Becoming Jewish

Rabbi Chaya: My journey to Judaism

My journey to Judaism began when I was 16 years old. At that time, I was a practicing Methodist and I was very involved in my church. I was a member of the youth group and the choir, attended Sunday school and worship services every week, and volunteered to work every fundraiser. One of the songs I used to sing in the choir was an old time gospel entitled, “Yes I Know.”     Come, ye sinners, lost and hopeless, Jesus’ blood can make you free; For He saved the worst among … [Read more…]

The Long Road – Tara’s Conversion Story

Jews and Jewish tradition were always a positive part of my life. I went to school in an area where many Jews lived. This demographic reality was celebrated, and I spun dreidels as part of my secular second grade curriculum. When I was 12 or so, my mom discovered that the man her mother had married was not her biological father. Mom was half Jewish, and this revelation ushered in a new world of boisterous, opinionated Orthodox Jewish cousins, aunts, and half-brothers who sounded and acted just … [Read more…]

Turning Aside: A Little Bit of Sacrifice

I’d originally planned to post the first installment of a three-part “How I Came to Judaism” essay this week, but yesterday’s parsha, Va Yerah, inspired me to write instead about notions of sacrifice, reconstitution, and death. (Regular Tablet Magazine readers may note that the William Blake watercolor that illustrates this post was recently featured there, illustrating “Counter Revelations,” a nice introductory piece by Adam Kirsch about Robert Alter’s new translation of the Hebrew “Wisdom … [Read more…]

Conversion to Judaism: Fact and Fiction

Fiction: Orthodox Judaism is a “higher” or “more serious” level of Judaism than Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist and that, therefore, an Orthodox conversion is a “higher” or “more serious” level of conversion. Fact: Of all the fictions about the process of converting to Judaism, this is perhaps the most insidious.  For many people, the reality that an Orthodox Jewish worldview and lifestyle does not feel authentic to who they are leads them to avoid conversion … [Read more…]

Turning Aside: The Burning Bush

Thank you, Avi, for the opportunity you’ve granted me to contribute to on a regular basis.  I hope that “Turning Aside (אסרה)” will resonate with readers and will provoke thoughtful discussion. The name “Turning Aside” references Exodus 3:3, part of the famous episode in which Moses, while tending his flock of sheep on Mount Horeb, experiences revelation in the form of a burning bush. “Moses said to himself, ‘I must turn aside to see this … [Read more…]