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Crazy frum story...


Stephanie66

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I met a single mom while our kids were in Jewish day school together. She had converted Conservative and was really serious about her conversion.

So, she moved to Texas and I moved to Minnesota, and we more or less just IMed and talked to each other on Facebook. I saw her postings getting weird-lots of anti-Islam stuff. I called her out on it, and she said she wasn't a bigot, but wanted to make Aliyah (go to Israel and live there) and she was just very pro-Israel.

So, she then began an Orthodox conversion. Only half joking, I asked her why she was voluntarily giving up her rights? She said she wanted a husband, quite desperately, and they are more likely to marry in the Orthodox community. I was a little shocked by this, but she had a point. If she wanted to marry within the Jewish community as a 40-something divorced mom (convert), her best bet was probably Orthodoxy or Reform, and she rejected Reform.

So...she converted to Orthodoxy and moved herself and her daughter to Israel.

And all of the sudden, her profile picture changes to include this guy and her status changed to engaged. Of COURSE, I IMed her. She said they had met three weeks ago, and were getting married in two weeks. She said, "We are old enough to know what we want! And I had a previous engagement two months ago fall through!" Ummm.

SO...final part of the saga was she made a post today about a pre-nup that was all in Hebrew, which she can't read. She thought it was "so cute" that he told her not to worry about it and he loved her. (He told a joke about Adam Sandler coming and sweeping her away, so he had to protect himself.) I IMed her immediately and asked her to get it translated by HER lawyer before she signs it. It would be like my fiance giving me a document in German and telling me he loved me. No way would I sign it. She just said if she doesn't sign it, he won't marry her.

We are talking about a 45 year old woman, not a 20 year old.

In my last gasp, I said, "Why wouldn't he WANT you to know what it says? Why didn't he have it translated into English for you?" She ended the IM.

I don't think I can say anything else to her about it. She seems pretty intent on being married to whoever. I don't understand, but it REALLY struck me as the same as the young fundie Christians. Only hers is completely voluntary. If anyone has any ideas for anything I could say, I would appreciate it, but I think she is going to marry the guy and not have any idea what the pre-nup said.

ETA: My fiance and I moved kind-of fast. We were engaged and living together within 6 months. But I didn't love him after three weeks. I liked him and thought we had potential, but I didn't love him yet.

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I expect the pre-nup is a ketubah, which describes the groom's responsibilities to his bride. They're pretty standard in frum engagements. Still, your friend should probably get it translated, if for no other reason than to become better acquainted with the traditions involved in Orthodoxy.

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The Ketubah will need witnesses to be legit, and its pretty standard but they should let her read it either way.

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I wouldn't wish an Israeli frum marriage on my worst enemy, but I hope your friend finds happiness. As you said, she has lived a whole other life before this, so on some level she knows what she wants. How old is her kid? Is she on board?

Why do people make aliyah without learning any Hebrew???

Edited for the kid's gender.

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I wouldn't wish an Israeli frum marriage on my worst enemy, but I hope your friend finds happiness. As you said, she has lived a whole other life before this, so on some level she knows what she wants. How old is her kid? Is she on board?

Why do people make aliyah without learning any Hebrew???

Edited for the kid's gender.

Her daughter is just turning 18. I believe she finished high school in the states via a public school online. Her daughter has a pretty good grasp of Hebrew from her years of day school and Sunday school, so she probably interprets everyday stuff for her. However, her daughter hates Israel and desperately wants to move back to the states. Not sure how that's going to end.

I am not sure what her daughter thinks of the marriage, to be honest. My son is fb friends with her, but she doesn't talk much on it. Her fiance has a gaggle of kids himself who are living in Haifa with their mom. (They are in Jerusalem)

I don't know how you could love someone enough to marry him after a few weeks, but it may be true that he is just the right guy. I totally missed the other engagement. (He ended it because she didn't call him back soon enough, as she was out of cell range. Good riddance, I would say.)

A few Israelis have commented on her facebook comment, so I don't think it's the Ketubbah. It must be a legal pre-nup. (Although there are Reform and Secular Jews in Israel who may be confused as well) I have no idea if he has anything or not, but she has been unemployed since moving there, which might account for some of her desperation. I would also guess that, even in Israel, allowing someone to sign a legal document they can not read would not fly.

I know next to nothing about Orthodox Judaism. It is quite pathetic, really. My kids went to Jewish day school because it was a damn good school (and what 6 year old boy doesn't look adorable in a kippah?), but I never cared if they were good Jews.

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I guess I kinda wonder why you'd take an almost 18 year old kid along. It's so close to the age of leaving home anyway (for college or job or whatever), seems it'd be easier to finish out school in the US (at whatever school she was at before, even if that means boarding) and then just... visit mom, or even move there herself on her own aliya if she wants, but doing it as an adult rather than tagging along with mom's.

