Experts Speak

How Can We Raise Awareness in the Jewish Community for the Unique Issues Facing Jews-by-Choice?

Editors Note: The following is a guest post by friend and supporter of Paul Golin, Associate Executive Director of the Jewish Outreach Institute. I recently posted an essay on the Huffington Post about the complicated relationship between intermarriage and Jewish conversion.  In it, I mention just a few of the challenges that many Jews-by-choice face in their interaction with born-Jews.  I have a sense of what some of the other challenges might be, thanks to my position as … [Read more…]

The Choice to Include by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The following is a guest feature by Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, California. There is one moment that stands out as the most sublime in a rabbi’s work.  It is an encounter with a person at their most vulnerable, most open, most hopeful and afraid:  the moment before immersing in a mikvah upon affirming a Jewish identity.  It is an intense and unforgettable experience of fragile ecstasy. Born Jews are blessed, tradition tells us.  But even … [Read more…]

The Mitzvah of Conversion by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis

The following is a guest feature by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. As far as intermarriage is concerned, the surest antidote is anti semitism. Anti-semites don’t want anything to do with Jews. They want to keep them our of their neighborhoods, out of their businesses, out of their recreational clubs. Anti-semites don’t want to marry Jews. In an anti-semitic society, intermarriage and mixed marriage are no serious problems. In recent polls 87% … [Read more…]

A Convert Laments the Rotem Bill

An early morning on what will surely become another sweltering day in Los Angeles … the haze beginning to clear. Erev Tisha B’Av, 5770 … the eve of destruction … . Sitting in my study, just off the phone from another not infrequent conversation with an Israeli friend, my usual black kippah srugah with its blue-and-white-patterned border slightly askew atop my thinning hair, I probe our texts pondering the events of the last week.  Thirty-plus years of my own Jewish life flash … [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…]