restaurant" holds a monopoly on the kosher business and serves subpar food (want to open a kosher restaurant? sorry! it can't be anywhere near the one that exists -- va'ad rules). But guess who thinks it'd be cool to open a kosher vegetarian restaurant? Taylor. Go figure, eh?

What else should I put out there?

I've reconsidered having children, I've reconsidered marriage. The children thing has a lot to do with family things that are too private for me to detail here, and the marriage thing has a lot to do with, well, being married and it going so horribly.

Yes, I know what you're all thinking/saying: Chavi, you just went through a tumultuous time, this is to be expected, don't count anything out! Or perhaps, Chavi! Just go to Israel and study in seminary and figure out your Jewish self there! Oh I know, some of you are even thinking Chavi, you're rebounding! It'll all get better once you meet a nice Jewish boy.

And perhaps all of those point are valid, but I've heard them from every angle. Rationalize things all you want, but this is who I am right now and this is how I'm happy right now. The truth is, I don't think I ever fit into the clean Orthodox box I thought I did. I wanted to, I tried so hard, but the Orthodox I fell in love with and the Orthodoxy I practiced were two different things. It doesn't make my past posts any less valid or significant, and I hope people still read and learn from them. I'm a Jew. An underconstructionist, rebranding Jew.

I'm still kosher, I'm still shomer shabbos. I still believe firmly in everything that makes Judaism work and functional. Torah m'Sinai. The important thing is that I'm not letting myself stop. Some of you may think I'm regressing, pouring into the plight of intermarriage and diluting the Jewish pool. And you'll think what you will, and I'm okay with that. I've come to peace with it.

This is my derech. My derech to which HaShem is privy. In the end, yes -- I'm a public figure, people associate and look up to me, I impact lives -- but at the same time I'm a person who is just as confused and searching as everyone else. The difference is that I've forced myself into the public eye and have to continue to stay true to myself and my readers.

As always, this is just the beginning. I'm going to let my haters be my motivators this time.


Niki said...

Chavi, congrats on your happiness. People don't fit into boxes and can't be expected to. You're living a Jewish life and anyone who wants to judge will regardless of how happy you are. Don't let it bother you! Mazel Tov on moving on and refinding yourself!

Caroline said...

You know what? I think you're awesome, and I'm grateful to learn from you each and every day. And I'm just some random person on the internet. Down with haters... I am awed by your strength, your faith, and your honesty. Keep it coming...

Just call me Em said...

I have been reading this blog for some time, and every time I've come lately, I have been surprised. Pleasantly. I am amazed by your bravery and your willingness to encounter and embrace life in all its complexity, without apology.

My story is long and complicated, but the short version of it is this. I was not born Jewish, but I have always felt Jewish. I was also born non-heterosexual. I am a woman who is ecstatically happily married to another woman, and as such, any conversion path other than Reform, is closed to me. I am sharing this because I wanted to tell you that your thoughts on the tension between a life that "looks" Jewish and meets the expectations of other Jews; and a life that is authentically being lived by a Jewish person, are so a propos for me at this point in my life. I feel like I am always telling myself that as long as I can continue to strive to be shomer shabbos and kasher my kitchen, and live out Jewish values in my home and the world, then it doesn't matter that my family will never look like a Jewish family to most observant Jews. Hashem knows my neshama and my heart, as He knows yours.

I'm sorry if this is babble-y, I feel like I went too long lurking and now everything is spilling out. I thought it was important to let you know that this difficult time in your life is inspiring to perpetual outsiders like me.

Leah in Chicago said...

It's not that big a reveal for those of us who follow you on Twitter, but one that I'm happy you made public!

I hosted an interfaith event a few weeks ago and was shocked by the number of converts who showed up - not to talk about their interfaith family of origin, but to talk about the interfaith romantic relationships we often find ourselves in and how to navigate this unexpected path.

I think converts should be allowed to grow and change in their Jewish identity the same as born Jews. I also think that bloggers should be allowed to grow and change the same as non-bloggers.

Mazel tov to you - keep growing and changing!

Lily said...

I'm glad you're happy, though I don't see how dating a non Jew can jive at all with Torah values personally. I guess that's the "underconstructionist" part...

But isn't this exactly the sort of thing that makes the big rabbi guys question conversions and cause really really big issues for truly Torah-observant Jews who keep all 613 who just happened to convert under the same beis din as one supposed "bad egg"? We all lapse, our observance does change over time, but being in such a public eye, I just wonder what sort of adverse effects this will have on your conversion and potentially others. I'm not sure that claiming "but I don't want to get married, so it's not interMARRIAGE!" is really going to fly on this one.

In the end, honestly, no one, not even your beloved readers should give two shits about what happens in your bedroom. That's your personal, private life. If that includes a non Jewish guy, that's your business. What I am trying to get at is, forcing this issue to the public blogsphere seems like it could have more damaging effects than positive ones. What do you hope to gain from it?

Like I said, I don't care what happens in other people's bedrooms, but I worry about not only a friend but the innocent bystanders as well. Perhaps having many convert friends, including two who have had their conversions stripped from them, makes me a bit paranoid.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@LeahSarah I puzzled over why it was significant and/or important for several weeks, and I did so because I'm a public figure, and because people were asking a lot of questions and I was getting a lot of comments from folks that rumors were going around about x, y, z.

I understand that my choices have repercussions, and I'm not out to hurt or damage anyone associated with me, but I do not think I am a "bad egg," and if you do, that really bums me out. But there is no such thing as stripping someone of a conversion -- it's not a tenet of Judaism, period. I don't want to be a part of a Judaism that thinks it can take away people's Jewishness.

Lily said...

I doubt we will see eye to eye on this one. I'm just hoping you really understand the potential consequences of your public statement. I am not wishing ill on you nor am I claiming that this is definitely going to cause issues.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

I know. Don't believe that I'm so naive as to think that it won't have consequences.

Nora said...

I'm glad you're happy and feeling like yourself. Those are hugely important things. Especially in the wake of a crazy, busy, difficult year. I hope you continue to find happiness where ever you are.

I've been consistently amazed at your honestly and openness in sharing with the world. Anyone who wants to judge you for that should get over themselves. Virtually everyone I know- convert or not- struggles with their faith at some point. You're no different. You're just a woman living a Jewish life. You've chosen to allow that to be public knowledge but you deserve to keep searching, just like everyone else.

Bracha said...

As long as you're rebranding, why not ditch the ex-husband's last name?

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Bracha Well, because I am proud to be a Galatz woman -- those Galatz women are seriously some of my most favorite people ever. Also, Chaviva Edwards just doesn't have a ring to it.

Anonymous said...

"I think converts should be allowed to grow and change in their Jewish identity the same as born Jews."

I completely agree.

Philo said...


Go & be happy. Don't feel any guilt. You deserve happiness, and someone else who makes you happy is worth the world. You are still a good Jew, and don't anyone tell you otherwise.

Marquis said...

I read your blog. That does not mean that I know you or that I am your friend. I can give you advice.

Be you.

Anonymous said...

@LeaSarah Considering that half the mitzvot have to do with Temple sacrifices and we haven't had a Temple for 2,000 years, no one "keeps all 613" nor is anyone capable of doing so, barring ownership of a time machine. If I'm understanding your point correctly, you're saying that it's okay to "lapse" in terms of observance, as long as you keep it from being public knowledge. Or looked at another way, it's ok for you to lapse, but as long as I don't know about it, you can continue to look good in the eyes of your community while still getting to judge others as a side benefit? That kind of hypocritical attitude--demanding perfection, but just from ***everyone else***--is one of the reasons liberal Jews find it hard to take Orthodoxy seriously.

Also, Chaviva is correct, there is no such thing as stripping someone of conversion. For every community or rabbi out there that thinks there is, there are far more communities and rabbis that will welcome all Jews, which is what a convert permanently is upon conversion. The concept that you can somehow take away someone's Judaism (the "bad egg" theory) is nothing more than a perversion of Judaism that a minority of small-minded Jewish communities make use of in order to feel superior to other Jews. It's a power that only exists to the extent that converts so treated desire not to walk away from communities treating them in that manner. But it's a wide world and wide klal Yisrael.

Which, it seems to me, is entirely Chaviva's point.

Amanda said...

Your honesty is very brave, and you should feel proud to have the courage to share these personal things about yourself.

TMC said...

You could decide you're a Pastafarian and I'd still think you're awesome and deserving of happiness. ♥

Anonymous said...

Judaism is hardly a "do what feels good" religion. There are clear expectations of what it means to live as an observant Jew. Non-observant runs the gamut. I am sure there are no shortage of folks who feel like you do. I am not here to judge. I only "know" you online and have always enjoyed your blog posts and pictures. You do appear happier, you are coming off a very short term marriage that was not what you had hoped it would be. To an outsider, it's classic rebound. I always question whenever a person does a 180 degree turn. What the lady above said is unfortunately correct. How much harder will your big reveal make conversion for those in the process? There are reasons why rabbaim make orthodox conversion difficult. They are afraid it won't stick. By dating a non Jew you are undoing the conversion. There are different rules for converts, like it or not. I have plenty of non-Jewish friends. Many here would continue being your friend and were friends of yours before the orthodox conversion. Are you staying Jewish because it's part of your branding or is it deeper? Whether you realize it or not, you do sound angry. Bitterly disappointed. Hatzlacha. You should have contentment in your life, in whatever form that takes.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Leah Unfortunately, you can't "undo" a conversion. And there shouldn't be different rules for converts. "Like it or not" shouldn't be the answer, should it? Are you okay with that? That you question why I stay Jewish hurts, deeper than you can imagine. I started pursuing Judaism when in 2003. This blog started in 2006. I came to Judaism long before this blog existed, and long before I became this brand, around 2008.

My marriage/relationship with Tuvia was three years of my life -- it wasn't just a "short term marriage" as you suggest.

And if my choices make conversion more difficult, then that shows my clout, and I will do everything in my power to change the path of conversion. Trailblazers never have an easy time.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

From @gTorah via DM:

(can't comment using phone) I've been davening for you every single day for weeks now, and will continue to do so. Need to register that your last post bothers me a lot. You're no less of a Jew, none of us are perfect. But with apologies; I feel your last post was a Chillul Hashem - the definition of which is something that makes Shomrei Torah uMitzvos look bad. I wish you only the best, and hope you are successful in your search for yourself and happiness. And I hope you find it very soon.

