Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy (1 September 2017, 10 Elul, 5777)
How common is it for converts to Judaism to regret their conversion?
In Israel more than 90% of converts do not live as religious Jews. They mostly never intended to. This figure is however inflated due to the higher proportion of Russian Immigrants among the prospective converts. The Government and Establishment wants as many as possible of the non-Russian immigrants to Israel to become formally Jews.
Without the Russians the figure who remain religious is about 15%.
This is still very bad from a religious point of view.
From a sociological perspective it may be said that conversion to Judaism reflects a desire to join the Jewish People.
Since only ca. 20% of the Jews in Israel are observant religiously then a slightly lower figure for converts is what is to be expected.
Do they regret their conversion?
I heard a claim from a convert that most of those converts who are not religious are that way because they fail to find spiritual satisfaction in Judaism.
If true this would mean that they regretted becoming Jews.
The source of this information was however a kind of somewhat frustrated Christian so he is not reliable.
I myself had some experience with converts since:
a. I teach about the Ten Tribes being at least in part among Western Peoples. Many converts find this of interest and therefore communicate with me.
Among the Anglophone and related community in Israel converts are not uncommon.
b. One way or other over about 40 years at least 40 converts or prospective converts must have made a more than passing acquaintance with me.
c. I once interviewed for a magazine a Rabbi who worked for the Rabbinate. One of his tasks was to follow in depth the religious observance of converts for informational purposes only.
d. One of my close friends worked with converts and still does.
Most of those I met were religious to some degree, sometimes very much so.
A few had converted with their families. They had remained but members of their family had not. This evidently reflected dissatisfaction. Sometimes however other factors are involved. Some of them in general accepted Judaism as a religion but socially found it difficult to fit it. Jews in Israel also often face similar problems.
A few still had some kind of hankering after Christianity but mostly eventually abandoned it.
Very case is different.
In general the better the Jews are the better the converts will become.
If Israeli society wants converts and wishes them to become genuinely Jewish then it too will have to become more so.
Comment by Israel Mair Rafae (Israel Meyer)l:
I could talk a lot about this but is short when Am Israel is confident and spiritually ascendant then converts are welcome and accepted. When Am Israel is burdened with self doubt then converts are seen as an unwelcome affliction. The test of the above is defining how many converts > 25 years are socially integrated or isolated. IMHO orthodox sex abuse scandals and lack of rabbinic leadership have caused much angst and unhappiness. Israel is different because of holiness and physical danger.