April 25, 2006
In this issue we share a wide variety of perspectives on conversion, from spouses who have converted, to rabbis who have sponsored converts, to Jewish leaders who think it's the "answer" to intermarriage.
In I Am a Jew , Ellen Bernstein shares what it's like for her now that she's converted: "It means forgetting to breathe as I look with awe at the wonder and beauty of God's creations."
But conversion isn't always as magical a transformation. Now that Bonni Goldberg's husband is Jewish, she's struggling with not being the only Jew in the house--and wonders why her husband doesn't know when to put on a yarmulke. SeeTrue Confessions from a Convert's Wife .
Meanwhile, Gina Hagler has converted but is wary of the Reform movement's new initiative to invite non-Jewish spouses to become Jewish. "I know that if I had encountered anything that seemed to be an expectation or agenda for me to convert, I would have curtailed my participation long before I reached my decision to convert," she says. Read more in A Jew-by-Choice's Thoughts on the Reform Movement's Initiative to Invite Conversion, Plus Interviews with Others .
And for Gail Michaels, coming to Judaism meant abandoning her family's long heritage in the Catholic church--and finding a new spiritually rewarding heritage in the synagogue, in Elaine Markowitz's The Turning Point .
Also in this issue:
In A Service of Welcoming and Inclusion: Welcoming a Jew-by-Choice without Alienating Non-Jews , Rabbi Lev Baesh shares the story of "Simcha," a born Catholic whose Muslim Sufi guide told her to stick with the Torah.
In The Hour: Opening a Door to Secular Judaism , Leonard Fein wonders why there isn't a way for non-Jews to join the Jewish people but not the religion. There is, says Miriam Jerris of the Secular Humanistic Jewish movement, in Opening Our Gates and Arms: Adopting Judaism, Adopting Jews . It's called "adoption," not "conversion," and it's more about identification and study than it is about religious observance.
All converts are not created equal, says the author and sponsors of a new study on conversion. Read Rachel Silverman's New Study Raises Key Question: How to Promote Activist Converts?
Even the Orthodox are starting to reconsider their attitudes on conversion, according to Larry Luxner's Open Orthodox Conversion to Intermarried Couples, Urges Group .
On our discussion board , we ask, "If you want to have Jewish kids, does your partner have to convert?" We'd like to know what you think.
In our March 14 issue we reprinted an essay by our publisher from the New Jersey Jewish News , and his follow-up letter to the editor concerning the views of sociologist Steven M. Cohen. In this issue, we reprint Professor Cohen's response. See Letter to the Editor of New Jersey Jewish News, Responding to Edmund Case .
I'd also like to take this moment to introduce myself and say how excited I am to be working with InterfaithFamily.com. I'm the new online managing editor, and Ronnie Friedland and I will work closely together to produce the most interesting, illuminating Web Magazine we can offer.
Please come back for our next issue on May 9, on interfaith families and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
Micah Sachs, Online Managing Editor
Write for us! Topics: Handling Negative Comments and Outreach Success Stories
We're looking for writers on two topics:
1) How do you handle it when your kids hear negative things about intermarriage? What do you do when you hear negative things about intermarriage?
2) Are you an outreach success story? Do you know one? Do you know of a person working in interfaith outreach who has made a difference?
If you would like to write for us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connections In Your Area--Featured Organization
The URJ (Reform movement) – Northeast Region’s programs for interfaith couples are designed to strengthen understanding and communication about issues that are common to many interfaith relationships, such as raising children in an interfaith family, celebrating family holidays, and staying close to both of your extended families. These groups are very supportive to both partners in an interfaith relationship and offer an opportunity to meet other interfaith couples and learn how they face these important, yet complex, issues.
View Events, including the upcoming "Reclaiming Mikveh" conference June 4-6.