How can I politely establish my bona fides for making up a minyan?
My background: my mother was born in Hannover, Germany, in 1930, in a relatively secularized Jewish family. (Of course, at that time most German Jews were secularized.) Her parents fled with Mom and her sister and came to the US in 1941. Her grandmother and aunt died in the camps.
My father was raised in a Protestant family, but is a quiet atheist, and when my sister and I were small, the family went to a Unitarian church. Although we were told that Mom’s family was Jewish, and that we were therefore Jewish according to tradition, we did not keep kosher or observe any Jewish religious or cultural practices. It wasn’t until I had a Jewish friend in high school that I began to learn about such things. I consider myself an atheist.
Eighteen months ago I married a Conservative Jewish woman who had a strict Orthodox conversion 30 years ago and who has been teaching in Jewish schools since then. Since we’ve been together, I’ve observed that she is far more knowledgeable about Jewish history, tradition, and practice than many born Jews. Needless to say, I have learned a great deal about Judaism in that time.
Finally to the reason for this post. The other night we attended a* sheva brachot* (one of seven post-wedding dinners held for a bride and groom by their friends) at a strictly Orthodox home. Before dinner, the men gathered for prayers, and although I can’t read Hebrew, I joined them. But before they started, the leader (I don’t know if he was a rabbi or not), looked around and said that one of us didn’t count. He made a point of not looking at me, and everyone else was confused, but he apparently assumed from my appearance that I had converted or was in the process. They sent one of the boys to a neighbor to get a tenth man to make up the minyan.
What should I have done?