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[Solved] How to handle non-jews showing up to kiruv events.
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sequoia




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 3:05 pm
amother [ Marigold ] wrote:
I want to be careful in my response and just give you one perspective.

Long story short, I was not born hallachically Jewish. I was raised reform Jewish & always considered myself Jewish.

In college I got involved with Chabad and other kiruv-related Jewish organizations. I learned through them I wasn’t hallachically Jewish, but NONE of those organizations treated me differently when they found out my situation. They were always welcoming and treated me the same as other other Jewish (or non-Jewish) guest. I so appreciated their kindness, compassion & consideration.

Shortly after college I had a halachic conversion.


Same.
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singleagain




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 3:07 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Thank you all for your (really, very good) responses. I got the advice I was looking for.

I never know how to close these anonymous threads. Is it possible?


The only way for a thread to "close" is to have it locked by a mod. Unless a thread is just going around in circles it is left open. You do not have to reply. If you like, you can edit your OP to put "solved" or "update" in the title and then unfollow the thread.

Love a mod who is leaving this open bc it is an interesting topic
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Window




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 3:38 pm
We’re on Shlichus in a small town.
This sounds like more of an issue of one specific person, not a situation of lots of non Jews.
We had some non Jews come to our events, it doesn’t really bother us. Whatever, we’re here to do our work, and if some non-Jews come, who cares?
What we do is, we don’t actively reach out to them. They don’t receive our emails and we don’t personally invite them to events.
This woman seems different than anything we’ve dealt with. All of our non Jews who attend are either spouses/children/tag along friends of Jews.
You gotta come up with some sort of game plan for this woman. She does sound difficult.
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amother




Magenta
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 6:24 pm
amother [ Marigold ] wrote:
I want to be careful in my response and just give you one perspective.

Long story short, I was not born hallachically Jewish. (My mother converted reform). I was raised reform Jewish & always considered myself Jewish.

In college I got involved with Chabad and other kiruv-related Jewish organizations. I learned through them I wasn’t hallachically Jewish, but NONE of those organizations treated me differently when they found out my situation. They were always welcoming and treated me the same as other other Jewish (or non-Jewish) guest. I so appreciated their kindness, compassion & consideration.

Shortly after college I had a halachic conversion. I am married, have children & live in a lovely Jewish community.

These kiruv organizations did not pressure or try to get me to convert. But because of their compassion & outreach I was able to learn about my Jewish heritage and find my path to becoming frum. And now I have beautiful kids that would not be around if it wasn’t for organizations that do this kind of work.


I also have a Jewish father and always thought I was Jewish, and joined jewish organizations when I went to college only to find out I wasn't Jewish halachically.
I had a similar experience to you but wanted to point out I believe R Moshe paskened that people with a Jewish father are to be treated differently than "regular" nonJews as far as when they show interest in judaism. I think someone who thinks they are Jewish showing interest in Judaism is totally different than a Christian who thinks Judaism is cool in the same way lhavdil they think belly dancing or teepee building is cool.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 7:03 pm
I'm glad it's still open so I can add something. It's great to consult other kiruv initiatives but bottom line: your friend needs a rabbi who knows the score re these shailos and will be accessible.
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amother




NeonPurple
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 7:11 pm
I’m on shlichus on a college campus. It’s definitely a very fine line to walk, being warm and welcoming, which is what we are all about and balancing that with having an environment where Jews can meet (maybe even their soulmate) other Jews and have one dedicated place where they are among Jews - when they are all day and every day a minority among gentiles. Also the fact that it’s one thing to be spending your own money on providing food and materials to host people at your programs and events, but a different story if you are using tzedakah money that is specifically designated for the Jewish community to be used instead on the general population.

As women on this forum have attested from their own personal experience, they started out as not halachically Jewish but their path to yiddishkeit was through attending events at a chabad or kiruv organization where they were welcomed and treated as equals. It does get tricky though in certain situations. For example, someone not halachically Jewish may daven with a minyan but not be counted in the minimum of ten needed for the minyan. They can’t be called up to the Torah and can’t put on tefillin. On Rosh Hashana, they can hear the shofar along with others, as long as there is at least one Jew present who hasn’t yet heard shofar that day. Otherwise, the Rabbi isn’t allowed to blow it. Those are just a few examples.

Another reason it can be tricky for someone in this position, is that people often assume (whether it’s correct or not) that there is some vetting and approval process for whom we accept at our events. As the recent event of a fraudulent Jew who married a woman believing him to be Jewish based not just on his own word but on his past involvement with Chabad - this is an example of a situation where someone’s steady involvement at Chabad can give an impression to others that they are in fact Jewish.

The approach we take in our own chabad house is that we never turn anyone away chas v’shalom. But we do have conversations with people who begin regularly attending who we know aren’t Jewish. It’s unusual for someone who comes from a completely gentile background who has no interest in becoming Jewish to regularly attend our events. Usually, it’s someone who isn’t halachically Jewish but was raised Jewish and fully identifies as Jewish. Or it’s someone from a non-Jewish family who is sincerely interested in Yiddishkeit.