I have to wonder, if she became a citizen and did the whole bit, is she obligated for the army now? Plus there's various benefits you get as a new immigrant, she wouldn't get them a second time if she later decided to move there as an adult... I dunno, just seems if it were me I'd wait and save my possible chance for a better time (IF I wanted to move to Israel, which is sounds like this girl doesn't want to do anyway).

Short version - she's 18 soon, can't she just move away?

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She lacks funds for a plane ticket, or at least that's what she has said on fb. (Yes, I harassed my son for info) Her bio dad lives in Southern California but he doesn't have the money to fly her back. Her mom refuses or doesn't have the money either, not sure. Dad is legitimately poor. He is on SSDI, so his daughter got money from social security, but HE never paid it. His parents have offered her a place to stay if she can get back.

I told my son to tell her to start an internet fundraiser, maybe even offer to pay people back once she gets to the states.

I think the reason she went over was because her mom has been a single mom to her for most of her life, and they are attached. The second reason is because she is a great interpreter. And she didn't know she was going to hate Israel. I am sure she saw it as a bit of an adventure.

I do kind-of feel sorry for her. She had posted pictures of her First Communion, so apparently her mom was an active Catholic before the conversion. Then they moved, she started school with my kids, and had a bat mitzvah. Then, she moved again to Texas and Florida before moving to Israel. I know military kids move a lot, but they don't have to get heavily enmeshed into new religions at the same time.

I am sure her daughter knows her mom went to Israel to get a husband. My friend talked a lot about getting married.

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An Orthodox marriage. Lots of legalities within the religion itself.

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I have to wonder, if she became a citizen and did the whole bit, is she obligated for the army now? Plus there's various benefits you get as a new immigrant, she wouldn't get them a second time if she later decided to move there as an adult... I dunno, just seems if it were me I'd wait and save my possible chance for a better time (IF I wanted to move to Israel, which is sounds like this girl doesn't want to do anyway).

Short version - she's 18 soon, can't she just move away?

If she's a US citizen getting a deferment until aging out (as a woman, at least) is quite easy. She could never achieve high clearance as a dual citizen, anyway, and it's getting easier all the time to get out of service. If she moves back to the US it'd be no problem at all, and I think women age out at 22 (although it's been a good number of years since I dealt with that nonsense, so it may have changed). Plus, frum women don't serve right now, regardless.

I don't know what benefits people get with aliyah (my family has mostly been there since Ottoman days), but she'd be eligible for universal health insurance and a cheap, quality college education if she got citizenship now.

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Better her than me, is all I can say, but I also really feel for her daughter. Going from Catholicism to Reform Judaism is one thing, but that's jarring enough for a kid without suddenly frumming out and dragging her off to Israel. Yikes.

I'm curious, did the daughter also undergo an Orthodox conversion, or was her conversion Reform? I can imagine that the latter would make things very difficult if her mother is running in entirely Orthodox circles.

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I have never understand a woman who is so crazy to get married she'll ignore all kinds of warnings and do incredibly stupid things to achieve that goal.

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I have never understand a woman who is so crazy to get married she'll ignore all kinds of warnings and do incredibly stupid things to achieve that goal.

Agree! I wonder if this happened to Kristina from (Kristina's Keepsakes)

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My kids went to Jewish day school because it was a damn good school (and what 6 year old boy doesn't look adorable in a kippah?), but I never cared if they were good Jews.

I do think a kippah is adorable on little boys. I've realized I have bit of a thing for kids in religious garb--little Muslim girls and Amish girls are so cute. I suppose I do have some concerns about requiring kids to follow the same standards adults have chosen, but still--it's cute!

About the schools, are there any Jewish schools that let non-Jewish people attend, the way Catholic schools let non-Catholics in?

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I do think a kippah is adorable on little boys. I've realized I have bit of a thing for kids in religious garb--little Muslim girls and Amish girls are so cute. I suppose I do have some concerns about requiring kids to follow the same standards adults have chosen, but still--it's cute!

About the schools, are there any Jewish schools that let non-Jewish people attend, the way Catholic schools let non-Catholics in?

Yes. My son attended a Jewish day school for three years, and we're Christian. It was a fantastic school and I loved the community there.

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She had a Conservative conversion, originally. I *think* as long as the mother converted before the child turned 13 (12 for girls) the kids are automatically considered Jewish. She did have a bat mitzvah, so maybe she had a mikveh before that to complete the conversion? I really don't know how it works outside of Reform.

I feel sorry for the daughter as well. She is a nice kid. I hope she gets back to California, if that's what she wants. This has to be overwhelming for her. She is going from an only child in the United States to having loads of step-siblings, a step-father and an entirely new culture in Israel. At least SHE can read and speak the language.

I don't get aliyah, either. I support Israel when she is behaving herself, but seriously, I would never want to live there.

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I wonder, could a pre-nup like this even hold up in court if someone signed it without having any possibility of understanding it? Yes, I know that actually taking something to court is a big expense and a lot of hassle, but it seems like if this were ever challenged it would be a pretty clear-cut case. Contracts can't possibly be valid if you can't understand what you're signing.

