In response to an article in the Times of Israel Three Reasons Converts to Judaism are Treated Poorly, I felt the need to share my own personal insights as a convert to Judaism almost 50 years ago.

As a “convert” to Judaism with 45 years experience having lived both in Israel and North America, the entire discussion is rather alien to me. Are North American Orthodox communities insular and less likely to open themselves up to converts? That is definitely a question that can only be answered on a community by community basis and on a family by family basis.

Personally, I traveled all the way from Israel the summer of 1973 to meet the family of a girl I met in Israel with the hope of marrying her, only to be shown the door within the first half hour by her father. There was no way his daughter was going to marry someone without a Jewish pedigree.

On the other hand, my father and mother-in-law accepted me with a degree of acceptance, affection, and totality that I felt was overwhelming. They too were representatives of second generation New York Jews from the “Orthodox” community.

Again in my experience, any “outsider” (not born within) of an “Ultra-Orthodox” community be it Chassidic or Litvak, will experience a great deal of “distance” until they’ve proven themselves by years if not decades of adherence to that community’s “party line”. It is (or was decades ago) far more common for Baalei Tsuvah or converts to marry each other than to marry children of established families with known “pedigrees”. (Not a heck of a lot different than some working-class upstart trying to marry into an established “old money” family!)

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