Telling Parents About Conversion

Plenty of empathy and emotional support can help most parents to understand and ultimately accept their child's decision to convert.

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And don't expect books to teach your family everything they want or need to know. If your parents have never been inside a synagogue, invite them for a tour--perhaps accompanied by your rabbi. This is an especially good idea if you want your parents to attend a synagogue service honoring your conversion or if a Jewish wedding is in the offing.

Nevertheless, your parents may not be ready for a full immersion in Jewish life and culture. Some converts have unrealistic expectations of family members, who may be too overwhelmed or confused to comfortably attend your conversion service or to participate in a Jewish wedding ceremony. Respect their limits. And respect your own, too. Taking on a new religious identity is an enormous change, and your needs take precedence. As you grow more comfortable and confident as a Jew, you will become a better teacher and guide for your family.

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Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is a writer. Her books include Choosing a Jewish Life, The New Jewish Wedding, Saying Kaddish, and The Red Tent, a novel. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.