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Fri Aug 24, 2012, 07:58 PM

Nobody spoke to me but a Jew for Jesus. Twice.

This happened to me twice.

I went to a Holocaust Remembrance Day service at a large conservative shul in Houston.

Nobody greeted me. Nobody spoke to me. A woman came up to me afterwards with a pendant that had a Mogen David with a cross in it. Big clue. She talked to me a while and I eventually figured out she was a Jew for Jesus. She wanted to go have coffee with me and my husband, but we declined.

The same thing happened when I went to the largest synagogue in New York City. Temple Emanu El. I was there in New York near Christmastime. I went to the service for the first night of Hannukah.

I went to a reception afterwards. Nobody came up and greeted me or my husband. A creepy guy in a black raincoat started talking to me and I found out he was also a Jew for Jesus.

I think this means that synagogues have a real problem. Every house of worship needs someone to greet visitors and at least acknowledge their presence.

I personally think Jews for Jesus are horrible sneaky people trying to convert people to Christianity by being dishonest.

I also tried to convert to Reform Judaism twice, and was rebuffed twice, but that's a different story.

What do you think about this lack of greeting visitors at a temple?


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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Nobody spoke to me but a Jew for Jesus. Twice. (Original post)
Manifestor_of_Light Aug 2012 OP
Betsy Ross Aug 2012 #1
meti57b Aug 2012 #2
Manifestor_of_Light Aug 2012 #3
Behind the Aegis Aug 2012 #4
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #8
Meshuga Oct 2012 #5
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #6
Meshuga Oct 2012 #9
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #10
Meshuga Oct 2012 #11
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #12
Meshuga Oct 2012 #14
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #13
Meshuga Oct 2012 #15
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #16
Meshuga Oct 2012 #17
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #18
Meshuga Oct 2012 #20
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #22
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #19
Meshuga Oct 2012 #21
Manifestor_of_Light Oct 2012 #7

Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Original post)

Fri Aug 24, 2012, 08:06 PM

1. It sucks.

I too have experienced the lack of a greeting when I have visited a synagogue, Orthodox and Conservative. It is very disappointing.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Original post)

Fri Aug 24, 2012, 11:04 PM

2. We have .....

at every service, a member of our Board of Directors inside the door of the sanctuary, handing out siddurs and Etz Hayim and greeting everyone who comes through the door.

At the kiddush after the service, I think it could be difficult to tell who is a visitor and who just shows up once a year, that you don't recognize. It's a little embarrassing to greet someone with a big "welcome", and then find out they have belonged forever but just don't usually show up.

Good question though, I'll have to ask.

We are "Conservative".

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 01:15 AM

3. one conservative, one reform.

The conservative temple was Beth Yeshurun in Houston.

The reform temple was Temple Emanu El in NYC which is quite famous.

I think there must be a problem when the only people who greeted me are people who are infiltrating in order to actively turn people AWAY from Judaism, while lying the whole time.



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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 26, 2012, 02:10 AM

4. Have you thought about letting THEM know?

I find that bigger houses tend not to be as personal. But, providing this feedback could change how they treat newcomers.

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Response to Behind the Aegis (Reply #4)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 12:08 AM

8. I wrote letters to both temples.

The Conservative shul, Beth Yeshurun, in Houston and Temple Emanu El in New York City.


I got no response to either letter.




I'm a secular humanist.

Where I live now in a little town it would be too far to drive. People have large 8 foot tall crosses in their yards & can't understand why I won't go to their church when they invite me.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #3)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 09:44 PM

5. That is unfortunate

Synagogues are all different and it is sad that some are so cold with its congregants not knowing how to welcome strangers. It sucks that it happens so often.

Some congregations are actually welcoming at first but just before you officially join them. That's when they start ignoring you... Once you pay your dues and building fund. That is why I appreciate the synagogues with people who don't approach you because I don't need to waste my time by returning to a "friendly" synagogue only to have a disappointing membership that I want out.

I just think that it is funny how congregants in these synagogues complain when attendance and participation is low.

Regarding your conversion attempt... It is part of the tradition for rabbis to turn the person away the first time to test the person's conviction. You should not take that personal since it is part of the process. Sometimes the rabbis have other reasons too. For example, say your spouse does not wish to convert then the rabbi will likely discourage you from converting as well.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 12:02 AM

6. My spouse wanted to convert the second time, at the Classical Reform synagogue.

The board was made up of rich doctors and their wives. They objected b/c we were unemployed. We both volunteered our services for 40 hours of unpaid labor in lieu of dues.

I have a Juris Doctor and my husband has a B.S. and M.S. in Physics.

The rabbi wanted us to convert, but I did not want to attend where I was not wanted by the board. I did not want charity.I wanted a job so I could pay my bills.

The board members were baffled because they "had never seen a couple where BOTH wanted to convert."

I don't get it.

I left xtianity b/c I made the mistake of taking their opinion of me seriously. I got the strength and self-esteem to leave. Their preachers bellowing about original sin, hellfire and brimstone drove me to the edge. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die after every sermon of this hateful, abusive, unearned shame-based soul-destroying belief system that gets a pass.
I had to leave.

Not to mention all the inconsistent and hateful stuff Jesus allegedly said, when he didn't exist historical. xtianity is a deeply superstitious, bloodthirsty syncretic pagan mystery cult based in ritual cannibalism.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #6)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 03:48 PM

9. I am so sorry for your experience

Holy shit! That is unbelievable but believable at the same time since I had to deal with the stuck up congregations in the past.

