Jul 25, 2008

So you want to be a Jew?

Okay, I want to start a dialogue. This dialogue is going to be based on a Metafilter post, and by clicking on this link, you can read all the comments and responses. What I want to know, is your take on it. Essentially, the user is asking whether -- as a secular atheist -- he/she can convert to Judaism. The user says " I feel absolutely ripped off that I was not born a Jew, and I want to be one." The religious aspect does not appeal at all to this person, and it seems a lot of the commenters believe it is and can be a valid conversion into the culture. Now, my initial response is "That's like wanting to convert to become Chinese or Indian or Aboriginal or Eskimo." Like waking up one day and deciding you're African-American or something, simply because you're fond of the culture, language quips and lifestyle. I do have one friend, a self-proclaimed athiest who did convert to Judaism not too long ago, and I try to avoid the topic in conversation as it seems like a contradiction (he dons tefillin and goes to shul).

As a convert myselef, I have to tred carefully because I have no right or need to say anyone shouldn't convert for whatever reasons ... but it seems to me that if all that interests you is the culture, you really haven't spent much time analyzing the possibilities, the process, or Judaism in general.

So take a gander at the link, and let's talk, shall we?


Nemo said...

He certainly couldn't get by an Orthodox Beth Din. The whole basis of the conversion is accepting belief in G-d and the Mitzvos.

Christopher said...

no meaningful content--but I'm now mentally singing your title question to the tune of a Glenn Gould bit.



Sam said...

I assure you this dude definitely could not get past a Conservative Beit Din either. Belief in God? Mitzvot? Keeping a kosher kitchen? Circumcision? Yeah, not gonna happen in the USCJ.


Schvach said...

I hate to suspect that this person
equates Judaism with atheism or

Shimshonit said...

I read most of the comments people wrote. (Fifty-something was just too much sitting and reading for me.) I thought Meathead (or whatever the guy's name was) didn't present a very convincing case for conversion, but neither did most of the arguments challenging him really satisfy (e.g. "You can't convert to an ethnic group). The writers who suggested he apply some introspection to why he wants to convert (rather than just hang out with Jews) were probably onto something.

Incidentally, I never had to answer the question, "Do you believe in God?" I think it was assumed by the Orthodox beit din that I wouldn't bother if I didn't.

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