Date: June 18, 2017 08:47AM
> If you're a convert, technically you can
> choose your minhag...
I am a convert. ["Minhag" means tradition, and specifically for the purposes of this thread, Sephardi tradition or Ashkenazi tradition.]
> ...but converts usually have a
> mishmash of either customs.
True in general [depending on many other factors: the tradition you convert within...the specifically Jewish geographical area you live in (comes down to neighborhoods in New York, but in Southern California not so much)...the ethnicity of you or your spouse...or what you feel is the true, inner, "you"...what tradition you want to raise your children in...what shuls you have practical access to on Shabbat and Jewish holidays...perhaps close personal connections (friends, etc.)...]
...and true for me, too.
Most of my conversion class was (in the terms we are speaking about here) choosing the Ashkenazi minhag, but we also had several people choosing the Sephardi minhag (with additional choosing for ethnicity: Iranian Jews for example, because we have [relatively] lots of Iranian Jews in Los Angeles, but also some other ethnicities as well (I'm pretty sure someone was converting into the Syrian "sub-minhag," as it were, and there were also a few people who, for various reasons, were converting into a kind of generic "minhag" for various reasons: racial intermarriage, or---at the time I converted---they were gay, and were affiliating with one of the gay shuls which existed at that time, and I don't know if these still exist anymore.
Our first night of classes, each of us was handed a complete list of all of the synagogues in what I assume was the greater Los Angeles area (each with minhag, etc. identifications), and told that our overall assignment, beginning with the upcoming Shabbat, was shul shopping: to visit all of those shuls on that list which were interesting to us, and gradually decide which one/ones we felt were, to us, "home."
Some of us already knew what shul we would be affiliating with...most of us didn't. Minhag was important to some of us (I am thinking specifically of the couples here, where one person in the couple was already Jewish, and the other person was becoming a Jew)...not that important to others of us.
Some of us didn't even know what "minhag" (not just the word...the CONCEPT) was when our conversion classes began---generally, they thought that Ashkenazis were the only Jews on the planet, and that Yiddish was the only Jewish language that existed.
For many in our class, that very long list of synagogues we were handed on our first night of classes was the real beginning of their Jewish learning.
P.S. Isn't it true that at least some born Jews effectively change their minhag? Think of Ashkenazi/Sephardi marriages (or Ethiopian/Ashkenazi or Ethiopian/Sephardi marriages in Israel), for example, and how an "intermarried" couple not only chooses to live their married life united, as a couple, but additionally makes the choice to raise their children in a specific minhag (which would be different from one of the parents)...
...and I'm pretty sure that there are rabbis who "changed their minhag" during the process of them becoming rabbis.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2017 08:58AM by Tevai.