Wedding Woes

Talk to a rabbi and give your bro room to grow

Dear Prudence,
My philosophy regarding the existence of God or gods is largely indifferent; regardless, I’ve been considering converting to Judaism, primarily because of my family’s history. My great-grandmother’s Jewish family converted to Catholicism when they immigrated to the U.S. during World War II. There’s also a large and accepting Jewish community in my city. My younger brother tells his friends that he’s Jewish (he’s not), which really bothers me, because I suspect that he’s only doing it out of an urge to be “unique.” He seemed oddly impressed when he saw that I was the only white person in my group of college friends, and he speaks of his one black, gay, Jewish friend like he’s some rare collectible. I told him he could convert to Judaism if he wanted, but he said he doesn’t want to, and continues to claim he’s Jewish. My question is twofold: 1) is it right for me to convert to Judaism if I don’t really worship any higher power, and 2) how should I address my brother’s behavior?

—Religiously Included

Re: Talk to a rabbi and give your bro room to grow

  • The brother's behavior, while annoying, isn't really yours to fix. Talk to a rabbi about converting and your beliefs. 
  • bleve0821bleve0821 The Shire
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    TECHNICALLY, if the great-grandmother was Jewish, LW and brother are both Jewish by lineage because of the matrilineality (I think that's what it's called...?).  I only know this because in HS, I dated a guy whose mother made him break up with me because "He could never marry a woman who isn't Jewish," and when I asked out of genuine curiosity if it would matter if I converted, he said it wouldn't.

    "And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me..."
    --Philip Pullman

  • thefanciestbecklerthefanciestbeckler Chattanooga, TN
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer

    I think it would be disrespectful for LW to convert without believing the major tenants of the faith. But I suppose talking to a rabbi to make sure couldn't hurt.

    Brother is annoying, but it's not LW's problem.

  • so she wants to "convert to Judaism" so her brother will like her more?
    this whole thing is confusing. 

    I just kind of want to smack the OP and be all, "MYOB/you do you" - i don't see any value to "converting" to a religion if you have no interest in practicing that religion. based on the flippant tone of the letter, i'm betting the OP has no idea what is involved int he formal conversion process. (I'm not either, beyond what Charlotte had to do on SATC.) I also don't understand why she cares how her brother is choosing to represent himself because it has absolutely nothing to do with her. sure he's lying, but it's not hurting anything. 
  • 1) Talk to a rabbi, and
    2) MYOB re: your brother
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