I know this has been asked before, but my situation seems "impossible" though I believe with G-d all things can be done! I am a married woman, currently Catholic, married to a devout Catholic man with six devout Catholic children. I KNOW I am supposed to be Jewish. I cannot any longer set aside G-d's calling, much like He called Samuel and after three tries or so, Samuel finally realizes that it is G-d who is calling him. I desperately want to convert and am now, after all this time ready. My husband will be supportive and will come with me to classes, though I am not certain he will convert. The children will be another story. Can we lead two lives--them a Catholic life and me a Jewish life--but as a family celebrate both? (Though I will choose not to participate at Mass or rosary or anything Christian-related). I pray and hope with all my heart that this is possible.
What an interesting question! Is it not interesting how the Lord works?!
I can only imagine that this situation brings you a great deal of pain, and I do hope that you will be able to find a way to feel spiritually fulfilled while keeping your marriage and family together.
A few questions for you to ponder:
1) How much do you really know about Judaism? It is certainly far more than what one sees in the Old Testament” – in fact, we believe that the main values, laws, beliefs, and lore of Judaism can only be accessed through familiarity with “the Oral Tradition” that has passed down to us starting with Moses, through the prophets, Sages, the Talmud, and all the many generations of scholars that have followed them. Unless you have a serious foundation in Jewish texts and teachings, far and beyond the Bible, you simply do not have enough information with which to judge whether Judaism is the appropriate path for you.
2) Are you sure enough about your quest that you would risk destroying your family? A Jewish woman may not be married to a non-Jewish husband. You would not be accepted as a candidate for conversion while still married to your husband, unless he is willing to convert as well (at least not in the Orthodox world). Is this something you want to do? Is this fair to your husband? Is this fair to your children?
3) Have you considered the path of the “Righteous Gentile”? According to Jewish tradition, non-Jews do not need to convert to Judaism in order to believe in our conception of God, and to be considered a righteous and beloved person in Heaven. All that is required is to keep the Noahide law, which is a not insignificant religious practice, and to be basically supportive of the Jewish people. See http://asknoah.org/ for more information. This is probably the most practical path for someone who is attracted to Jewish teachings and beliefs, but is not a conversion candidate.
I once again hope that you will find more and more truth and spiritual meaning in your life ahead, as you learn more of the truth about God that the Jewish people were entrusted with.
Your situation is actually not uncommon. There are many for whom Judaism holds a strong fascination. I can see from your question that you have struggled with the desire to be Jewish for quite some time and you feel a deep calling. But there are several issues here: some of them concern your yearning, your family and others are legal (halakhic).
I don’t know how much of actual rabbinic (non-Biblical) Judaism you have experienced. Rabbinic Judaism in its form it has developed in the last 2000 years is inherently different from the Judaism described in the Bible. Besides the Bible, contemporary (rabbinic) Judaism also draws on a vast literature and set of beliefs and practices developed after the Second Temple period and until today.
How familiar you are with the everyday aspects of being Jewish and how familiar you are with core Jewish beliefs. Becoming Jewish is a gradual process. It involves a change not only in outward ritual observance but also a very different theology. Becoming Jewish means not only to join a religion but also to become part of a people, a history, and a culture. But there are other aspects concerning your family that are very important factors:
As you already mentioned in your question, your husband and children are devout Catholics and although supportive of your interest do not share your desire to convert. But unless your husband decides to convert as well as well as your children, a rabbinic court (Beit Din) of the conservative movement would not accept you for conversion. The reasons for that are that in the conservative movement we follow the principle of Jewish law of not permitting intermarriage. In converting one spouse in an already existing marriage (Catholic in your case) we would effectively create an intermarriage through the conversion. Further, a conversion requires that the convert is able and willing to live an observant Jewish life. If the rest of your family remains Catholic, how would you ensure to keep kosher, keep Shabbat etc? It would practically be impossible.
I know that this is not the answer you were hoping for. But let me emphasize one point very clearly: Salvation and redemption are not exclusive to Jews. According to Jewish beliefs righteous gentile too have a share in the world to come. A righteous gentile enjoys a place of honor and respect in the rabbinic tradition.
Maybe you could explore what it means to be a Noahide (a gentile who keeps the Noahide laws)? You might also gain a lot in starting to attend classes and learn about Judaism and Israel, maybe learn Hebrew? Look up a few course offerings in some of your local synagogues or Jewish Community Centers. It might also help you find a new appreciation for your own religious heritage.
I wish you a meaningful experience in exploring Judaism and may it bring you closer to God.
Your situation is not unheard of. Can it be done, can you have two religions in your home at the same time? Sure, if everyone is willing to work together. But it will be difficult and, frankly, sometimes impossible. For instance, what happens at Easter when the kids and husband come home from Church after hearing how the Jews killed Jesus? What will you say to your children when they asked you why you denied Christ? How will you handle a vocal rejection of Original Sin and say to your husband and children, through conversion, that you no longer believe it. Do you really want to be Jewish or simply get closer to the religion of Jesus? These are difficult questions and they need to be answered. You should not expect any rabbi with whom you work to not ask these challenging questions.
I am a bit concerned that you quoted the story from Samuel. I say that because I am not yet convinced that you know what Judaism is. Judaism is not what the Bible (i.e., the 'Old Testament') says it is. Judaism is what our Sages and rabbis have taught us Judaism is through the foundation of the Torah and the rest of the OT. I think you may have more investigating to do.
Having said that I want to offer a suggestion: meet with a rabbi and speak with him or her about your situation. Start going to temple. Learn the prayer service. Learn what a Jewish home is. Take classes taught by your rabbi. That should happen over the course of at least a year. If, after that time, you want to pursue Judaism, begin taking the conversion courses and directing yourself toward conversion.
Your enthusiasm is apparent and that is a huge plus. But there are too many questions still lingering. You may end up breaking up the family. Friends may disappear as they take sides. Peace in the house - shlom habayit - may forever be shattered. There are a thousand more issues that need to be studied and your husband needs to be involved in the process, not necessarily for the purpose of conversion, but to understand and take the journey with you.
Our Sages were always split about converts. Some made it very easy and some were downright negative about conversion. The reasons are varied but the truth is that conversion to Judaism means entering into a covenant and a people. Our Sages took this very, very seriously. To contemplate becoming a Jew necessitates that you take it as seriously, as well.
I wish you good luck on this journey. You are beginning and taking the first steps. Aseh lech rav - Find yourself a rabbi - u'kaneh lech chaver - acquire for yourself a partner in learning. That is the foundation upon which you can build your knowleged and your Jewish soul.
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