Sunday, December 27, 2009

helping converts

Wishing my readers a tzom kal (easy fast).

This week there was a notice in shul that they are looking for families to host not religious/pre-Jewish immigrant soldiers for a traditional shabbos. The Education corps has a learning course in which they teach the fundamentals of traditional (Orthodox) judaism to those who are interested.

A couple of years ago we had over some soldiers who were in the middle of the conversion process and they came to our house a number of times for shabbat. We had lively discussions and they promised to keep in touch after the conversion was complete. Well they didn't. One of them called us once afterward and after that she never even returned my calls and the other one never called and never returned my calls. I think one of them actually had the potential, but I don't know where she is or what she is up to now.

The question is should we do it again? On one hand there is a serious problem with the russian immigrants who are not halachically jewish, but came to Israel after being treated like Jews their entire lives. They get to Israel and are not allowed to get married and are outcasts in a number of ways. Technically the State of Israel should have stricter controls of who comes in and who doesn't, but they are here now and it is our problem.

One on side, we don't want to be converting people who are probably not going to be keeping mitzvos. On the other hand, if they are interested in being part of the Jewish nation and they are willing to learn what is required, I don't know if it is my issue if at the end of their conversion they decide to join the secular majority of the Jewish people. That is, as long as I do my part and do my best to show them what traditional Judaism has to offer and to convince them that it is their best interest to keep the mitzvos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

camping at the dead sea

We just came back from a multi-day chanukah excursion. Monday night we camped at the Ein gedi beach by the dead sea. It was supposed to be bitter cold, but the weather turned out to be very nice. So we had a bbq and a small bonfire and everyone had a great time.

We went to ein bokek monday morning on the trail and there was a lot of water. The weather was perfect, but not really for a swim. As I watched my children I saw a lot of differences in thought patterns (or lack thereof). It was chilly out so none of the adults went into the water, aside from our feet as we walked through it. Some of the kids went into the pool and had a great time. When they came out they were freezing. We didn't bring a change of clothes because we didn't think it was possible that they would go into the water.

In any case, what I noticed is:
Child - Sees water wants to go in, goes in and has a great time. Comes out. It is cold. complains bitterly until something else catches his attention.

Adult - Sees water and doesn't even consider going in because it will be cold when he comes out.

The child obviously had more fun because he did not use any foresight. The question is does his discomfort after playing in the water offset the fun he had?

We will never know the answer.