Ms. Minister of the Interior said...

Good for you, girlfriend. Like everybody else, I'm just glad you're happy. At last. To see the light of joy after a long, long period of darkness... well, I know from experience that it's the most life-affirming thing in the world. You are blessed, and you are a blessing.

Hadass Eviatar said...

The pic you posted on FB gave me some inkling of what your big reveal might be ;-). Good luck, honey. Yes, you will get a lot of haters, but don't worry about them. Your Jewish neshama is between you and HaShem, and nobody can strip anything away from you in that realm.

I hope things go well with Taylor. You never know where the road will end up ... and you deserve to find happiness and peace.

Anonymous said...

You are missing the point while you thrust yours forward. The marriage part was short-term. I did not suggest the relationship had been. The grilling that goes on in conversion is to make sure it's a strong commitment. Otherwise, why go orthodox when there are two other choices that don't take serious issue with interfaith relationships?

Heaven knows I never want to hurt a person, even accidentally. But to stand by watching and say, "Hey, I am cool with all that" would be dishonest. That I am not.

To OPENLY chronicle the ortho conversion and then the decision to not live as an observant Jew (kashrus and Shabbos aside) -- you can't claim to date someone who isn't a Jew and be observant -- make it hard for other converts. People will wonder - is this a passing fad or is it real?

You wrote this expecting some comments counter to your feelings. My words are the sentiment of many who choose to live this kind of a life. You can't be surprised to hear this.

Kate @ said...

I wrote an awesome comment & the whole thign was deleted. The gist was this: I believe in you, I have faith in you, and above all else, I will support you in whatever path you take from here. My dear friend, you deserve happiness, & I'm only sorry that some refuse to see that happiness doesn't come in the same package for all of us.

Kate @ said...

By the way, I feel it necessary to add in another piece of my original (very long) comment: As expected, you've already encountered negative reactions from people who either refuse to empathize or whose narrow-minded religiosity refuses to allow them to try. You have never been one of those people, even as your "most Orthodox," & for that I've always been thankful. You've always searched for the "true you," you've always been underconstructionist, & you've always been honest with yourself & your readers. That last one is all we can ask of you or ourselves - but I would remind folks like Leah that honesty does not need to be spoken, necessarily, at the risk of being hurtful. I fail to understand why people who don't "know" you feel so personally offended by your decisions. Aren't they entitled to theirs, bloggers or not? And so are you to yours. I, for one, thank you for the honesty, & I wish those who have negative things to say would remember the old adage & not say anything at all.

Neil Harris said...

As a reader of your blog, I get it. You are searching, and that's a good thing. I commend you for putting it out there.

As a frum Jew I also know that number #11 of the Rambam's Ani Ma'amim means that no matter where you put yourself on the Jewish scale (having nothing to do with "branch" you affiliate with or if you were born Jewish or went through geirus) our actions have very localized and spiritual effects.

As a person who has appeared before a beis din regarding my own "Jewishness", there are questions you are asked and things that the convert agrees to follow, like Mitzvos.

As a former "kiruv professional", I've seen people go through issues of becoming frum/Jewish and thinking if I do A,B, and C then it will equal a happy, spiritually fulling life. It rarely works like that and I hope someone told you this, Chaviva before you began your journey.

I'm not hating, just thinking if it's about you fitting into Judaism or Judaism fitting into you?

Now to the vegie-meat and potatoes:
Since you mentioned (about 3 times) in your post that you feel you are a "public figure", I'm curious if you've discussed this with a Rabbi or mentor that you're close with or even a member of the Beis Din that witnessed the tranformation of your Jewish neshama?

While it's great that you're seeing a therapist, if he/she doesn't get the whole "Torah u'Mitzvos" thing, then the tikun won't be 100% complete.

KosherAcademic said...

Chavi, I love you and support your choices the way you are, whatever that means at any given time. I'm happy you are happy!

I don't think that Jews, or anyone, were meant to stay on the same path. Life is a journey, as is yiddishkeit. Moving along that journey means that there will be changes and reassessments. Good for you that you acknowledge the journey and don't let life get stagnant!

xoxox :)

esther said...

Mazel tov on being happy. My personal experience shows that a union between a Jew and a Gentile can produce awesome kids. The key is for the parents to be happy with themselves and to love each other.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry some of us traditionalists aren't rolling out the mazal tov's. Sure, we all evolve in our lives. Does this mean giving up the fundamentals of our faith to do so? Who says? Why is it wrong to stick to the rules as you investigate ways to enhance it? This does not make us haters, those who aren't super exited by the development.

Sure, do whatever you want. That is what is important, the "journey" and any other buzz words necessary to rationalize.

Don't take the tone of this wrong. Understand how seriously I take those who convert. It's a hard decision, a gut wrenching experience, and an enormous commitment.

Why give up something you worked so hard for? Do you think any of us born into the faith are free of such examinations? We all have ups and downs.

If I am disappointed it is not in your choice, but what this choice will ultimately mean to your future. It's out of love. Not judging.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry some of us traditionalists aren't rolling out the mazal tov's. Sure, we all evolve in our lives. Does this mean giving up the fundamentals of our faith to do so? Who says? Why is it wrong to stick to the rules as you investigate ways to enhance it? This does not make us haters, those who aren't super exited by the development.

Sure, do whatever you want. That is what is important, the "journey" and any other buzz words necessary to rationalize.

Don't take the tone of this wrong. Understand how seriously I take those who convert. It's a hard decision, a gut wrenching experience, and an enormous commitment.

Why give up something you worked so hard for? Do you think any of us born into the faith are free of such examinations? We all have ups and downs.

If I am disappointed it is not in your choice, but what this choice will ultimately mean to your future. It's out of love. Not judging.

Tamara said...

Leah, she hasn't given up anything? She didn't say she's giving up her faith, her Judaism. It's only "giving up" when it's projected by others that way.

SciFi Rabbi said...

First to say that I am very happy that you are happy. I was staring to get worried and I am relieved.

Second, as the rabbi who converted you to Judaism the first time round, let me assure you that you are Jewish whatever others might say. And I'm not just talking about your reform conversion (of which I am very proud to have been a part). No one can take away your orthodox conversion either. The worst they can do is refuse to accept it, which is hurtful but does not change who you are.

Third, this doesn't mean you won't eventually return to orthodox Judaism, but you have to do it on your own terms. I once heard from Rabbi Larry Kushner that all Judaism is traditional but every Jew is Reform. What I understood from this is that all Jews of every movement draw from and are inspired by the same traditions and texts, but that every Jew in this modern world, whether Reform, Conservative or Orthodox, makes their own choices about how to practice and what to believe. Your remarkable journey shows how you have drawn inspiration from ALL of Judaism and not just a narrow stream (whether narrowly Reform or narrowly Orthodox). As your blog title suggests you are under construction, and you never claimed otherwise.

Good luck on your continuing journey.

Rabbi Ilan Emanuel

lxr23g56 said...

Tamara told me I should come check this post out and so I’m here.

Not to be a dick here but I saw this impending ortho implosion of yours early on and I tried telling you about it. That being said people need to do what they need to do and (not that you should care) but I’m proud of you for pulling off everything you did, even if in the long run things didn’t pan out for you.

As a side note - I went through my own implosion earlier this year and didn’t see it coming at all. I guess it’s easier to see other peoples (imagined or real) shit than it is to see your own.

At any rate you are a very determined and focused person and I’m sure you will come out of all of this stronger than when you went in.
As for still feeling/being “Jewish” good for you I guess.
Me? Not so much.

I tried returning my conversion certificates but no one would take them from me. So on paper I guess I still am Jew-ish. However, if anyone asks me if still I consider myself Jewish now, I’d say - nope absolutely not and I doubt I ever will again.

Anyhow, I digress.

Best of luck to you!!

The artist formerly known as Avi.

DrinkingTea said...

I wish you the best of luck on your journey and admire the guts it took to post this. One of the things my rabbi said about converting during the Intro class was that you're still going to have problems in life if you convert and those problems will probably be more intense if you are Jewish, since being Jewish can be a complicating factor in almost everything. How's that for a run on sentence? Anyway, I've found that to be true, but I love that complicating factor and wouldn't give it up for anything even if the manifestation of being Jewish may not fit any particular mold.

Anonymous said...

Hey Leah -

I am a direct decendant of the Rashbam and Rashi. More recently, my great-grandfather, grandfather, uncle, and father are all rabbis (some of them pretty famous). I've dated non-Jewish men. Chas v'shalom, I've even slept with some. But no one will question my Jewishness... why question hers? Why think that she is giving up her Judaism because she finds joy and comfort in a man who may not have been born or made the choice to be Jewish. She has been through a challenging time... one that G-d forbid anyone else should have to deal with... on top of the stigma and nastiness from JFBs (Jews From Birth) who may or may not believe she is a Jew (depends on whose palm you grease, sometimes). Let the girl find some joy in her life again.

We are all entitled to our opinions and you certainly can express yours here as she has graciously given you a public forum to do so... but let us all remember that this is a human being and not a rag doll to be kicked around. To tell her she has made a chillchul HaShem is unbelievable... What about the Jews out there protesting other Jews or taking part in anti-semetic rallies? And Chaviva is the chillchul HaShem?!

It just really grinds my gears when people don't have a respect for other people... and when converts are help to an impossible standard. As a JFB you can make mistakes. As a Jews by Choice you are cut out as soon as one is perceived...

I will end with a note that my father wrote after davening with Matisyahu on the first shabbis after he shaved:

On Shabbos, yesterday, I received my first official fist bump. Every Shabbos I study with Reb Zalman and then we Daven with Habad. Yesterday a tall slight man, shy and quiet came in to study and daven with us. I was told that he is Matisyahu, the Reggae/Hip hop sensation. There was no fanfare, no gawking on our part, and no ego on his. It was just Jews Jewing together. At the end, I introduced myself to him mentioning , my daughter Talia, who has 'supped' with him. He smiled acknowledged her in his quiet, shy way. I wished him Good Shabbos and much success on his spirit quest. He gave me a deep look then held up his fist to me. At first I had no idea what was happening. Then I got it and gently put my fist against his and we went our separate ways. We had studied together, we had davened together and he introduced me to 'the Shabbos fist bump'. May his search be gentle and may he find what he needs. To him and all those who davened i wish much joy and a good journey into the spirit."