At the beginning of this school year, an Asian student began attending our events, including all the yomim tovim and every Friday night dinner. I figured she must be intrigued by or drawn to yiddishkeit. After talking to her, I was really surprised to discover she was fully Jewish with no conversions or adoption in the family. Turns out, her mother’s mother and father’s mother are Holocaust survivors. They were rescued by Sugihara and settled in Japan and their children were of course Jewish but some of them assimilated and married Japanese spouses. This Asian student has first cousins on her mother’s side who are Satmar and live in Williamsburg. Just goes to show - sometimes there’s a lot more to the story than we might originally think.

Another interesting story - A student whose parents were not halachically Jewish and converted Reform began coming regularly to our Chabad House. We foresaw there would be a problem when there were talks of forming our student board for the coming year. We were told by our Rav that if a student is on our board, they must be halachically Jewish since most people will automatically assume they are Jewish. This student was so involved that she was sure she would be appointed to our student board. So one Friday night when she was helping me in the kitchen, I gently told her that I know she and everyone she knows consider her Jewish, but pointed out that it may be worth it to consider halachic conversion so that she will be recognized as Jewish everywhere- including Israel where halachic Jewish status is the only recognized Jewish status. She almost dropped the food she was handling and looked at me as if I had just slapped her across the face. I felt so so awful and really doubted whether I handled it properly or not. Well, she ended up converting halachically and is now married to a frum guy and living a frum life in Israel with several children.

These are just a few stories that demonstrate the very delicate situation we are in. One thing I know is that we are always straightforward and honest but do whatever we can to ensure that every person feels respected and cared about.

I think in your situation, it would be best to explore together with this person opportunities for “Jewish awareness” -events ans programs geared for people who aren’t Jewish but are intrigued by or interested in Judaism. She should also know that there are other events and programs focusing on Jewish practice and they are geared for those who are already Jewish and that if she is seriously planning to go that route, she should get in touch with a Rabbi or beis din who handles conversions.

Wishing you hatzlacha.
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PinkFridge




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Dec 06 2021, 7:16 pm
I want to add something: I am in no way disparaging anyone's posts. I fully get a psak to be open, whether to kids who have a Jewish parent, etc. But use anything you glean from here to ask your own shailos, of someone IRL with whom you'll have an ongoing relationship.
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amother




Strawberry
 

Post Tue, Dec 07 2021, 1:00 am
amother [ Magenta ] wrote:
I believe R Moshe paskened that people with a Jewish father are to be treated differently than "regular" nonJews as far as when they show interest in judaism. I think someone who thinks they are Jewish showing interest in Judaism is totally different than a Christian who thinks Judaism is cool in the same way lhavdil they think belly dancing or teepee building is cool.


I was gonna say this. I learned that a child of a Jewish man and non Jewish woman (possibly even Jewish grandfather only, I'm not sure of the details) has the status of "zera kodesh" and differs in some ways from someone who has no Jewish lineage. At least one of the ways is that if a zera kodesh person is interested in converting to Judaism, one should NOT try to dissuade him (turn him away 3 times, etc).
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amother




Holly
 

Post Tue, Dec 07 2021, 4:52 am
I’m a giyores and attended many kiruv events (campus and community based) before I was frum. In my experience, all the organizations welcomed non-Jews in a pleasant and kind but not overly warm way. The Jewish attendees were given much more attention, warmth, and relationship building. The non-Jews were welcome to attend all events though, and always treated kindly. I don’t think it’s a big deal to have openly non-Jews coming, because it’s easy to nicely make others aware of their status. Your bigger problem is likely to be the non-Jews who are pretending to be Jews or have no idea they aren’t. In kiruv orgs I saw lots of that. It was mostly from people whose fathers were Jewish and they felt it was ridiculous and insulting to say they weren’t Jewish themselves - Reform says a person can be Jewish from their father - so they would actively lie since they truly felt “the Orthodox approach” was bigoted and wrong. They didn’t feel they were being deceptive because they identified passionately as Jews.

Events can’t be the focus of a kiruv initiative. Events are just how you meet people. Then you work on building connections to people who came to your event. So of course your mailing list, your group chat, and your events have this lady and her friends. But the follow-up invites that are small and personal - inviting people for a Shabbos seudah, or to bake challah with you, or to learn with you one on one a sefer or topic of their choice - those things are not public and you get to choose who to reach out to. Your focus for these less visible but much more important things will be the Jews.
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amother




Whitesmoke
 

Post Tue, Dec 07 2021, 9:23 am
amother [ Strawberry ] wrote:
I was gonna say this. I learned that a child of a Jewish man and non Jewish woman (possibly even Jewish grandfather only, I'm not sure of the details) has the status of "zera kodesh" and differs in some ways from someone who has no Jewish lineage. At least one of the ways is that if a zera kodesh person is interested in converting to Judaism, one should NOT try to dissuade him (turn him away 3 times, etc).

The term is "zera Yisrael", certainly not zera kodesh.
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