I watched a really deep and profound shiur (class) once that said that the tears of a woman are the rain that causes blessings to come from above, that a woman’s tears have great power to soften Hashem and call upon his mercy.
Today, since it is fall and our rainy season, it is a lot like the heavens cry with me, sharing in my sadness. I try to keep this blog upbeat and hopeful, but sometimes the only appropriate response to life is to cry out to Hashem.
We were given some bad news regarding our conversion process yesterday. Somewhere, someone who converted that we have never met made some bad choices and now our current Beis Din (Rabbinical Court) is no longer willing to work with us unless we begin our process all over again after we move. This would mean our son would not be able to attend Yeshiva and would likely put our conversion back 2-3 years. Our other option is to try to find another Beis Din on the Israeli Rabbinate’s approved list that might be more lenient, even though we haven’t been working with them for years. Our Rabbi has told us not to lose heart and has some ideas of courts he has worked with before.
It’s hard not to lose heart. It feels like every time we begin to make progress toward conversion, some major setback happens that tosses us back to square one, like the board game chutes and ladders. You think you’re near the end, but then a chute comes along and you’re back at the beginning…again.
The major fear that the Beis Din had was my son. They haven’t spoken to him since he was 8 years old and even then it was very brief. Their fear is that at 13 now, he will rebel against us and stop observing. I can understand their concerns, but I wish they would have spoken to my son before making such a determination.
My son is a pretty remarkable 13 year old.
I know most mothers believe that, but my son has been through so much and has such a deep love of Judaism. He began celebrating Jewish holidays at age 5 and has been raised Jewish since. His father left his life when he was 6. When he was little, I remember holding him and explaining to him why he wasn’t allowed up on the bima (place where the Torah is read in a Synagogue) with the other boys toward the end of services or on Simchas Torah. I comforted him when he was teased in day school for being a goy. I’ve hugged him when boys came to our Chabad house for their bar mitzvahs and promptly disappeared from observance after, leaving him still waiting for his own. He now watches boys younger than him casually receive their aliyahs, then leave.
If anyone would have a reason to be bitter about Judaism, it would be my son, but he isn’t.
My son studies Torah every week with his Zaide (grandfather). He stumbles over Hebrew words, learning to translate them and he is disappointed if he has to miss a week. He yearns to visit Israel and seriously considers aliyah. He sees himself as Jewish, just with a small paperwork issue. He is studying hard, hoping to prepare for Yeshiva, nervous but excited about all he could learn there. For now, my husband and I have decided it’s best not to tell either child about this setback and hope that we find a resolution before we have to. They’ve already been through so much and all they really want is just to be fully Jewish.
We’ve given up so much for conversion. The hope of more children, a real wedding, a bar mitzvah for our son, soon a bat mitzvah for our daughter, and soon Alaska. As I cry this morning, I beg Hashem…please. Please don’t ask us to give up my son going to Yeshiva, too. Please help us convert in time for him to start there and have this one experience on time. Please. He’s working so hard and is so devoted to You and to Torah. Please don’t turn him away. Please.
And please daven for our family that Hashem should stretch out his hand for us and help us through this. I know we’ll do another 2 or 3 years or however long it takes, but I don’t know how much more the children can take of this and I worry that the beautiful spark of Judaism in each of them will dim.
Like any Alaskan in the rain, I’m sheltering those tiny sparks as best I can from the rain, trying to shield them from the wind so that they have the chance to grow.