Viv... I wish you much luck on your spirit quest. I support you because you are an amazing woman and a good friend. It's just bonus that you are an awesome Jew.

{ T G L } said...

Dear Chavi,

Yishar kochech for taking the jump to talk about your feelings and your journey here. And... welcome to Judaism :) Where you will find your Jewish identity and path challenged and redefined, falling in and out and back in love with Torah. Where there is space for ambivalence, for anger, for elation and for commitment. Where you can test the Covenant because you know that it will be there and Hashem will be there. All of this is part of the Jewish experience and you are growing and testing your boundaries and it is up to no-one to tell you where you're at, where you should be and how you're going to get there. Breathe in the moment that you face right now, be happy and thank God for that happiness. And be excited by the incredible journey that you are on, wherever it may lead.

Be a God-wrestler and go forth.

This Good Life

frum single female said...

everyone goes through phases in their judaism. for a convert it can be more precarious because judaism is something they choose as opposed to something they were born into.
perhaps you are feeling more connected to taylor because he is not jewish and you did not grow up jewish.
i will tell you a secret though , even if you were born jewish you may always feel like your are trying to fit in and find your place.
i think that because you write a blog with your picture on it it makes the question of full disclosure more relevant than those of us who do not blog with our real names and pictures attached to our blogs.
i applaud you for your honesty and this may help others. i do not think that this hurts other converts or my feelings of a convert's sincerity about judaism. you have had a hard year. it just sounds like you are trying to find your way. who knows, maybe taylor will end up wanting to be jewish too.
if the way you were being jewish wasnt working for you i think that it is good you are trying to find a way that you are comfortable being jewish. best of luck to you. i look forward to reading more of your journey.

Neil Harris said...

Were this FB, I would so "like" TGL's comment.

Lily said...

Leah -- "If I am disappointed it is not in your choice, but what this choice will ultimately mean to your future. It's out of love. Not judging." That's exactly what I was trying to say.

Taliashewrote -- Actually, by having sex with a non Jewish man, you are no longer eligible to marry a kohen. There are bits of Judaism that do actually seriously effect born Jewish people. I am also born Jewish but had to fight for my Jewish status. Converts aren't the only ones who have to "prove" their status at certain points.

I am never trying to claim Chavi as not Jewish, god forbid! I just don't personally understand how dating a non Jew can fit into the context of Orthodox Judaism. I don't think Leah was trying to actually question her status, either, though I cannot speak for Leah of course.

Erika said...

Chavi, you are one superbly cool chick. You are also incredibly brave and honest - I don't know how you keep such a public life like this! I bow to your bravery!

Life is a long, long path. Trees will fall in your way, it will get foggy, and wild animals will run across your path. The path is constantly shifting; only the most adaptable will be truly happy (I think). Be well! xooxox

SciFi Rabbi said...

BTW - The header on Chaviva's blog says: "The purpose of this blog is to share my story, my struggles, my ups and my downs, and to connect with others about anything and everything Jewish and social media."

It does NOT say that she is a poster child for orthdox conversion or that her life is subject to critique from those who project that upon her. This blog is the record of a journey that is far from over and not a theological manifesto.

Angi said...

You are awesome, i wish you continued happiness and success on your journey ! I totally love your attitude of let the haters hate right now because thats what they will do. dont let those people make you feel bad for being happy you have every right to be you are you and hashem knows that. no need to fit in a neat little box life is bigger then a box love your undercontruction-ness, i know i do !!!

Shira said...

Leah Sarah wrote: I just don't personally understand how dating a non Jew can fit into the context of Orthodox Judaism.

You are right. And you are soooo wrong. Orthodox Jews, of all sorts, do many things that don't 'fit into the context of Orthodox Judaism". They download tv shows, movies, music, from the internet illegally. They sneak away to have cheeseburgers. They molest school children. They murder and steal. Anything from mild sins to major sins, 'Orthodox Jews' do. Who are you to know which mitzvah rules someone out of Judaism? Who are you to know how far a convert can push their own boundaries while exploring the new 'box' they've entered into? Many Jews from Birth have inter-dated... some of them marry out, some of them continue to date, some of their partners convert and then marry them, etc... Its not any different from any other thing religious Jews are not supposed to do. We do what we need to in order to maintain our integrity and mental health - in order to return to Judaism with a new understanding of it and of ourselves.

Batya said...

Chavi, you do sound like a "typical Jew" always weighing what you are and where you're going. We don't stop until our last breath.

Anonymous said...

MAZEL TOV and much joy and happiness in your new love!

Coming from way outside (not Jewish) and looking into the conversations in regards to this post I have to say that it's such a shame that people have to be so judgemental. Never would a person of my faith be questioned on how faithful they are if they happened to be in a relationship outside of the religion. Just isn't important.

I hope Taylor continues to bring you happiness.

Anonymous said...

People are not perfect. But to compare Jews who do horrible things like molest children is inappropriate and doesn't make the argument. Like, well, it's not as bad as this, that, or the other. No words for the woman from such a privileged lineage almost bragging about prohibited relationships. Again, not telling anyone what to do, but it seems odd to claim an attachment to orthodoxy when the behavior doesn't match. That goes for all things prohibited. The Internet has been accepted for some time and kiruv organizations use it to help people find their way. It's the modern telephone. Anyone can say, "I accept all your decisions, rock on, more power to you." but it takes more strength to disagree when you do and voice it. I am not questioning her Jewishness at all. But for someone who has been through a lot in the last year, I am concerned how she may feel if she changes her mind again. My worries for converts in general remain the same. It's a tough parsha. If a person goes to the great trouble to convert and less than two years later is dating out, what was the point of an ORTHODOX conversion? People do so in order to be accepted by this faction of Judaism. You all say it isn't important, love who you will love, do what feels good. Judaism has rules. The orthodox stand on interdating is that we don't do it. I don't care about all the stories about who did what. That is the position.

Unknown said...

Hi, Chaviva,

I've been visiting your blog regularly for the past few months (after just stumbling across it one day.) I don't think I've ever commented, but I feel compelled to do so now since I've been reading it for so long...

I'm so happy that you're happy. I'm not Jewish, but I do plan on converting one day (once I graduate from my Catholic high school). I probably won't convert Orthodox, but your journey has been fascinating and enlightening and awesome all the same. Listen, you've been through a difficult time lately and you shouldn't make yourself miserable. I, along with tons of people who read this blog, am proud of all that you've accomplished. We're not here to judge. As your blog heading says, you're still a work in progress, and judging by how fantastic you are already, we can't wait to see the results. (And I'm not sure exactly how old you are, but bear in mind that tons of people are still trying to "find themselves" well into their fifties and sixties.) It's nice to see that you've taken such a positive attitude toward confronting this quarter-life crisis/challenge/opportunity. B'hatzlacha!

--(another) Caroline, who shares a middle name with your new guy friend!

Tamara said...

Leah, I think the comment about internet was not that Orthodox use them but that they watch things that they, perhaps, shouldn't be watching - such as downloading movies illegally. Perhaps you feel your criticisms are filled with good intent but are they good intentions to make YOU feel like you're doing your part to "save" Chavi or is it because, as you so put it, are so terribly concerned with how she will feel in the future? FYI, it's her future to live. Her mistakes to make. Her accomplishments to relish. It's her life. This is her blog to share. Yes, you can also chime in but I just don't understand why you are so concerned. I get it if you're disappointed in the larger picture of klal Israel; however, she's not doing anything that I haven't seen many many Jews do themselves. Yes, I get that gers are held to a "higher standard" (like Hebrew National hot dogs :) ) but that's not really fair since Judaism is a path - to be cliche - a journey and not a final destination.

Anonymous said...


Sorry you are getting the haters.
As a soon to be Dayan let me start by saying two things:
1) No one can take your conversion away. No matter what they say. They may not agree with all of your choices, but the worst they can really say is that you are a jew in violation of certain mitzvot.

2) Your actions should have no impact upon other converts or potential converts. If they do, it speaks far more to the unsuitability of those dayanim then it does of anything that you do.

I can't say that I think you are necessarily making the best choices, but I understand. Just want to say, no matter you are always welcome at our home.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

A Comment from DP sent via email and asked to post:

Chaviva –

First, I loved reading this blog post. It was open and honest and heart-wrenching and unapologetic. And you deserve to be happy however way you choose to find that happiness. The saying goes: 2 Jews, 3 shuls. So it’s no surprise that with your Jewish neshama and study/training, that you find your life split.

Re: your big reveal and this “potentially life-altering post.” Post or no post, your life is altered. Period. You chose to share – and we’re all nosy enough to want to know what the big reveal is – and no doubt will want to know more as time passes. Your honesty is admirable. And I give you a lot of credit for this great “coming out” – but don’t you kind of want to slip away into obscurity, and just find your own path without having to be in the public eye? I’m not suggesting you hide – I am suggesting that you have every right to live the life of a private citizen if that’s what you choose to do. You of course can be as public as you want about this – but don’t rule out taking a blogging hiatus if that feels right to you. You own the blog – the blog doesn’t own you.

As for fitting into a box – some people are lucky enough to find the perfect fit, others lives are more akin to what Rabbi David Weiss Halivni describes when he said “It is my personal tragedy that the people I daven [pray] with, I cannot talk to, and the people I talk to, I cannot daven with. ” He ended that quote one way. You may choose to end it another way. Does my life fit into a box? An egg carton has less compartments than does my life – but, with intentionality, I’m not in the public eye, and I don’t have to bear the world’s scrutiny.

People might call what you’re going through the swing of a pendulum, or a rebound, or Newton’s law of motion, or some other metaphor. But this is your life and your journey, and you deserve to choose whatever path you want. Oh and for the record, you are Jewish. Period. No one has the authority to undo that, certainly, no one reader on this blog. And anyone who says otherwise should go back to the basics and read the 37 or so times we are mandated “lo tonu et ha-ger.”

