Andrea Karshan's Articles, Converts, Islamophobia, Jewish

Struggles of Being an Ex-Muslim Jewish Convert

Being an ex-Muslim Jewish convert is hard. There are always Jews questioning if you are really Jewish and what your intentions are. And the Islamophobia that I have received from some Jews has been unbelievable. It seems like when they hear that I am an ex-Muslim all their complaints about Islam come out.

I remember when I was converting.. I did two conversions. First, I did an Orthodox conversion. And then I did a giyur le’chumra.  Both times, I hid who I was converting with. Because there were some Jews that were determined to stop an ex-Muslim from becoming halachically Jewish. They didn’t care that I keep Kosher, am Shomer Shabbat or that I am an active and giving member of my Jewish community. All they saw was my Muslim past. And that caused me to have a lot of online harassment before and after my conversion to Judaism. I had to block hundreds of Jews on social media who would attack me for being an ex-Muslim. These attacks would include posting Islamophobic messages and old pictures of me in Islamic garb, and threats to report me to my rabbis, other Jewish authorities, or to ruin my reputation.

Once I became halachically Jewish, things got easier. The online harassment continues. And Shiddichim is very hard.  But most Jews who have met me in person have accepted me. But some comments that I sometimes hear from people that I think are my friends are very hurtful. I don’t even think that Jews think they are being Islamophobic. I think they truly think that their comments are ok. And that their Islamophobia isn’t Islamophobia because they feel it is a reaction to antisemitism therefore it is justified. Jews when hearing I am an ex-Muslim tend to get diarrhea of the mouth and tell me everything they think is wrong with the Muslim world. Having me in the room causes people to go on tangents about Islam and Muslims. Unless I think they are open to listening to some truth and facts, I try not to respond. Cause if I do, they will just keep going. I have realized that some people you can’t change their minds no matter how much truth you tell them. If you can’t have a constructive conversation on these types of things, it is better just to end the conversation. And honestly, I wish that people would understand that me being an ex-Muslim doesn’t mean I am here for you to dump all your complaints about Muslims and Islam on. I really don’t want to hear it.

Also, more often than not when I am arguing with a Jew online or in person, if they are struggling to win the argument or have run out of constructive things to say and are now going for personal attacks the dagger that they throw is the ex-Muslim stuff. I can’t count the amount of times me being an ex-Muslim has been brought up online by Jews to try to make others question my credibility. These attacks try to make it look like I am somehow less of a person and less of a Jew because of my past affiliation with Islam.

And the questions about my Jewishness still arise. Recently a woman called a Rabbi on my references for Shiddichim and no matter how many times he told her I am a Kosher convert she wouldn’t accept that answer. She kept asking him about my Muslim past and my Muslim kids. It seems so hard for some people to believe that the Rabbis would convert an ex-Muslim. But why not? If an ex-Christian can convert, why not an ex-Muslim?

I have a friend who is also an ex-Muslim Jewish convert. Like me she is one of the few ex-Muslim Jewish converts in the Orthodox Jewish world in New York. She says because she is scared she will face Islamophobia like I do she hides that her family is Muslim. No one knows except her husband. She says she hates to do that. But she knows that if she wants to be accepted by the community that’s what she has to do.

It’s sad that some converts feel that they have to hide who they were because they are scared of being discriminated against. No one should have to hide their past or their family. I choose to be very public about my past and family. But it has come with consequences. And it has made my life more difficult. So, I understand those who choose not to. But it is awful that it has to be that way. And it is tragic that some in the Jewish world are so Islamophobic and can’t just accept a Jew as a Jew and look past the Muslim part of their life.

6 Comments

  1. Leah Amdur

    How old are you? Would you be interested in living standards in Israel? I know a 36 year old Israeli man is looking for a shiduch

    Reply
  2. Carole Weinstein

    Your past is your past, and it does not have to be made known to anyone. It’s no one’s business what you were, or weren’t, before you underwent your Halachic conversion(s). Most Orthodox Jews I know don’t even begin to understand the intricacies of conversation, so why should it ever be brought up in the first place? Most rabbis don’t even want it made known who the converts are in their kehillah.

    Reply
  3. Yisroel773

    Andrea, I am so sorry to read all of this. I know some Muslims who had halachic conversions and even a Muslim who was halchically Jewish and aside from a few stupid remarks here and there (the same type of ribbing that they would get if they were Russians) they are fully accepted into the community.

    I cannot even imagine under what circumstances an Orthodox Jew would not accept an Orthodox conversion and harass the ger or geyoris or how they feel that would be acceptable behavior.

    In the past, I have had some questions about a convert or two who went outside the typical communal process, but I never voiced an opinion on these matters as it was not my place and I put aside any questions or reservations as soon as I saw my Rabbi had none of those questions or reservations. I see no reason why anyone should treat you are any other ger/geyores differently.

    As for Islamophobic comments, I can see why some Jews dislike some Muslims. It is hard to show much love for people who for the most part don’t love you. This is a generalization of course and in all generalization there are going to be exceptions. Over the years, I have become friends with many Muslims and I have found what we share is a mutual respect for each other. I have found that I have love in my heart for people of all faiths, as long as their predominant attribute is also love and acceptance of others. I have no tolerance for anyone who is intolerant of others, regardless of their faith.

    People should not be coming up to you and unloading all of their frustrations and complaints about Muslims. You are not the representative of that people and religion. It is obvious that you also had some issues, otherwise you wouldn’t have converted.

