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Child of the New comer

Gila Arnold

The Torah implores us to accept converts with open arms. But what about their children? Do they feel accepted by the community? Three children of geirim share their triumphs and tribulations and how their mothers’ sacrifice has strengthened their own Jewish identity.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Last December, our Shabbos guests — a group of yeshivah bochurim — were discussing inyana d’yoma: the origin of the custom in certain communities not to learn Torah the night of nittel nacht. Suddenly, one of the bochurim announced, “My grandmother gives me presents for nittel nacht.” We looked at him, wondering if this was some kind of minhag we hadn’t been aware of. A moment later, it clicked. His grandmother is Christian. For a regular, frum child whose mother or father happens to be a convert, nittel nacht presents are just a small part of the merging of two clashing worlds. His parent may be the one who made the calculated, life-altering decision to join the Jewish People, but, while he reaps the benefits, he’s also left to navigate challenges foreign to the typical FFB child. 

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