Love your Jewishness and remember: there is no hypocrisy in Judaism. You can keep Shabbat, but if you choose to eat something that isn’t kosher certified, it doesn’t take away from your Shabbat observance. You can believe in Maimonides 13 articles of faith – and yes, you can still be in a relationship with a non-Jew (though I’m betting Maimonides would not have approved J). And you can decide that this is the path you’re traveling today – but tomorrow you can change your mind, retrace your steps, and find another road that is more or less traveled. But again, it’s your journey – and as you can see, you have a large audience supporting you and hoping you find success and happiness in whatever it is you choose to do next. (And not to be apologetic for the nay-sayers – but they are hoping that a failure for you on this journey will yield a return to “fit-in-the-box-Orthodox-Judaism.”)

One other thought – one of the commentators questioned whether you are consulting a rabbi. I’m not preaching to you, but I am suggesting that there is merit to the passage in Pirkei Avot that says “Aseh lecha rav u’kne lecha chaver.” It’s clear that you are talking to a therapist – but as “a perpetually underconstruction neshama” don’t rule out consulting with a rabbi.

Sending you lots of love. Keep the faith. I mean that :-).

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

FYI, @Leah I converted for me -- I didn't convert for a husband or for marriage. I converted because my neshama believes with perfect faith in Torah m'Sinai and the mitzvot and HaShem and all that comes along with being a Jew. Hashkafically, that's where I was. Now? I'm still believe, I am a Jew, I'm just in transition, reflecting, reassessing -- I don't understand why that's so hard for you to grasp.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@TikkunGer I'm sorry to hear about your implosion, but I don't recall you doing an "I told you so" so much as telling me that Orthodoxy was wrong.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

@Skylar As I said before, and I hate repeating myself: I am not naive. I'm also not one to dwell on the negative, unlike some people who fill the conversion world with fear and nonsense and negativity. The focus on the damage that my choices will make upon others is something I've considered, and, as I said a million times in other comments, something that weighed heavily on my conscious before posting this.

I just don't understand. I'm dating a non-Jew. How is this cause for the end of the world and the end of every last convert's chance to be a convert? I simply don't understand why this is a slippery slope and how I'm ruining countless lives. Should a single person have that kind of clout or responsibility?

I'm sorry you don't agree with my choices, and I'm even more sorry that you feel the need to make me out to be a life-ending bad guy. Please, feel free to start a banded group against me for ruining the lives of thousands of converts. If you all are that paranoid, then perhaps you should consider what you're doing and why. Paranoia is no way to live. I've never lived with that paranoia, and I refuse to. Perhaps you should consider that, too.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

It is one thing to be a realist and another to be a pessimist. If you want to fall into line as a pessimistic convert who always sees the danger of losing her status, then you will never be happy and you will always be looking over your shoulder. It's not a healthy way to live, for anyone.

To anyone I hurt with this post, I do apologize. But this blog isn't a journal, and I didn't put myself in the public eye. This blog existed for nearly three years before anyone paid it any attention, and I didn't ask for that attention -- it happened. I started this blog as a chronicle of my journey into and through Judaism. I wasn't trying to be famous or a poster child or anything. I've accepted negativity on this blog since it became well-read, and in the beginning it was a lot of anger from liberal Jews about my becoming Orthodox and now I'm getting anger from Orthodox Jews who think that I've gone off the deep end and am not going to be Jewish anymore. It's all quite ridiculous.

Benji Lovitt said...

Do what makes you happy. You only get to live once. Nobody except you knows what it's like to be you.

Your fan club in Jerusalem

Phillip Blanchard said...

Writing a blog about religious conversion and conviction is about as alien to me as, say, writing about politics. I have no opinion on any of this, since I am virtually ignorant of the subject. However, anyone who suggests that you shouldn't do what you damn well please, and should have to defend your spiritual beliefs, will have to answer to me. I don't like bullies.

Anonymous said...

Chaviva, you are fantastic. I am incredibly happy for you. No matter what anybody says, you are a Jew and you will remain a Jew. And we are incredibly happy to have you. I don't quite understand why/how this would make potential converts so nervous, this has nothing to do with them. This is about you, which is the best part. You need to do what makes YOU happy. Isn't that what HaShem wants for us? He knows your path -- if this is not what He would want for you, it wouldn't be happening. I hope your new beau is making you as happy as can be- you deserve it. So what if he isn't Jewish? Yes, it's often an expectation or a "norm" to only date a Jew, but if it's bringing you back to yourself, hesitate not. I'm glad he respects your beliefs. He sounds great for you! As far as the Orthodox box goes, it is an incredibly tight and often uncomfortable box to attempt to fit into. It seems like everyone else does it so easily and seamlessly, but I believe that there is more "non-fitting" than one would think. Major (and I mean major) props to you for being brave and smart enough to realize that the box wasn't working for you. So many people hide and pretend that they "fit" because they're scared-so you, Chaviva, are an inspiration. No matter if you keep pursuing Orthodoxy or you take up Kabbala, you are still a Jew and there is nothing that anyone can do about that. If people don't like the fact that YOU bravely shared YOUR life updates on YOUR blog (emphasis on how this has nothing whatsoever to do with them), then they can, pardon my french, kindly f*ck off :) I apologize for the born-Jews who get on huge power trips over converts. It isn't fair to anyone. As for the converts who are having a field day over YOUR blog post, they clearly have some conversion insecurities that they're trying to push on somebody. You're an inspiration for following your own path and perhaps creating your own "box". I wish you the best of luck and I am looking forward to staying updated on your journey.

Clark Kent said...


I'm sorry, I really do still want to call you by the name of which I knew you from High School. That note a side, Chavi, you are doing an awesome thing here. I know what's it's like to try and find where you really feel like you belong spiritually and your way of life. I don't know much about Judaism and I wouldn't mind learning more about it from someone who actually practices it or did practice it at one point but, I know with myself it was hard for me to look inside myself for what I believed and what felt right for me with in my own Religion and me as a person. I found that balance and even though it doesn't fit with everyone else, I'm happy and I'm content and at peace with myself. The people who said they were disappointed in me or I was letting them down, really don't have any idea and frankly I pity them for not being able to understand and just accept me for me. Keep your chin up, don't apologize for being true to yourself, stay loving and compassionate.

Anonymous said...

I can't see why anyone could be hurt by your post. Surprised, disappointed maybe, but hurt?
I am sorry you had to go through so much in so little time and I am sorry about the rumors. Those spreading them should also worry about their own Judaism before preaching to you.
I sincerely hope you find a place where you are comfortable with your feelings and choices. Have you found a new shul?
Yours has never been an easy path and I wish you the best.

Anonymous said...

Let's honestly lay some things to rest. As far as the revoking of conversions goes, even the 2006 case, that charge was lead by one man with an agenda. That man also turned out to be a pimp and while the Rabbanim and Gedolim who he was able to convince to come to his side were busy wiping the egg off their face for backing a pimp, his agenda died the death it needed to.

Yes the Rabbinate does still nullify the occasional conversion. What is required for that? Currenlty that the person never kept a single Shabbat. They would like it to be their first two, but too many level headed voices are saying that gerim don't necessarily know how to keep their first one or two. So yeah, if a person stood in front of B"D and lied about having any intention to actually be Orthodox, than based on that lie, they have nullified conversions.

As far as Chavi is concerned that is not the case. I think I can claim something that a great many people here cannot, which is to know Chavi in the flesh, and to have had her at my Shabbat table. From our own very frank conversations, I would be more than willing to stake my reputation on her having been comittedly and fully Orthodox, and I am sure there are other qualified eidim that would do the same, if anyone was ever really vindictive enough to try to drag her before a B"D to sort out her sincerity.

There's a lot more that I could say. A lot more. But I don't want to take over someone else's post. Let me just say this, born Jew or converted Jew, even the most righteous don't always live to the ideals that we would prefer. Between the Tanakh and the Gemarra that should be plenty evident. So even if you are angry(as if anyone but HaShem actually has that prerogative) with Chavi for whatever wrongs she is(or you percieve) that she is doing, do you actually think venting on her will do any good? My multitude of experience says not.

Maya Bery said...

Dear Chaviva,

There are so many things to say, but the most important thing is this, I think: if you are happy, that is what counts. Presumably, our happiness is one of the things God wants for us, and if your happiness happens to come in the form of a non-Jewish boy (admittedly, more of an issue for you with the Orthodox thing than for me as a to-be-Reform Jew), then that's what counts. You are a Jew, through and through. No matter what anyone wants to email, tweet, say to your face, or hide behind anonymous posts, you are a Jew. The moment you stepped out of the mikveh, you were a Jew. This is your path, and I deeply, profoundly admire your willingness to be open and honest about this stuff. Too many other people would have kept quiet and kept their head down, hoping to God that this news didn't make it into the public sphere. Why? Out of fear. Your own post hints at that, and I think that's deplorable and wrong. I might not be converting Orthodox, but it outrages me that so many converts and converts-to-be, who in addition to facing immense challenges and obstacles to becoming an Orthodox Jew, then have to live with constant scrutiny and a demand to conform and not speak up when things are wrong. It's one of the many reasons I could never choose an Orthodox derech, but you have, and you've spoken up about other issues before, and I see this as much the same. This is your life. You are a Jew, and this is your life, and the fact that you are dating a non-Jew doesn't make you any less Jewish. It does however, make you incredibly gutsy and courageous, and for that, you have even more of my admiration than you did before.


Agoura Hillbilly said...

Hi Chaviva-

Forgive me if this is too long...

I just came across your blog- love it! I am a baal teshuva of over 20 years, and I still struggle with my faith, struggle to understand the messages that Hashem is trying to send me, struggle with feelings of anger, confusion, and doubt. Just like you, no doubt, are struggling to find your place. It's not easy.

I'm always fascinated by people who become interested in Judaism and convert, primarily because we are not, generally, a "loved people." A relative of mine is a Jew who was born in a non-Jewish body. As a child growing up in the Christian Bible Belt, she often had dreams about soldiers in black uniform breaking into her home. Later, she realized that she was dreaming about Nazis, despite the fact that she had never even seen a Jew, and years before she ever even learned about the Holocaust.