But none made money an issue for affiliation. Using your unemployment as an issue is just absurd and embarrassing. And why did they make you pay dues when you were not even converted yet?

The rabbi is the authority when it comes to conversion and it was his job to shield you from his congregation. He should not expect you to even join his congregation but let you shop around to affiliate in a community where you feel at home.

I never heard that a couple's decision to convert together would be something negative. Quite the opposite, since a couple having the interest to join the Jewish people should make the Jewish community proud especially when there are so many Jews by birth who don't really value their own heritage.

I don't blame you for being turned off. And I don't blame some Jewish couples and interfaith couples for choosing a more welcoming alternative like UU. They are treated with a cold sholder so they go elsewhere. What a shame.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #9)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 04:30 PM

10. We never converted, never joined, never paid dues.

We started calling it the Houston Congregation for Rich Jews since their initials were HCRJ.



We both still consider ourselves UUs. Although we are too far from any UU fellowship or church to consider attending.

There was a fellowship in Houston where I was the music director. The old people who founded it fired the half-time minister and decided to make it totally lay-led. This disgusted me & I thought of it as amateur hour. I started a choir and was told by one of the board members that "This congregation is only interested in instrumental music.' The regular piano player held the power, not me. She spent the money in the music fund without telling me, before I spent it for sheet music. The board couldn't understand why I was furious over that.
I was the piano player in the summer, unpaid of course.

She also got the board to buy a very nice grand piano when I couldn't even get a choir together--they griped about "it's the wrong night of the week" or some such bullshit.

I gave up and resigned. I hate church/synagogue politics.


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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #10)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 07:19 PM

11. LOL

"HCRJ: Houston Congregation for Rich Jews" --

Yes, congregational politics are annoying and I have no patience for it. They ask your input to solve an issue like attendance and low affiliation but don't like you feedback. Then they think you are trying to rock the boat when you show the problems with the status quo.

I have been lucky to find a very small congregation that is affiliated with the Reform Movement and that we like. The people are laid back and there is no drama. The rabbi is awesome too. It is a bit of a drive but worth the trip. But the synagogues close to home are either too expensive to affiliate or we just don't fit in.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 07:25 PM

12. I want to emphasize that the rabbi was cool. He was not the problem.

I had no idea there was such a thing as Classical Reform before I went there. No beanies, no prayer shawls, nearly all the readings in English.
Most of the congregation was nice too.

Rich doctors on the board didn't want a couple of highly educated, skilled unemployed people there. Oh, and,let's say they might want to HELP us find a job so we COULD pay dues???

Nahhh, that would make sense.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #12)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 09:59 AM

14. That is usually the case

Rabbis are usually cool especially the old school Reform rabbis. The older rabbis in the movement tend to be more liberal.

The rabbis from the conservative movement that I have met are great people too but I feel more at home in a Reform congregation since there is no pressure.

I've learned that the greatness or the "crappiness" of a synagogue is dependent on its people and board. I stay far away from the crappy ones.

And the rich snobby asshole filled HCRJ is an example of community that I would stay away from.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #11)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 07:26 PM

13. I would have made a good Reform Jew but they blew it.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #13)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 10:13 AM

15. And that is a huge problem with the movement

...tolerating this kind of shit that scares Jews-by-birth and Jews-by-choice away.

People like you and your husband who seek to be active members of the community are hard to find. It's our loss indeed.

But you guys put the effort, time, and put up with a lot of shit. So as a member of the DU Beit Din I vote you in.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #15)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 06:23 PM

16. Thanks! High five to ya!!

Is a Beit Din a Jewish g roup?

When I was in college taking religion classes I found out my name is Hebrew and means a geographic feature in Israel, a plain.

This was at a Presbyterian college, but interesting.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #16)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 06:40 PM

17. A Beit Din is a Jewish court

And you go in front of a Beit din on the day of your conversion so they will make the final decision. The beit din is followed by the mikvah ceremony and at that point the rabbi teachs you the secret Jewish handshake.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #17)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 06:59 PM

18. Oh okay!! Cool!

I guess a mikvah is one way to make sure you ain't got no stinkin' converts.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #18)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:07 AM

20. No that is something else

The bris is the ceremony supposed to scare converts. Or, if the male convert is already circumcised, the hatafat dam brit ceremony is used instead. The hatafat dam brit is the symbolic bris where the mohel uses a needle to draw a tiny bit of blood.

The mikvah is a pool and the ceremony in the mikvah is probably very pleasant. You come out a Jew once you are out of the mikvah. So you come out whiny, wimpy, and bad at sports.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #20)

Mon Oct 15, 2012, 02:13 PM

22. I knew a mikvah is a ritual bath--no stinkin' converts!! Clean ones!




Whiny, wimpy and bad at sports

I remember my dad telling me that Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in the World Series on Yom Kippur, because that was a sacred religious holiday. He was very admiring of a man sticking to his principles.

We were secular; raised Presbys but basically agnostic. Grew up in postwar suburbia. The only Jews in town were doctors.

My grandmother, my mom and dad were all atheists when they died. They believed there was nothing after death. And they were down with it. They had peace of mind.

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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #16)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 07:00 PM

19. Thanks so very much for the badly needed humor!!



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Response to Manifestor_of_Light (Reply #19)

Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:13 AM

21. No, thank you for the needed humor! :-)

That is the other criteria that would make any Beit din say that you are in.

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Response to Meshuga (Reply #5)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 12:05 AM

7. The classical reform rabbi did NOT reject me--the Board did.

Because money is more important than warm bodies participating, I suppose.



And my spouse wanted to convert too.

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