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Vered’s Story: Chapter 17  

I mentioned a non-Jewish relative in passing, and he said, disdainfully, “We also have some goyim in the family”



the years went by, I grew accustomed to dating as a giyores and developed a good sense of humor. In the meantime, I was working extremely hard toward my law degree. I threw myself into school, doing very well, but leaving little time for dating escapades and judgmental do-gooders. My mother and I grew closer, and discussed society’s view of my status at length, recognizing it as an unfortunate reality.

That’s not to say I didn’t have my fair share of experiences. I was in shidduchim, after all.

Like the guy who turned me down, then a year later gave a yes. We sat in a café and desperately tried to keep a conversation going. I nursed my hot chocolate; he sipped his coffee. I was trying to keep an open mind, trying to accept his apparent quirkiness, trying to look past the high-pitched, nervous laughter that punctuated his sentences.

His mother was a baalas teshuvah, so we found ourselves discussing our backgrounds. I mentioned a non-Jewish relative in passing, and he said, disdainfully, “We also have some goyim in the family.”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 950)

I prickled, taken aback and uncomfortable with his disrespectful wording. My thoughts flew to my beloved maternal grandmother; a non-Jew, yes, but not someone I would want referred to with the same word we use to refer to the cursed goyim who tried to destroy us in every generation. After spending more time together, I picked up on a lot of unpleasant, negative attitudes, and I turned him down.

On another occasion, I went out with a guy who’d also converted at a young age. He’d been adopted by a frum couple as a baby, so he’d undergone conversion when he was even younger than I was when I converted.

I was interested in his experience and wanted to hear about it, but he seemed weirded out by that. He made it clear that he didn’t want to think about his past or where he had come from. Having spent my entire childhood thinking about this topic, I was surprised that he’d want to avoid thinking about it completely. He seemed uncomfortable with the fact that I wanted to talk about it in the first place, so I dropped the subject. Subsequently, we both dropped the shidduch entirely. It seems the feelings were mutual.

On another memorable occasion, my FFB date exclaimed, “You know, I’d never guess you’re a convert. You’re so normal!” I know he meant it as a compliment, but it stung. What was he expecting, an English-language Bible tucked into a waist pouch? It felt almost as insulting as telling a person with a learning disability that you’d never guess they were learning challenged because they “looked so normal.” What would you want him to look like?

And I’ll never forget the time I participated in an evening for “older singles” (25 and up). It was actually a lovely experience, with good food, a great speaker, and friendly women to schmooze with.

I didn’t know some of the women, and they didn’t know me, and I almost swallowed my mini mushroom onion quiche whole when one of the participants announced flippantly, “You know, since I turned 25, the shadchanim only offer me ‘damaged goods.’ You know, divorcés, people with all these health issues, mental health issues, baalei teshuvah, and geirim. It’s like now that I’m, gasp, halfway through my twenties, I don’t deserve a normal spouse.” She gave an exaggerated eye roll and I tried to breathe through my nose.

It took effort to return to my quiche, Greek salad, and ice coffee with equanimity. To remind myself that whatever people called it, whatever others thought, I was a giyores and a proud, kosher Jew. And a focused, growth-oriented Jew at that.

Damaged goods. Right.

I couldn’t help but wonder which one of us would make a better, kinder, more accepting spouse.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 950)

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