Hashem loves His children equally, and He understands our plights. He constantly sends us trials and tribulations so that we open our eyes and come back to Him. (Indeed, sometimes I wished He loved me less!) Your job is only to keep communication open between you and G-d. There is really nothing else that He requires. I have found inspiration from reading the Garden of Emunah. (Breslov literature)

May you find the inspiration you need to find your Jewish identity.


SciFi Rabbi said...

Reading these comments it seems that there is a lot of fear about the precariousness of orthodox conversion and that somehow Chaviva's decisions will adversly effect both past and future conversions. If this is a legit fear why is everyone angry with Chaviva and not with the the rabbinate. It seems to me that a rabbinate that would questions thousands of conversions because of one person's actions has serious problems and that the fault does not lie with Chaviva but with them.

It is very telling I think that most of the people who are critiqing Chaviva are arguing about the consequences they fear and not about the wonders of Orthodox Judaism (of which there are many). They paint a very ugly picture of Orthodox Judaism.

It also appears that the distinction between those in the orthodox community who suport Chaviva and those who are ragging on her is "fear." When I decided to become I Reform rabbi I had been studying with Aish and Ohr Sameach. When I told them my decision to become a reform rabbi they had very different reactions. The Aish rabbi basically said I was going to hell and bringing the Jewish people down with me. The Ohr Sameach rabbi, a real mench by the name of Rabbi Jonathan Dove, was very gracious and told me that he hoped I challenged the reform rabbis as much as I had challenged them and to remind them that reform goes both ways. The difference I realized later was in their conceptions of what it meant to be orthodox. The Aish rabbi was orthodox out of fear of what it would mean to be otherwise and fearful of the consequences of not doing everything "right." Rabbi Dove orthodox out of love, strong enough in his own convictions to not be threatened my my decisions. Those who are claiming Chaviva is ruining their lives are fearful of the rabbinate and perhaps their own lapsing and are blaming it on Chaviva.

Karen Zampa Katz said...

These comments are something else...supportive...non supportive and everything in between!
I am a convert...I chose a "conservative" path...because of egalitarian issues....I am observant, I am kosher, I am what some would call a conservadox...yet some would say I am not Jewish...I assure you you my conversion path was robust, and thorough...classes,meetings, Hebrew, tests, living Jewish,a rigorous and intense biet din , milkva etc.. NO human can say if I am Jewish enough....we all must follow our own paths, we all must search and question and find our own way...look to our own patriarchs and matriarchs they have unique and personal paths.... I can't judge anyone, but if I am judged, I will fight back!......look at your own lives...this blog, this lovely person is sharing her path and is her life her path....not yours...not the convert world...we are all unique and individual and need to look at our our relationship with our spirituality!

busyme said...

I've read your blog before, but this is probably my first time posting. So please bear with me... #1 You are not alone in this decision -- I converted ortho (not for any man thank you very much) and found myself eating vegan/vegetarian out while keeping kosher and shabbat for a while when I was renegotiating my direction in life. I was still "involved" still "committed" to Judaism, but also trying to define my own sense of "normal". I think that any person who can take a look inside themselves and want something better for themselves will go through this process of seeking what is the "normal" / happy status-quo for them. #2 I feel that gerim (converts) are often denied this by other frum Jews...on what basis I do not know. However, I will say that one FFB friend said I come across more like an FFB than a convert because I am willing to re-evaluate where I stand with things and make changes based on what I've learned and what I feel comfortable with rather than staying in the strict mold of the orthodoxy of my conversion -- even if that means going with a more lenient opinion on a halachah (albeit, in my case, still modern orthodox). She think I am more likely to stay frum because of this. I think so too. So, I am here to sound like you are doing alright, like you haven't lost touch with the people that care about you, and you are happy (I hope). Just keep in mind you may be re-evaluating again soon :) Wishing the best of luck, inspiration, success and happiness.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
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Philo said...

"Actually, by having sex with a non Jewish man, you are no longer eligible to marry a kohen"

1) She's already a divorcee, so that's a moot point

2) That's a rather rude assumption. All Chavi wrote is that she's "dating" Taylor. The question of sexual activity is none of our business.

le7 said...

When you can feel your yezter hora those are the moments that you know you are Jewish and you know you have a Jewish soul. Feeling all spiritually connected and inspired doesn't mean jack diddly squat. You're feeling yourself not your soul. Precisely when things are hard and awful and you're forced to make the decision between what makes you feel good, feel right and what you're supposed to do - those are the moments that really let us know "we are Jewish." Judaism is tough. It is insanely tough. Especially when you're angry at G-d and you're upset with the cards you have been dealt...

This is just my perspective based off of stuff I have gone through and I don't even know if it at all applies to you. But sometimes I've been so angry about life - I just want to stop keeping kosher. Because we only keep kosher for G-d. We don't derive any discernible benefit. In fact it is a real pain in the neck. (This is just an example from my personal experiences). So... I dunno.

The fact that you even have (What I would call) these trials shows you are Jewish. And when we can keep that in mind it almost makes it a bit more bearable.

Rebecca Einstein Schorr said...

Dearest Chavi,

There is nothing more Jewish than the struggle. After all, Yisrael, the name given/earned by Jacob, is meant to remind us that we all struggle with God at some point.

That you have chosen to share your struggle is your business. Your choice. For some, it screams heresy. For others, and this is important, it will be a validation of their own struggles. A voice that will reassure them that a perfect faith is not one that is void of uncertainty but is one that can withstand the ebbs and flows of life.

As always, thank you for sharing, in a thoughtful fashion, your personal journey. In its imperfect perfection.

Frume Sarah

le7 said...

Also Philo I happened to notice that that comment was directed at a different commenter who was boasting about such interactions.

Anonymous said...

@Skylar I will preface this by saying I have deep respect for all streams of Judaism, feel most comfortable when my personal practice, in terms of ritual and observance, is as traditional as possible, and owe a great debt to several Orthodox authors, bloggers, and websites who together have served as great Jewish tutors for my Reform Jewish journey. That said...

Skylar, there is one thing I wish you would keep in mind when you talk so stridently about Jewish topics as if you are an incontrovertible wellspring of knowledge about all correct ways to be Jewish--all of those ways according to you being Orthodox--and about all streams of Judaism in general, and this is probably an important point for your readers to keep in mind, too:

You're. Not. Orthodox. Yet.

End of story.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to your blog (and look forward to reading more) but just wanted to say kol hakavod to you for being open and honest with your readers about where you're at and about how your derech is evolving. May you find blessings in this new unfolding of your life.

SciFi Rabbi said...

Responding to Skylar - You said:As for the Rabbinate, SciFi Rabbi, we are working to change that issue. It's slow-going, and they're in a position of entrenched power. But regardless, you don't give ammo to your enemies to shoot you. This situation is a textbook example of the "justifications" used by those who hurt converts. "So-and-so got divorced and immediately started dating a non-Jew. How do I know you won't do that too? (Completely disregarding the thousands upon thousands of converts who do not do that.)" As I said before, life ain't fair, but we have to deal with the reality we are given.

I think you are proving my point! When I was at school, I was bullied. I remember spending a lot of time concerned with making sure I didn't do anything that would call the bullies' attention to me. Your description of the rabbinate essentially sounds the same. You are describing them as bullies! In fact, in saying that you don't give ammo to your enemies, you are saying that they are enemies!

And again, nothing you are saying suggests anything about why Orthdox Judaism is great and shoud be followed for its own sake. That is a rather sad reflection of the way some aspects of the orthodox rabbinate are causing you to think about your Judaism and the reasons you should stay within the fold.

Adina Lav said...

I'm envious. Good luck ;)

Anonymous said...

To Leah Sarah -

Yes, you are right. And actually, I knew that going into those relationships in college. That is something that I was aware of when I made the decision to sleep with my non-Jewish boyfriends.

I believe in awareness and educated decisions. When I chose (and continue to choose) to keep different aspects of halacha, I learned them with my father and with some of the foremost experts on halacha (I am fortunate to have relationships with Talmidei Chachamim in my life) before I take them on. I do not believe in boxes... I don't like people saying that well if you believe Torah shel b'peh is divine than you are Orthodox. I don't like the force fitting we do to people to make THEM fit OUR ideas of who THEY should be. That is why my father calls himself post-denominational and Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi says he's neo-hassidic.

Judaism is a living and breathing entity. That is the only way we have survived so long. My father says we zig and zag... I say we expand and contract as necessary. HaShem gives us all a purpose. Chaviva has one and so does everyone who comments here.

I also live by many personally imposed rule but one rule has presented itself more and more in my life lately. Judge not lest ye be judged. When you point at someone realize, that there are three fingers pointing back at you. When you start criticizing others, you open yourself up to criticism. Yes there are people that i don't agree with but when it comes to religion, as long as others are not breaking the law or physically harming others... we all get to worship in our own fashion. Once you start telling others they aren't Jewish enough, then you are vulnerable to others for them to say the same. There will always be someone more pious than you.

And le7 - I wasn't boasting, I was making a point.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
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Anonymous said...

@tikkunger Well I guess now we know why the website died.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leah in Chicago said...

Skylar - I'm probably the Leah you confused with Chicago Carless - since I tweet a lot about not having a car and I'm also in Chicago (and the same rabbi supervised our conversions).

But it wasn't me that made that comment to you.

Anonymous said...

@Skylar No, by the letter of the law--the same body of law which you love to keep espousing, you are not Orthodox yet. To be an Orthodox Jew you must be a Jew. And as you noted you are not a halachic Jew yet in the eyes of Orthodoxy. Which, of course, also means you are not a Jew yet in the eyes of Orthodoxy. You will recognize this as the same argument Orthodoxy uses to say that Reform and Conservative converts are not Jewish.

So I do apologize for the error of my previous comment. Actually, by the letter of the law of your chosen stream of Judaism, you are not officially Jewish yet at all. If all goes well at your Beit Din, you may be Jewish next week. For now, your Jewish opinions don't officially count.

Halacha. Funny how it cuts both ways.

CrazyJewishConvert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
le7 said...