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She had a Conservative conversion, originally. I *think* as long as the mother converted before the child turned 13 (12 for girls) the kids are automatically considered Jewish. She did have a bat mitzvah, so maybe she had a mikveh before that to complete the conversion? I really don't know how it works outside of Reform.

If it was a Conservative conversion, that's not how it would work (well, unless the rabbi was going way off book). When a parent converts, they'll also convert the kids- mikvah dunking, beit din, et cetera. At Bar or Bat Mitzvah age, the children are then given the option to renounce Judaism- if they decide that they don't want to be Jewish anymore, it's as if the conversion never happened. If they want to remain Jewish, then they're Jewish. My understanding is that this is the same way the Orthoox handle it- not as sure about Reform, there could be more variation. But if it was a Conservative conversion, I don't think the average Orthodox rabbi in Israel would accept it as valid, meaning that they wouldn't accept the daughter as Jewish (unless she converted again with mom).

As far as the prenup, if the mom is totally frumming out, she probably wouldn't go to the secular courts for a divorce, but to a beit din, a Jewish religious court. They're the ones who handle religious divorces in Israel (because there's no such thing there as a civil marriage- you have to go to Cyprus to get one). I have no idea of how this woman's ability to understand what she was signing would work if the marriage broke down and she wound up in front of a beit din. They're not particularly known for treating women or converts especially well, from what I've heard, so I wouldn't expect much.

It's pretty awful that her daughter is more or less trapped there.

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I don't get aliyah, either. I support Israel when she is behaving herself, but seriously, I would never want to live there.

Same here!! I have an old HS classmate that has lived their for 6 years. She is moving back to the states soon though. I am still trying to figure out why she moved their in the 1st place.

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If the daughter's conversion would not be considered valid, wouldn't that mean she doesn't actually have the legal right to the whole aliyah shebang? Or did she still have it as a minor child of a convert?

I always thought of aliyah as my "backdoor option" - like, if everything really went wrong for me in the States, or I just went nuts and needed a complete change, I would go to Israel. It felt kind of nice having that option while I was still a Zionist. But...the more my politics evolve, the less I think I could ever take advantage of that.

A college boyfriend moved there right after graduation, changed his name, and joined the IDF. He was a die-hard Zionist on the search for a Jewish wife.

He is now living in Brooklyn and dating a Chinese-American woman. :)

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The signing something you can't read drives me batty. I know a number of Muslim women who signed marriage contracts written completely in Arabic while meanwhile they couldn't read a word of it. When in conversation with them a couple of weeks ago about this I did ask why you'd sign something you couldn't read and the standard reply was "I was told it was the standard stuff." and yet when I asked what standard stuff meant I got blank stares. I just don't get why anyone would sign anything they can't read. Especially something this important.

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I do think a kippah is adorable on little boys. I've realized I have bit of a thing for kids in religious garb--little Muslim girls and Amish girls are so cute. I suppose I do have some concerns about requiring kids to follow the same standards adults have chosen, but still--it's cute!

About the schools, are there any Jewish schools that let non-Jewish people attend, the way Catholic schools let non-Catholics in?

It depends on the location and the school.

IIRC, the Jewish day school in Auckland, NZ has a substantial number of non-Jewish students.

In the United States, Hebrew Charter schools are not technically Jewish day schools, and since they are part of the public school system, they are open to everyone.

My kids attend a community Jewish day school. They asked for information about the parents, and it is a private school for Jewish students, but in practice I never had to prove that I was Jewish. I'm aware of some kids who had mothers that either did not convert, or that had conversions that were not Orthodox. I suppose it's a bit of a don't ask, don't tell policy.

Some Jewish day schools are geared for specific segments of the Jewish community, and they have stricter entrance requirements including interviews with the family, to ensure that the children are Jewish and keeping a certain level of observance.

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SO...final part of the saga was she made a post today about a pre-nup that was all in Hebrew, which she can't read. She thought it was "so cute" that he told her not to worry about it and he loved her. (He told a joke about Adam Sandler coming and sweeping her away, so he had to protect himself.) I IMed her immediately and asked her to get it translated by HER lawyer before she signs it. It would be like my fiance giving me a document in German and telling me he loved me. No way would I sign it. She just said if she doesn't sign it, he won't marry her.

Red light flashing warning right here. This is just so wrong.

He's basically asking her to totally trust him because he "loves" her, yet he doesn't trust her and has taken care to have a pre-nup prepared to protect himself. He's not being open and honest with her. He's discouraging her from asking really basic questions, and making it sound like she'd be doubting him if she wanted answers. Her head is in the clouds, and she has NO IDEA what she is getting into. Sometimes, quick marriages work in the frum world (I know of some successful ones), but they usually involve people from similar backgrounds who have checked each other out. She's a convert, she's doing this in another country, and she's vulnerable as hell.

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