16 year old wants to be Jewish

(27 Posts)
onemoreroll Fri 11-Apr-14 13:20:44

This is really difficult to put down concisely, it concerns a (just) 16 year old boy in my family. No one in the family seems to know what to do. A couple of years ago he began to be interested in Judaism. Now 2 years later he is obsessed. He claims he is Jewish (he isn't), he attends a school which is sympathetic, actually he's stopped going to school. He's left the parental home and for a while lived with his Granny. Now he seems to be moving around several orthodox Jewish families in Stamford Hill. He's changed his name by deed poll to a Jewish sounding name and now is saying he is going to Israel to study in a seminary. He had a social worker, but now he's 16 they've lost interest. Any ideas?

ImperialBlether Fri 11-Apr-14 13:24:53

Do you think he has mental health issues? It's a common time for them to start with boys.

expatinscotland Fri 11-Apr-14 13:30:06

Maybe he wants to become a Jew. I know a woman who was brought up with no religion who converted to Orthodox Judaism in her early twenties ans she had to work towards it for years. She married and had six children last I heard.

ImperialBlether Fri 11-Apr-14 13:31:39

I think someone should speak to the social worker again. Just because he's 16 it doesn't mean they can just brush him off. What is he doing for money at the moment?

Twighlightsparkle Fri 11-Apr-14 13:31:48

oh goodness, 16 is so young.

I think if i were his mum, i would be worried re mental illness but probably offer as much support as I can.

BertieBotts Fri 11-Apr-14 13:34:44

Why is it a problem that he wants to join a religion? Sorry I'm a bit confused.

Ludways Fri 11-Apr-14 13:34:46

Why can't his family talk to him and support him. If he wants to convert and is clear and concise in his reasons, then why not?

BiscuitCrumb Fri 11-Apr-14 13:39:17

Errrmmm maybe he wants to convert to Judaism - just saying. It seems clear that he knows what he wants, so what is the problem exactly?

ImperialBlether Fri 11-Apr-14 13:39:33

Don't you think it's clear that he has other problems then just wanting to change his religion? He could change his religion and stay in school, or look for an apprenticeship, or stay at home. His actions seem very suspect to me I'm afraid.

rinabean Fri 11-Apr-14 13:43:44

He wants to be Jewish, it's very important to him, no support from his own family so he found Jewish families to support him. He's continuing in some education, just not that which his family approves of.

I think if a 15/16 year old is strong enough to do this it's a sign of good mental health and not mental illness, but maybe there's more to the story.

NigellasDealer Fri 11-Apr-14 13:43:45

i did not think that the 'Haredim' of Stamford Hill would welcome liberal or reform Jews let alone non - Jews into their houses.
kind of makes me think this post is a bit...
odd.

BiscuitCrumb Fri 11-Apr-14 13:45:13

But maybe his actions regarding moving in with granny, not attending school are because he is telling people he wants to convert to Judaism and no one is listening to him.

BertieBotts Fri 11-Apr-14 13:48:27

Can you change your name at 16 anyway? I thought you had to be 18.

MarcusAurelius Fri 11-Apr-14 13:49:35

How does he feel about his foreskin?

You can't convert to Judaism, you are born a Jew. Jews actively discourage conversion to their religion. It is very rare.

HavantGuard Fri 11-Apr-14 13:58:01

What Nigellas said.

Ludways Fri 11-Apr-14 13:59:55

Of course you can convert if you go to a welcoming faction and gain a sponsor. It's unusual but not unheard of.

EnthusiasticColaDrinker23 Fri 11-Apr-14 14:27:09

I very much doubt that he has considered the whole picture of the Jewish religion. He could become Jewish but he won't be a Jew.

HolidayCriminal Fri 11-Apr-14 14:35:52

Of all the loopy things 16yo boys could do, this is right at the bottom of the list of what would bother me (saying that as a grumpy Humanist). Assuming he's not otherwise showing signs of mental illness, I'd wish him well.

birdbrain21 Fri 11-Apr-14 14:49:19

neversleepagain Yes Orthodox Jews will discourage anyone who wants to convert, but that's not because you can't rather to make sure the person is serious about wanting to become Jewish. There are a lot of complicated laws involved in being Jewish and anyone who is not put off the idea of converting must spend time (normally takes a few years) studying the laws and living by them before the conversion actually takes place. Thats why it probably seems so rare as not many people are serious enough about converting to stick it out.
Once you have converted you are Jewish for life and breaking any of the laws could lead to divine punishment in this world or the next so we would rather put people off and make it difficult for them to convert rather then people doing it on a whim and then getting bored of it and end up breaking the laws...

expatinscotland Fri 11-Apr-14 17:34:10

I know someone who became an Orthodox Jew. She was born to a 'Christian' family but her parents never practised any religion.

It took her several years to get there, she was about 19 when she decided this was the life she wanted, but she did become a Jew.

So it can be done.

specialsubject Fri 11-Apr-14 22:04:14

it is a little less painful for women to do it....

but I am also going to type my first hmm.

Foreveratodds Tue 29-Apr-14 18:45:50

You can convert to any branch of Judaism, not necessarily orthodox. If you have a liberal or conservative/masorti conversion, it is quicker and easier. What seems odd is that he has started by choosing such a radical and devoted form of Judaism as Hasidism. My brother had the same thing, he was saying he wanted to become a Buddhist monk till it became clear he was escaping reality and responsibilities such as having to get out in the world and make a living. Hasidism welcomes "eternal students" and will support them financially (in Israel, they don't do army military service or pay taxes) so there may be something of escapism in that. On the other hand, he may really have a Jewish soul...!

Bromptonaut Tue 29-Apr-14 21:07:58

I'm reminded of Jack Rosenthal's play Oy Vay Maria about a Catholic woman marrying a Jewish man and ending up taking his religion more seriously than he did.

leedsgirl231 Fri 02-May-14 15:44:36

maybe he wants to be jewish? ask him about it! talk to him, why is communication so hard with people nowadays? I was struggling and my parents never spoke to me, just told me to cheer up and stop being so stupid (i was depressed.)
talk to him about how important it is to him. Ask him if it's about the coming of age "being a man" or thinking he is 'ugly' (if he just wants circumcision) or if it is really the religion he wants to be part of.

the 'coming of age' and 'circumcision' ideas are suggestions. take it with a pinch of salt and see what he says

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