Ok sorry, elaborately describing such interactions. My point is you explicitly mentioned that you did certain things with them so it made sense to... assume you did certain things.

Erika Davis said...

Holy Moly this strand of commenting is getting scary and a little hurtful.
Personally, my hat is off to you Chaviva, you have to do what feels right for you. Judaism does come with its restrictions and rules and ways of life but Judaism has never been a static religion and we've never been a stataic people. As Jews by Choice, we're under a larger microscope that unfortunately born Jews are not.

Bottom line is your happiness. I know many Jews, Orthodox and Conservative and Reform who live lies for various reasons. To keep up appearances, because they're closeted, because their hearts have changed. I think it would be far worse to pretend to be devoted and life your life as a lie than it is to find the path of Judaism that best works for you.

Judaism has a set of rules, but they're never black and white.
Good luck, keep your head up, and find happiness.

le7 said...

All I'm saying - that the fact you're going through all of this is undeniable proof that you have a Jewish soul. :-)

Anonymous said...

You really have an overly paranoid view of the Rabbinate and conversions.
As you present it now, you seem to think that Rav Amar is simply sitting in Jerusalem looking for reasons to nullify or disqualify converts.
You ignore the role that Eternal Jewish Family had in fomenting the current conversion crisis, or what its demise means.
Conversely to that you ignore that Rav Amar, nor the next Sephardic Chief Rabbi, do not have the power to counter Rav Ovadia Yosef who as repeatedly denounced the nullification of conversions. He personally reaffirmed all of the conversion that were called into question over the R' Drukhman affair as well as those called into question from the Army conversion affair. There are at least 7 more years of the Sehpardic Chief Rabbi being the one in charge of conversions so that isn't going to change anytime soon.
As far a getting US conversions recognized, I know and understand that there has been some contention. So let me give you the Israeli side of it. The US is the only nation without a central Rabbinic authority. There is no chief rabbi of the US(a peculiarity). Thus as it stands every Orthodox synagogue in the US has the ability to be its own independent entity with no universal standards for things like Geirut. Add to that that some unsavory types have taken broad advantage of this and essentially performed quicky conversions for money in which practicing Christians, Hindus and various other oddities have been made "Jewish" without ever even ascribing to the fundamentals of Jewish faith. The Israeli solution to that, since you honestly can't expect Rav Amar or anyone in the Rabbinate to be on a first name intimate basis with every US Rabbi, was to, in the end, take the RCA as the closest thing that there is in the US to an umbrella organization for Orthodoxy. While Rabbis who do not wish to be a part of the RCA but wish to have their conversions recognized(if they do not already have Israeli Semikha) can, at their own discretion, sit exams with the Rabbinate and thus have their conversions recognized.
Admittedly that system is not perfect. It would be much more convenient if the various Orthodox sects in the US could simply put their varied and petty differences aside and come to some sort of agreement on an overarching umbrella organization. But they either can't or won't.
So my request from you is to not buy into the anti-Rabbinate propaganda, nor the various smoke and mirror shows that so many people want to put on for their various parochial political benefit. Chavi is an individual, no individual, no matter how public, is going to be able to do what you claim. Gerim are not expected to be perfect, they are simply expected to be sincere.

Anonymous said...

The haters are acting like Chavi completely fell off the wagon or something. She said two things:
1) She is dating a non-Jewish guy. Great, lot's of B"Y girls in NYC and Lakewood do that too. I can point you to there blogs if you want printed proof. While obviously not a behavior that is encouraged within Orthodoxy, it is not like denying one of the essential tenets of faith, or even crossing the bounds of the three major areas of Jewish law.
2) She said that she eats out at unsupervised vegan restaurants and coffee shops. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef(I don't believe there is anyone who is going to claim that he isn't Orthodox) did the same when he was the Av Beit Din of Cairo, and has been writing Teshuvot on what is and isn't acceptable in those circumstances ever since. So again while lenient, Chavi still hasn't stepped off the "Orthodox" derekh.
I'm going to close with this. Rav Shalom M. Hedaya ZTz"L(Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat HaMekubalim Beit El) used to say, "When you point a finger at someone else there are three pointing back at you, because most often those issues you want to attack in other people are the issues you are trying to ignore and overlook in your own life." So here is my next plea for yachdut and just letting Chavi be Chavi.

le7 said...

I don't know if that is directed at me at all - but I never said she "stepped off the Orthodox path."

SciFi Rabbi said...

To Skylar: Mazal tov on passing the Beit Din. Good luck with the Mikvah. Hopefully you will be happy and fulfilled by your decision.

KernalM said...

So long time reader first time commenter. This may seem out of place in the midst of all this discussion of Orthodoxy and such, but I just wanted to give my two cents, even if they be rather simple. I've been dating my (Jewish) boyfriend for over two years despite not being Jewish myself (I actually came across your blog when I was considering conversion awhile back). Although I might be coming as this from a very different viewpoint (not being myself Jewish, nor really knowing anything about Orthodox or Conservative Judaism) and perhaps this might be unhelpful, but personally I believe that interfaith relationships, while sometimes complicated, can work and be worthwhile.

Jack Steiner said...


Do what you need to do. Ultimately your relationship with Hashem is yours and yours alone.

SciFi Rabbi said...

BTW - Thank you to Mekubal for bringing a thoughtful and knowledgeable orthodox perspective to the discussion. I truly hope you are right about the nature of the Israeli orthodox rabbinate. If Skylar and others are right then the Jewish people is in big trouble but it will be because of the narrowness of certain rabbis and not because of the actions of one young woman in Denver.

redsneakz said...


I'm here to compliment you for writing about your decision so cogently yet emotionally, forcefully yet without egoism.

As a born Yid, I cannot know the emotional content of what you're going through, except through the eyes of my wife; so, I cannot speak to your struggles as a Jew by choice. I do know what you're going through as someone who has tried (maybe not as valiantly as you've done) to mould his life to fit into an Orthodox community, but who can't or won't fit in.

All I can say is that I hope that you keep struggling with your Judaism. It's a beautiful religion and way of life and family. Don't let anyone tell you you're not Jewish, or that you're not "good enough" anymore. Because, you are.

Anonymous said...

I posted this on Facebook but I may as well post here for good measure...

I find it hard to believe that rabbis of any movement would have nothing better to do than scan people's blogs and oust the seeming transgressions, least of all with someone who is no longer in their community. I understand the crowd mentality of the Orthodox ("What one Jew does affects the lot") and why people would be agitated, but there's no reason to accept any sort of condemnation because of it. What one Jew does may affect the lot, but that's only because the lot will take an incorrect mindset. It's more of a cult mindset than a reasonable, compassionate mindset. God made us all humans before He made us Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, or anything else, and I like to think that He fully understands the implications of making us all different and how we'll interact with one another. I think God would put a bit less emphasis on "different" than we do. I understand not wanting to assimilate - we just had Chanukah and that's a central focus - but I think there's a line there that needs to be set on an individual basis. Even though it may be outlined halachically, everyone can only take so much of the words that someone else wrote to apply to their own life. At some point they need to write their own words and live by them. An intelligent and compassionate rabbi will know this.

Anonymous said...


Several people have emailed me that my absence on this thread is obvious. They have also asked me what I think. I am not going to discuss this behind your back – but here you have given me a forum to give you my .02 cents.

As I have told you privately by email, my love for you is unconditional. As your Yiddishe Mama nothing you can do can change that.

My heart is heavy with the trials and tribulations that you have suffered through this past year.

Your anger, grief and disappointment come through so strongly in this post. It takes so much time to deal with it all emotionally.

You know how I feel - I want you to be happy. But I also want you to think not just about the NOW but the future too.

Take time for yourself, hun. I know you need time to figure out where you are as a person, as a woman, and as a Jew. I have been there. It took a long while, but I figured it out. Yes I made mistakes too. Ones that I am not proud of. But I also had so many good people advising me – use your people. Speak to a rabbi, several. I am glad your therapist is helping, but as others have said, unless they understand the Jewish part of the picture, the help will be limited. Lean on me, on your other friends. We are HERE for you.

During your separation and divorce from Tuvia you kept it all off the blog and social media. Everyone who needed to know what was going on knew, and the rest of the people who are here supported you just because they care. Being a public figure doesn't mean sharing everything. As you well know there is a lot, a whole HECK of a lot, that I do not share, and believe me it would make better reading on my blog. You choose what and how to share. Sometimes sharing one's truth is too much - and knowing where to draw that line is hard.

People look up to you and respect you for the person that you are and the honest way in which you share your life with us here on your blog. Certain things need to be kept private - much like the reasons for tzniut and hair covering - in order for them to mean more.

I love you and I do not judge you. I wish you strength to make the right choices in life, and bless you that you make them with a full heart and rational mind. I pray the anger and grief ease with time, and that soon you will know who you really are and where you need to be.

With love

Your Yiddishe Mama

Brother Ira said...

I'm not sure I understand the following:

"I still believe firmly in everything that makes Judaism work and functional. Torah m'Sinai."

If you're dating a non-Jew, wouldn't your action show that you don't really hold by the above sentiment? Or is it that you believe it, but not for real-life application?

You also assert:

"But this blog isn't a journal, and I didn't put myself in the public eye."

Posting a public chronicle of your life on the web is at once both a journal and putting yourself in the public eye (regardless of how popular it is).

To be honest, you seem no more or less confused than anyone else. I would, however, suggest that asserting that you know who you are while apparently not knowing, is probably not the best tactic.

Perhaps you'd do better not trying to defend yourself. If you don't like to look backwards, then do what you do and move on. Don't let your past contextualize things.

If, however, you're like most of us, and you do contextualize things based on your past, don't fear admitting it. Admit your choices, mistakes, and confusion, but don't assert that both sides of a contradiction are true.

No one can take away the fact that you are Jewish, but no definition of Orthodoxy meshes with intermarriage, so labeling yourself as one while considering the other isn't really being honest with yourself - or anyone else.

Good luck, and I'm glad you're happy.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

AS someone who teaches and works with converts for an Orthodox Conversion, this is not only saddening but also hurtful for the ones that do want to convert in the future when they see someone do something like this.

