Amy Dickinson: Boy should talk to his folks before converting

Ask Amy:

February 16, 2014 

Dear Amy: I am a 12-year-old boy in a strict Italian Catholic family.

Recently I have been reading lots of Jewish texts. I want to start conversion to Judaism after my 13th birthday in March, but I don’t think my parents will be supportive. I haven’t actually brought it up yet.

Should I say anything, or should I hold my peace until moving out of the house in five years? Honestly, I don’t think it can wait that long.

There is a burden on my heart that can only be eased by freedom to worship at a temple, celebrating Shabbat and keeping kosher. Whenever I make the slightest reference about Judaism my mom says, “You’re not Jewish, so stop talking about it!”

Recently I tried celebrating a Jewish holiday and my brothers and sisters teased me. .

I have thought deeply about this for a long time — almost a year. What do you think I should do? How would I go about telling them (if that is the right idea)?


Dear Confused: Your parents are already aware of your interest in Judaism, and I hope they choose to support this important spiritual journey. If it is possible for you to do so, you should meet with your local rabbi to find out about the process of conversion and to gather his wisdom about how to approach this with your folks. You could also seek to speak with your youth pastor or parish priest.

At some point you are going to have to speak with your parents about this. You should start the process by asking them, seriously and sincerely: “I would like to explore converting to Judaism. Will you support me in doing this?” Asking them outright: “Will you support this?” may prompt a “yes.”

If they dismiss your effort at conversion, you may be able to get them to compromise by allowing you to attend Jewish services without converting.

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