Parashat Miketz: Jew by choice should feel pride and be viewed as courageous

In this week’s portion, Miketz, Joseph moves from being falsely imprisoned to becoming second in command in Egypt. As Joseph settles into his new life, he is given a new name by Pharaoh: Zaphenath-paneah. This name reflects Josephs new status in life and the journey on which he has embarked. We, as a congregation, as the Jewish people, do something similar when we admit new Jews by choice into our holy covenant with God.

To receive a new name marks such an important moment in this person’s spiritual journey and should be something very joyful and outstanding, but unfortunately it is not always, as the second half of the new name, the ancestral link (bat / ben Avraham ve Sarah) is sometimes used by “born Jews” to shame or stigmatise those who converted. Using what should be a symbol of pride – to be a true daughter or son of those who have chosen to follow God’s path for the first time – to single out “converts”, leaves the bitter taste that Judaism is understood by them as a closed club for a born elite in the air, and that those who have joined the covenant are second class Jews, at the most.

The fact that anyone with the drive and honest wish to convert is allowed to do so is one of the most important ideas on the Jewish conception of our covenant with God; being Jewish is not a genetic condition, but a complex hierarchy of identity and choice.  Judaism is an inclusive religion that is willing to welcome individuals who desire to become Jewish. Jewish tradition teaches that Jews by choice are not less authentic or authoritative than those who are Jewish from birth.

When a convert receives an aliyah to the Torah for the first time, he or she should feel uplifted by a process of inclusion and holiness, not deflated by alienation and degradation. Jew by choice, like immigrants, should feel pride about their journeys and be viewed as courageous for responding to their transformative calling. This is why we bestow a new name on them and why we link them to Abraham and Sarah. There is no space to shame them.

Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Torah Reading Shabbat Miketz / Chanukah
Genesis 41:1−44:17;and Numbers 7:30-41
Reading: Gen 41:47-55 – Plaut p.271; Hertz p.158
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7 – Plaut p. 1448

Rosh Chodesh Tevet is on Monday and Tuesday

Shabbat Vayigash
Genesis 44:18−47:27
Reading: Gen 45:1 – 9- Plaut p.288; Hertz p.170
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15 – 37:28 – Plaut p. 302; Hertz p.178

Shabbat Vayeichi
Genesis 47:28–50:26 (End of Bereshit)
Reading: Gen 49:1-12 – Plaut p.309; Hertz p.183
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1 – 2:12 – Plaut p. 323; Hertz p. 191

Chanukka @ Bet David

A second chance to light the chanukiah with us will be this Friday, 15 December as part of our Kabbalat Shabbat service.

 The last candle is lit on Tuesday night, the 19 December.

 

 

About Bet David’s ‚Jews-by-Choice Programme‘

Becoming a Jew involves becoming part of a people. Like all nations, the Jewish People has its own culture and civilisation, comprising of religion, language, cuisine, art forms and other facets of life. Completion of Bet David’s Jews-by-choice programme is an important first step to becoming a Jew. We hope that those who join the programme will share our enthusiasm about what choosing Judaism represents, with us.

Abraham and Sarah were not born as Jews — they were the first to “choose Judaism”. Ruth, a convert to Judaism, was the great grandmother of King David. We recognise the tremendous contributions converts have made to Judaism. We also recognise the difficulties with personal feelings, families of origin and/or certain members of the Jewish community, in the choice.

Our Congregation’s Jews-by-Choice Programme gives instruction in the basic belief system and practice of Judaism, from a Progressive, liberal point of view, as well as a basic command of the Hebrew language for the purposes of following the prayer service. The course is recognised by the State of Israel, the South African Union of Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ) and by the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ; the largest organised Jewish body in the world).

Taking on a new religious identity is not a frivolous thing. In fact, it can be one of the most profound steps in a person’s life. We invite those interested in Judaism to enrol in the Introduction to Judaism class. This class, which meets weekly, includes one-on-one study with Rabbi Schell, the opportunity to attend worship services, and instruction on the ways in which one can become involved in our community in accordance with one’s interests and skills. Choosing Judaism is a highly personal journey and not bound by a time frame, but when a student is ready to join the faith, she or he comes before a Rabbinic Beit Din.

The duration of the Jews-by-Choice programme is a minimum of 12 to 15 months (40 classes) enabling the students to experience the full festivals‘ cycle and to become acculturated into the Jewish People. The program is divided in 3 terms; intakes to join the program are in January, May and August. We ask everyone who is planning a wedding after completion of a conversion, NOT to schedule the wedding without consulting the Rabbi.

If you have questions about the program, and/or would like to join, please contact Glynnis to schedule an appointment with Rabbi Schell (admin1@betdavid.org.za). The next intake is in January 2018.

By the way, the members of Bet David can attend the ‘Introduction to Judaism classes‘, too, but must please enrol and commit to attend on a regular basis.

Willkommen bei den Opfern ?

gestern laß ich auf dem blog „JewsByChoice.Org“ einen artikel, der mich doch ein wenig nachdenklich gemacht hat:

Welcome to the Hunted
(by David 7.3.2008)

My previous post seems terribly self-indulgent, especially in light of yesterday’s slaughter at Yeshiva Mercaz Harav in Israel.
… As if that weren’t cruel enough, those who were murdered were mere boys, studying their tradition, practicing their religion. They could not have been more innocent. Oh, wait. Scratch that: they were Jewish.

So, fellow Jews by Choice: I am honored to count you, along with myself, among the hunted, the despised and the maligned. If an innocent boy can be deliberately targeted in Israel, then we all have bull’s eyes on our backs, and over our hearts. It takes a brave soul, a soul that is called, to choose to join that company.

Prayer and contemplation, study and mitzvot and acts of tzedaka are important now; but so is steadfastness of purpose, and the refusal to be intimidated away from being Jewish.

A tough job that will only get tougher.

Let’s hang together, as Benjamin Franklin said, or we shall surely hang separately.

über die motivation zum judentum zu konvertieren wird immer wieder diskutiert. ich hatte bereits in meinem vorherigen text erwähnt, dass es von jüdischer seite keinen religiösen grund gibt, dass jemand zum judentum konvertiert, wenn er „anteil an der kommenden welt“* haben will. ein mindestmaß an menschlichkeit und sozialem verhalten langt. wer gerecht lebt, ist dabei (um es kurz und knapp auszudrücken). Mehr lesen