Converts have a hard enough time going through the process seeing sometimes what happens in the Orthodox community (no one is perfect that is for sure) but we still have to try and rise to the highest levels we can.

Our decisions not only affect ourselves but it effects others who view you as well.

No situation is ever easy and everyone has their own yetzer hara. Torah is about growth and being close to G-d according to the way He set it out.

It is not for us to fit our lives into Judaism but Judaism is our life so we can't pick and choose how we want to be practicing Jews.

Compartmentalization has no place in Judaism and halacha is the only guiding light that we have.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman

lxr23g56 said...

@Chavi - I don't think I've ever really gone around saying orthodoxy is "wrong" as an absolute. That being said, I do think JBC's have a tendency of going the Orthodox route for (what I believe are) the wrong reasons, which is something I have discussed publicly more than once. Now with regard to our conversations – we have had several (which I recall in detail) regarding what I refer to as the "right-ward JBC slip phenomenon”. Some of these were more general in nature while others were more focused our respective journeys.

At any rate they were not public conversations, so no need to repeat them here.
Besides I suppose it doesn't it doesn't really matter. As I’ve already written – I was/am sorry to hear about your difficulties. However, I have no doubt that you will (/already have) come out stronger than you went in.

@carless – This blog is really not the place to be discussing this, so I’ll keep it brief. Nope, that was not the deciding factor. You should still have my contact info if you ever want to get a hold of me.

GR K said...

you are full of it Chaviva just as it is the law not to run a red light Torah Jewish women of which you opted to be one DONT SLEEP WITH NON JEWS

all the other liberal bs is going to cause serious accidents which YOU Chaviva are doing

I am personally offended by your yes to Torah then a who gives a crap I will follow my desires attitude. YOU can choose who you fall in love with because YOU can choose who not to be with.

In Torah law if you jaywalk and someone sees you, follows you gets run over then you on your bill get done for murder that is Torah law that is how careful Torah Jews have to be with the Torah and the only reason I can say these things is because you by this public blog are acting like a kofer.

According to TORAH LAW

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Neen said...

Can I just say that SciFi Rabbi is awesome. Chavi, I'm so happy that you have so many sane loving mentors in real life. Because all this struggle mandates real conversations, of the variety that are difficult if not impossible to have in a online forum like this. Perhaps over coffee at ye local starbucks...

Anonymous said...

Chaviva, you are very new to our Denver community. With all due respect, you don't know the whole story about our history of restaurants and the Vaad. How could you, just having recently moved here? You are likely repeating what you've heard from others.

In an earlier entry not too long ago you critically discussed conversion in Denver, again, not knowing the whole story. You offered "to devote two to three hours a week to teaching and training converts in the basics of Judaism and conversion; after all, I've been there, I've done that, and I can lay things out from a perspective of the convert and what you need to know before the formal process."

Volunteering to a leadership position in the community teaching prospective Orthodox converts while concurrently dating a non-Jew is not a terribly great example. Though you want to help, do you not see this makes it difficult for you to be taken seriously?

I'm sure you mean well, but please give our community and its institutions a chance before airing its seemingly (to you) dirty laundry to the internet for the whole world to see. This is why there are halachos of shmiras halashon, which can be complicated, and important to first verify with a competent rav.

Anonymous said...


I respect all that you have put out here on the blog. It has taken a lot for you to have a blog in the first place, let alone one which deals with all these sensitive subjects.

Frankly, I think you should let go of the idea that people are expecting you to be a "beacon" for them. Come on! That's unfair to you, and I wouldn't want that kind of pressure. I realize that people need resources to navigate the process of conversion, but to expect you to shoulder that kind of burden is too much.

Now, to weigh in on the other issue: I think anyone who is interdating is playing with fire. It may seem innocent, but there is always the possibility that it could change into something more, and inevitably there is going to be heartache. It's really better not to start. Lest you think I'm preaching, I recognize that only you can make decisions for you. This is just an outside observer talking; you know what that's worth...

At the risk of saying what everyone else has, maybe a time-out is overdue. You have gone through so much since I began reading the blog and it looks like you are still continuing to operate on overload. Maybe dating should be put on the shelf and it's time to consolidate the experiences of becoming religious and moving to a new area--maybe even get out of the limelight so everyone's not looking over your shoulder. I'm pulling for you to succeed, and maybe a little less pressure will get you through this...

Anonymous said...

hadassahsabo/Yiddishe Momma -

You are the best. Period.

Love to you!

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Comments from B.N. via email:

Chaviva, I've seen your write about your spiritual journey online since 2007. A good deal of the time, I did not agree with your perspectives on Judaism, specifically in regards to the conversion process. However looking back at your efforts over the years, I must say, that you are EXTREMELY brave. You have been one of the few voices online that would speak openly and candidly about your relationship with Judaism. Through both joy and wrote and blogged. As someone else who went through an eerily similar path (Reform conversion, Orthodox conversion, now dating a non-Jew), I am grateful. But as Skylar pointed out, I am also very concerned (I myself blog -- but I'm keeping most of the details about my Jewish life below the radar). One thing that the two of us do see eye-to-eye on is that Orthodox Judaism has some serious issues both with how conversions are handled and how converts to Judaism are see. These problems are so clearly wrong and perverted -- I don't even dare to tell most people, hence they think that I am insane for having had voluntarily put myself through it all! But the problems are still there, so like it or not, we have to act accordingly. Now I'll tell anyone who is thinking about an Orthodox conversion to Judaism that they should run away screaming. But ultimately, it is their choice, and they have the right to not have other "converts off the derech" (I don't consider you this...but I guarantee that there are others who do) cast doubt upon them.

{Sigh} But I'm not saying that you shouldn't have wrote this post. But it's good for you, and good for many other individuals...but it's "bad" for other converts to Orthodox Judaism (potential and current). While we both are 'so done' with trying to fit into the mold that Orthodox Judaism wants to make for us, they are still trying desperately to fit in. The more examples that Orthodox rabbeim have of converts not living up to [ridiculous] expectations, the more weapons that they have to use against other people trying to obtain a halachaic conversion.

I mentioned before that I am dating a non-Jew; and I love him dearly. When he met me, the amount of respect and admiration he had for me almost knocked me off my chair. It was like a breath of fresh air after having countless people in the Orthodox community "warn me" that it would be "very difficult" for me to find a husband. After being set up with 5 or 6 Orthodox Jewish men that all had serious psychological, social, and economic shortcomings (so basically, they were the guys that no one else wanted). Does anyone really think that I would not love to have a Jewish husband? That I did not truly desire to build a 100% Jewish home? Well it takes two to tango. I had to stop lying to myself, and say that one day my "open-minded-frum-Jewish-prince" would come along...because my biological clock is ticking. Too bad that many Orthodox Jews really have no clue how to live out the mitzvah of "loving the convert"....because even the ones that opened up their homes and said they admired me, would have NEVER wanted me to marry their single sons. You hear me? Never!

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

And more from B.N. via email:

So I completely feel you Chavi. It was (and still is) very hard for me to have stepped out of the Orthodox community. For me, Orthodox Judaism is true Judaism. Yet the community would never tolerate my relationship, and I'm not going to put them into the difficult position of defending me. So where does that leave me....where do I go? I feel that if these Orthodox communities were truly observant, I am a Jewish woman -- so my children are Jews by default. I am a member of the community just as much as Queen Esther was. There are other frum women doing it (like Juliet Stamperdahl ). But the difference (which I'm not quite sure why there is a difference) is that they are born Jews, and I'm a convert.

So my take on it is this: NO community's, even the Orthodox Jewish community's, membership is worth your happiness, your future family or your self-worth. You've made the right move in my humble opinion. I would love to follow more of your story, but I can understand if you resign to more a private journey this time around.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

I cannot read anymore comments. The ups, the downs, they hurt. I will just reiterate a few things.

1) I posted this publicly because I was tired of hearing the rumors and assumptions that were being made about me second hand. If you do not speak on your own behalf, others will speak about you. I didn't want the rumors and scandal to fly from the voices of the malicious, so I put out my own "press release."

2) I understand my actions have repercussions, that I impact more than I think, but I am not responsible for single-handedly ruining Jews, Orthodox Judaism, conversion to Judaism, or anything else. If you think that I am, you have a warped sense of reality.

Feel free to continue commenting, but I am exhausted and cannot do this anymore.

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

Hugs. It sounds like there is a lot on your shoulders despite this big reveal. It really doesn't matter what anyone thinks except you and I'm not reading the comments because I can only imagine the negativity that might have responded.

But I want to say. There are many very different kinds of Orthodoxy. I was lucky to find both Modern Orthodoxy & Open Orthodoxy and have been very happy there. And it defines some of my place in the world but not all of it. I converted to be Jewish, not a box to be checked off.

With that said, I hope you find your way wherever your journey takes you.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I had to respond to the comment on "having only Orthodox friends"...

Seriously? I don't think that has ever been a requirement of being Orthodox. I don't know about the larger communities, but in a smaller one, like Memphis, that would be suicidal. In the smaller communities, we have no choice but to be united.

Even in our own families, we may have non-Orthodox relatives. We may belong to more than one shul. How can we disown that part of our heritage? In high school I was active in BBYO, and I can assure you that Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform kids mixed together without any thought about it. I realize that this was a long time ago (1973), but is there any sense in alienating each other? We can agree to disagree if we must, but that should be the extent of it.

In this modern world, we have enough "labels" as it is. I never even heard the term "Modern Orthodox" until about 20 years ago. We now have "Traditional
Orthodox," "Yeshivish," "Chassidish," etc. ("You can't tell the players without a scorecard.") But in the end, "Chaverim kol Yisrael," and frankly we need to get to know each other more, not less. I want to be one of those who builds a bridge.

Chaviva, I know that you may not have intended that description of your "journey" as an insult, so please forgive me for spouting off. It just rubbed me the wrong way!!

Anonymous said...


I am trying to read over 100 comments and I know that you have stopped responding to them. Nevertheless, if you return to the comments, I want you to have read this one.

Please forgive me if I have hurt you with my other two comments. I don't intend to hurt anyone, and if I was a bit strong it derives from strong feelings about the subject, nothing more. I also know that this has generated quite a bit of controversy, so nothing more need be said about it.