    It is not OK for them to unload, but it should be OK for people who know to respectfully seek your guidance and insight since you have knowledge of matter that they do not. For instance, during the riots in Ferguson, MO I asked a black convert for their insight into this and the BLM, etc. I wanted to see how someone with insight into these matters views them so I could make sure my own views weren’t too far out of line. I asked questions and graciously received the answers. I did not posit my own views unless I was asked. I have many other black friends I could have spoken with, but only a few that had the insight of being both black and Jewish. Speaking with them on this subject was extremely valuable to me, not as a dumping ground for my own opinion, but as a source of unique insight into matters in which I did not have much personal experience.

    So, while I don’t know you or your situation, might it be possible to re-direct some of these complaints into the form of questions, so you can share your insights in a positive and constructive manner? If you are able to do this, it might help you and at the same time better inform them. I wish you all of the best in this.

    Reply
  4. RACHEL GREENBERG

    She should take the word Islamophobia out of her vocab and I’d be more open to accepting her as “one of us”. And, why is she defending Islam at all? Muslims are by and large anti semitic. If she wants to be part of the Jewish people, then she needs to leave Islam totally and completely behind. She has Muslim children? And, when she says “when I am arguing with a Jew online or in person” etc. she is separating herself as “other” instead of saying arguing with another Jew, meaning she’s in the same group and not “other”.

    When it comes to Muslims and Israel, why would she have any argument? If she is defending Hamas or the PA or saying most Muslims are peaceful bla bla bla, then she should watch the video that I recently saw on this group about asking the average “peace loving” Arab on the street if the West Bank and Gaza were called Palestine and every single Israel were gone – total autonomy, would there be peace? And, the answer was NO. They want the whole enchilada.

    We have a muslim convert in our community and she is not vilified or looked down on at all. She does not even relate to having ever been muslim. And, that is how a true convert is supposed to feel. To feel that being a Jew is their true identity and what happened before was the neshema found its way into the wrong body.

    If whoever reads this is not part of an orthodox Jewish community, I’m not interested in your comments because you are not part of the dialogue here. Andrea, you are either Muslim or Jewish, you can’t be both.

    Reply
  5. Avi Ibrahim Balser

    Shuloim Aleichem, As salamu aleiykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh my dear Yiddisher sister.

    Your writing has me in tears 😿 imagining the pain from the moronic Islamophobia you have been experiencing.

    I am one of the very sadly rare Chassidisher Jews, raised in Williamsburg and Boro Park who has many Muslim friends, and is as comfortable in a masjid as in shul.

    For so many centuries Jews and Muslims got along very well, and so many times the Muslims saved our butts from the Christians who were murdering us.

    It is those Christians (their leaders) who always wanted to “eliminate” the Jews then only a little more than a century ago woke up to the exponential growth of Islam, felt threatened by it and have been intentionally trying to foment hatred between Jews and Muslims for many selfish reasons. They took advantage of the mistake both Jews and Muslims make of never teaching or learning about the “others” to teach Muslims lies about the Jews, and teach Jews lies about Muslims.

    The foolish lies Jews believe about Islam and Muslims is beyond ridiculous. Jews are extremely ignorant about Islam and Muslims, actually believing all Muslims want us dead.

    The reality is, once Jews and Muslims meet and learn the truth about each other, they become good friends.

    So it is this crazy fear that “All Muslims want us dead” that make it hard to believe in the sincerity of a Muslim convert to Judaism.

    Just so you know many Jews have reservations about all converts, until they see them live a Frum life for about five years, because many conversations are marriage motivated, instead of l’shame shomayim, and also more than 3/4 of even Orthodox conversions are invalid.

    As you know true Halakhic Giyur is far more complicated than taking the Shahada, and living a Frum Jewish life is far more detailed, complicated, and intrusive than living as a Frum Muslimah. It is far more difficult than a convert ever imagines before conversion.

    Sadly, Jewish reverts to Islam often face some of the same issues of mistrust. Until they get to know the revert.

    About five years ago I told my friends and mishpacha that I was going to visit Malaysia, with plans to be there for over two years.

    You should see the crazy panic on their faces. They all warned me, “That is a Muslim country. When they see a Jew there, they will behead you!” They really believed that insanity.

    The biggest problem facing a giyeres from Islam is sure to be the challenge of finding a shiduch.
    This problem applies to all Jews, much more to all Converts to Judaism, and I am sure even 10 times harder for a Muslimah who converts to Judaism.

    By now you have noticed that one of the biggest problems in the frum Jewish community is the shiduch crisis.

    While I truly do understand the reasons for the extreme selectivity, it has gone so far as to be the most important thing in a single Jew’s life. Many Jewish people reject candidates for a shidduch strictly because of something the candidate’s aunt or uncle did in the past, believe it or not. They don’t want their sons or daughters to marry into a family that is not perfect. So you can imagine what they think of marrying a convert whose family is not even Jewish. Multiply that 10 times if the family is Muslim! Lol

    I’m laughing because I think it is so ignorant and crazy in a way, but I know it is not a laughing matter to the person going through this.

    All I can say is daven and make dua for sabr, and understand that it does take time for them to get to know you and trust you because of all the above things. They are not bad people. It is just as I said earlier 95% of the Jews or more are extremely ignorant regarding Islam and Muslims.

    May HaShem Yisborach /Allah, Subhanahu wa ta’ala, guide you, and protect you.
    (Lol, I just realized that most Jews would not even understand how I could possibly write “HaShem Yisborach /Allah, Subhanahu wa ta’ala” – that one phrase would be inconceivable to them, LOL)

    Welcome to the tribe, my dear Jewish sister. 😃😃😃

    Reply

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