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Perplexed at my friends conversion to Judaism

(12 Posts)
Ignorama Tue 07-Oct-08 10:10:03

I have namechanged as I am very ashamed of my ignorance of Jewish matters.

My childhood friend and I have just gotten back in touch recently. He is gay, he has a boyfriend, he has recently changed his name to something very Jewish and converted to Judaism, and is speaking about relatives in Israel I never knew about.

Having known him since he was young, I am truly baffled at him suddenly having relatives abroad who are jewish, him converting, as he never took an interest in religion before.

His parents have died in the last couple of years, and I am wondering if he is "filling in the gaps" so to speak?

I understand so little about his new religion, and his life as it is now, that I am wondering how to best be a friend without sounding judgmental or questioning him too much.

morningpaper Tue 07-Oct-08 10:17:08

well it's possible that he is finding comfort in religion at a difficult time

If he comes from a Jewish family then perhaps he is trying to 'find himself' now that his parents have gone, and wants more of an identity of his own?

I don't know why you should worry about questioning him too much - he isn't going to mind. You haven't spoken to him for years so lots will have gone on during that time.

I do find your words "I am wondering how to best be a friend" to be rather patronising though. You either like him or you don't.

Bridie3 Tue 07-Oct-08 10:19:15

Perhaps he has spiritual needs which are being filled by Judaism.

ladyconstancekeeble Tue 07-Oct-08 10:21:50

Its not unusual for british born Jews to be totally ignorant that they are Jewish as many who escaped from the nazis hid their religion as they didn't want to be targeted again. Maybe he didn't know about his Jewish background until after his parents died. He wouldn't be the first.

Bridie3 Tue 07-Oct-08 10:25:11

This happened to the children of a friend of my mother's. She escaped in a boat from Norway as a child when the Germans invaded. I think her parents had to stay behind.

She was so traumatised that she said she would never tell her two sons they were Jewish. Understandable but terribly sad. I hope they know now.

ignorama Tue 07-Oct-08 10:43:43

I am sorry I come across as patronising. That is my fear. I know so little that I am worried that I will jeopardise the friendship with my ignorance. I want to be a friend, not somebody who come marching in with ignorance written on my forehead. I liked him a lot when we grew up, he was for a good number of years my BEST friend. But I recognise that a lot has changed in his life and it wont be that easy to restart, and justabout impossible to start where we left off.

Maybe it is so, that he found out more after his parents died, he may have gone through papers and diaries. Thinking back, he once mentioned wanting to go and se an aunt in Warsaw that he had just realized existed. I cant recall he did. But he might have done so later.

Maybe the most honest approach is to simply say: "Look mate, I am curious, tell me what has happened in your life, and why are you now Jewish?" Or is that too blunt?

AMumInScotland Tue 07-Oct-08 10:50:17

I'd go with honestly asking him - easy enough to say "I really don't know anything about Judaism - tell me about it". There's no particular reason why you would know much about it, if you didn't know anyone of that faith. If he's just recently become involved in it, he'll probably be very keen to tell you all about it, and why he started looking into / rediscovering it.

Shitehawk Tue 07-Oct-08 10:56:27

Just talk to him. Speculation gets you nowhere, and he will probably be delighted that you are showing an interest in his life.

As to your wondering how to be a friend ... his new religion doesn't change the person he is, or the friend that he is. He doesn't need anything different from you than you were giving him before.

morningpaper Tue 07-Oct-08 11:08:51

I think your approach is just fine

Just save the "JAYSUS DID YOU HAVE TO HAVE YOUR KNOB-END WHAPPED OFF?" question for a later date

SaintGeorge Tue 07-Oct-08 11:14:20

You reallllly want to get the QOTW title for yourself don't you MP? grin

ummadam Thu 09-Oct-08 10:55:01

as someone who changed my religion many years ago now, honest open questions are always much more welcome than guesswork or assumptions.

I respond much better to "white girl in a hijab, that's a bit odd isn't it?" grin than "where are your family from, no really, I mean what country, no really, so you must have married a muslim then? does he make you wear that?" hmm

malfoy Thu 09-Oct-08 20:36:24

I agree with ummadam. I am a jewish convert and don't mind questions at all. In fact I love sharing my knowledge.

It's the tone of your questions that is important.

I would recommend Julia Neuberger's book On Being Jewish.

But feel free to ask me any questions.

BTW my best friend is muslim. My converting has had no impact on our friendship.

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