What I want you to know is that whatever some may think of your revelation, in my eyes every convert I have met in person and on the blogs is every bit a Jew as any other. I want you to know that you are our sister in every sense of the word and will continue to be. If someone "drops" you because of this, it will be their loss. Only you know what you had to go through to get to this point, and you should hold on to it regardless of whatever happens.

As for trying to take on too much too soon...I can relate. I will not give you the details, but in my teenage years I tried to be "super-religious." Of course, that didn't work out. However, with a more mature perspective, I feel much better about my Jewish observance. I think that you may need to take it a little more slowly too (everyone's advice may still be relevant...). I think someday you will find your niche in religious observance. Take your time getting there, and enjoy the ride (I am very happy that you seem to be doing just that).

Aliza "La Jewminicana" Hausman said...

Actually, I do think Chaviva Edwards has a nice ring to it. But then I like juxtaposition.

Anonymous said...

I originally posted the following under wrong post:

Good Luck with your new pathway, wherever it leads you. Happiness is the most important stone to tread on during anyone journey.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say, I am sorry for all the pain and disappointment you've gone through. I've been there myself though our situations are different. I hope you find happiness and peace soon!

While I do wish you would find a Jewish spouse and a comfortable place in Orthodoxy. I know you are in a difficult position. I want things to work out for you!! Realistically, who are the good single convert women suppose to date?? I would like the haters to comment here. No one is helping out converts. We're just suppose to take whatever garbage no born Jewess would want. One can sugar coat it, but that is my experience and those of other converts I know. I purposely moved to NYC (I've lived in 3 other communities as well) where all the singles are, and have had only a handful of dates, much less a serious relationship.

In hindsight, at your age, I wish I had the strength to do what you are doing now. I'm late 30s, and was the good girl (as I was before I was Jewish and during a long drawn out conversion) who followed the rules only to be bitter and alone now. I so looked forward to finding that nice Jewish husband and building a beautiful Jewish home. Gentile men found me attractive but I was never good enough for a Jewish man. I was not picky, just wanted a nice guy around my age who had a job, even if it was stocking shelves. No one cared about setting me up, for years and years I was just expected to do the circus of davening more, giving to charity and fundraising, and learning most nights all in that I might merit that non-existent spouse. Ha, I rarely merited a date! Hashem knows I gave it my all until I simply couldn't anymore. For the record I'm still yeshivish, but cut back learning to once a week and Shabbat and got a life, accepting I will probably not marry. I was doing far more than my FFB friends who were getting the nice dates who they were rejecting for the most trivial of reasons.

For the haters, Inter-dating is not the same as intermarriage. Not all relationships lead to marriage, most don't--though I say that I hope everything works out for you without further pain. Who knows your date might find out he's halachically Jewish or might become interested in Judaism. Why else would he be interested in opening a kosher restaurant if kashrut has no meaning to him?? He might introduce you or put you on the path to meeting your spouse. The hand of Hashem works in mysterious ways!

Why is it OK for born Jews (especially men) to date gentile women and get quicky conversions for them? After all, how did the expression "s----- are for practice," come into common usage if Jewish men behaved properly?? Note: I'm not refering to non-halachic Jews or Jews that can't prove their Jewishness or folks at the tail end of conversion, and men happen to meet such women in normal Jewish life, but gentiles with no connection to Judaism--why the double standard for born Jews that we tacitly allow them to explore and do whatever as long as the gentile they'd like to marry (after having their fill of "fun") is willing to convert? If such a relationship is forbidden to converts as the haters like to point out, then why the blind eye for born Jews?

Even if one argues it's not "OK", the reality is that this is overlooked--born Jews don't get the criticism a convert is getting, yet the convert has very few options. If one want to attack the convert for trying to find some comfort when such support is not offered to them in the Jewish community, then we need to do this across the board for born Jews too! Do the haters know any suitable men for Chavi or another convert they know?? If so, why aren't you making the much welcomed introduction??

Chavi, you don't know me but have my support, even if I don't always agree with your opinions, I want you to do what is best for YOU at this stage in your life. Much love, my fellow sister :)

G-Girl! said...

Just be happy Chavi! A life well lived, one that is happy is worth more than anything else. It is your life, nobody else's.

Carrie said...

MAZEL TOV! You go Chavi!!! I've been waiting for you to open back up. I'm a convert in an LTR with a non-Jew and we work it out in our own way.

Redacted said...

Ugh...or maybe oy?

As a human being, I can empathize with your situation and wish you happiness and good luck on your path. I'm sure you've thought all this through and come to the conclusion that this is what is best for you.

As an orthodox conversion candidate, I have to say, my first reaction was a face-palm. I wish what one convert does didn't effect all of us. I wish converts were judged by the same standards as born Jews and allowed the space to redefine where they are at spiritually without casting doubts on the sincerity of their conversion or those of others. Still, the reality is that converts are held to a different standard and when one of us makes choices their Beis Din would disapprove of, it often makes the process harder for everyone else.

Sadly..what may be good for the individual often is harmful to the collective. I know you're not responsible for the current state of conversions, but that is the reality we live in and given that, I can't help but wonder why be so public with something so personal when it might harm others?

DieMaRgh said...

Just a note for those outside the US and those inside the US without a proper grasp of our history.
Just as the European Union is not one State but many The US is not one state but many. While all 50 Sovereign states agree to be bound by one federalist government, sharing resources for military, infrastructure, and foreign relations; our constitution's parties are the separate sovereign states not the individual populous.
Those states could opt under the constitution to annul the relationship or redraft their union under a different form.
With the language of Government not establishing a religion in our constitution, this prevents the federal level being used for organization except as may exist in inter-state relations of religious groups abroad. While it may be inconvenient for the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to certify 50 separate standards they have no right to declare the United States to be one state with one standard if they do not use the same standard on other unions such as OPEC or EU.
So technically each State could have their own Chief Rabbi, though states such as New York would have extreme difficulty selecting one.

Shoshanna said...

Best of luck finding your way to you. With love @skjask (see you in Israel :)

SusQHB said...

If you're happy, I'm happy for you.

As Leah J said, "I think converts should be allowed to grow and change in their Jewish identity the same as born Jews." I agree with that. I think its sometimes similar for BTs as well. Most BTS end up somewhere on the right. Few end up MO Liberal like myself and for a long time I was always left questioning whether others approve how how I live my Jewish life. Then I realized that I'm the only person that matters. I need to do what I think is the right fit. And that is what makes me happy.

Love you Chavs!

Unknown said...

I have never read your blog before and may never again. I read it as a posting on a Rabbi's fb page I know. With that being said congrats on basing your life on what you believe you and God want not some person who lived around 600 years ago. I know you have loyalties to Orthodoxy, but in my opinion they need to wake up and see the world for what it is. We are living in a diverse world not in a ghetto in Poland. We live in cities and Towns where it is very possible that you do not live near other Jews. Though there are exceptions people want you at your job not because of your religion or faith, but because of your skills. Religion feeds the soul, but we can't forget that there are other parts to feed as well. And for your relationships Jews get too hung up on interfaith marriages. For one if we continue to follow interfaith only, what we will produce is a situation much like the royals of Europe, genetically inbread. Second God made us who we are and is the voice that helps us in our hearts and our conscience, so if you fall in love, and I mean real love, with someone what right does some frum queen bee of the shul have in telling God he doesn't know what's right for you. Take that as you will.

Anonymous said...

@ DieMaRgh

That is a highly politicized(libertarian) and revisionist view of US history. The US was a Federation... That didn't work. Thus it became a Union. Hence the Constistution began with " form a more perfect union."

As far as States rights... Ever hear of something called the Civil War? It was decided there, once and finally that the Federal government was the supreme law of the land, and that State's rights were secondary considerations. So US Supreme Court then ruled, and has ever since.

Since the Constitution invest the Supreme Court with the power as the final arbitor and interpreter of the US Constitution, and as they have so interpreted for 151 of the US Constitutions 225 years.

Furthermore a US chief Rabbi would not need to ever be recognized by the US govt, much less appointed by the US Federal Govt. Typically Chief Rabbis are elected by chief Rabbis of individual cities, which in turn are elected by the congregational Rabbis of their cities. Much like Bishops in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The US Govt has no say over who is the Archbishop over the US for either of those faiths.

Moving on, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, being the Chief Rabbi of a sovereign nation, has to the right to decide who he will and will not recognize as a sovereign entity, and has a much right to declare the US one entity as they do the EU, or the various nations of the FSU.

That there is a problem reflects far more on the lack of Yachdut amongst the various streams of US Orthodoxy than it does anything of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. The Chief Rabbinate has no problem recognizing Reform or Conservative conversions, as they despite the wide range of views found within either movement, are able to agree enough to form inclusive umbrella organizations for themselves.

Thank you for sharing your parochial political views about what the nature of the US government is, I understand that you feel strongly about them, and feel quite sincerely about them. However, please understand that they really have no bearing on a national Rabbinate, which is something that is, and traditionally has been, a matter determined by the Jews of a nation, and not it government.

Anonymous said...

Rather I should say that the ultimate problem is that a large portion of the Rabbinate in the US has forgotten that being a Rav is a service position, in which the best interests of the people are supposed to be protected, not individual territories, and sectarian lines. Hence no US chief Rabbi or overarching Rabbinate.

magadociousrex said...

This took a lot of courage.

I commend you on sharing your life with us. I dont' even know you but I'm touched by your candidness.

How awful to you know , share something deeply important and have others trash you for it.

I"m a convert, I'm a Reform convert but a convert none the less. I toyed with at one point years and years ago the idea of going "all the way" and doing an Orthodox conversion, but realistically I can't. I don't have it in me. I completely "get" what you meant by the "box" I don't fit in that box either. So i'm just going to be a Reform Jew who is very observant for her "branch".

BE YOU. Who cares what everyone else thinks, live for you. its taken me YEARS to realize this for myself, but you need to live for you. Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, non practicing... it doesn't matter. WE ARE ALL JEWS. And that being said didn't someone VERY wise once say "don't do to others what is hateful to yourself, the rest is commentary go and study"- some people who have commented on this should take that lesson to heart.

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