Coming Out of the Convert Closet

If you follow this blog’s Facebook page, or have read my Of Interest posts, you’ll see that I’ve shared posts from Hevria more than a few times. This community of Jewish creators is such a great space, and, full disclosure, I was super bummed to not be a part of it when it started.

But then they opened it up to guest posts, and I was all “oh, no, no, no, no, I can’t. What if they say no? Then I might be sad.”

So I didn’t submit. Until I did. And they said yes.

I submitted a post that had been knocking around in my head for maybe a year. It was something I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share. It was so personal, and I felt like it was also a little bit of a critique of frum society, which isn’t something I usually do. There are enough people who do it on the internet, what would my story add to it? But over the course of the year, I began to understand that there is power in narrative, and that there might be value in sharing this experience.

You can read it here.

If you’re coming here from Hevria, you might like to start with this post. Or do whatever you want. That’s cool too.

4 thoughts on “Coming Out of the Convert Closet

  1. Rivki!

    What a wonderful, powerful piece you’ve created! I have to tell you, I despise secrets of any kind. I’m pretty much an open book, and I don’t think we’re supposed to feel ashamed about things that we have worked hard to achieve, about things that make us who we are. You worked hard to become a Jew and are more scholarly than most Jews who were born Jewish. Teach your children about the importance of following their passions, even if these passions lead them in unfamiliar directions. As long as they are not physically or emotionally hurting someone else, it seems to me this is precisely where we find G-d.

    I have been considering writing a puce about how my husband didn’t express any affection to me for the last 10 years of our marriage. No touching. No cuddling. No hand on my back. Not sharing the same bed. I have been sitting on this secret, and it hurts…it makes me feel like I’m the only one out there.

    And yet.

    I’m sure there are many women like me: women craving intimacy and connection. I pray that one day I will find that with someone.

    I share this to say that I’m proud of you for sharing something scary, and I hope the responses have been positive. I don’t feel I can share this piece of my story because it implicates Mark, and I wouldn’t want to embarrass or emasculate him…but living my life as a physically, emotionally & spiritually neglected person has taken a toll on me.

    Thank you for letting me share.

    Have a beautiful day.

    Please excuse any errors. This message was sent from my wireless thingamajiggy.


    1. You are such a beautiful human being, Renee, thank you so much for the encouragement. And I couldn’t agree more with this thing you said “I don’t think we’re supposed to feel ashamed about things that we have worked hard to achieve, about things that make us who we are.” So so true.

      I’m so sorry you have this secret, and that that secret was your life, your pain, for so long. I want to reach through the computer and give you a hug right now. I hope you will find that intimacy with someone, someone who will not hesitate for a moment to show you in those little physical ways that they love you.

      And I agree that it’s a tricky position to be in. Writing about it could really be so healing for women who are going through a similar thing. But, as you said, you wouldn’t want to write something about Mark that would cause embarrassment. Maybe with time it will become something more accessible. It’s still so fresh.

      You can always share with me. Always.
      Much love

  2. Hey, Rivki! I enjoyed your piece about being a convert. I’m glad you don’t feel the need to hide who you are. My husband and I are both converts, and have always been very open about it, and while I can’t speak for my husband, I actually got some push back for it. A few people even pulled me aside back in my single days and warned me that I’m going to have a hard time dating if people know I’m a convert, which seemed like the strangest bit of advice. I mean, isn’t the guy going to meet my family eventually? Did this person expect me to completely overhaul my identity and past? Odd. But I was bugged by it more because people said this stuff–and thankfully it was the extreme minority who said such things–as if I should be ashamed. Yet we have so many examples of converts who are held up as shining examples of goodness and bravery and loyalty. Thankfully, the vast, vast majority of people in the Jewish community have been so loving, and so warm, and so free of any kind of judgement. Anyway, I’m rambling. I hope that more people speak up and embrace who they are. Maybe it’ll make it the normal that it should already be. Thanks for your words! Hope all is well!

    1. I remember having a discussion with you about this stuff back when I was still in the closet. My experience also has been overwhelmingly positive, and the more positive experiences I had, the more I wondered what people were trying to, ostensibly, protect me from.

      Ruth also had a little difficulty with shidduchim, but at the end of the day, the guy who wouldn’t marry her got recorded as Ploni Almoni. I think that should be enough of a cautionary tale for people, but I guess some people need reminding! Hahaha!

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