This past week, the New York Times had an article about people who have already converted to Judaism a/o people in the process of converting to Judaism and the problems they face at Christmas time. The article was actually fairly sensitively written, but, at the same time, was written by someone with no knowledge of the rules of Judaism and about people for whom conversion to Judaism was based less on behavior and more on some nebulous sense of spirituality.

For people who convert to Judaism, Christmas is a tough time. Do you go to your Christian family’s celebration? What do you eat? Do you give them presents? Do they give you Chanukah presents or Christmas presents? For newbies to the Tribe, how do we help them adjust to life without the tree? And make no mistake about it- WE have a responsibility to those people.

The article dealt with people who did not convert to an orthoprax life style. Right off the bat, that means that there are many of us who will deny the validity of the conversion in the first place. One family highlighted in the story invited the Christian mother to their Jewish home and invited other people who had converted to Judaism to join with them also. The born Jewish husband, the cook of the family, made a so called traditional Christmas dinner with bourbon glazed ham. Apparently no one thought there was anything wrong with that!

We do not wish to enter the who is a Jew debate. We also do not agree with those rabbis who attempt to retro-actively annul a conversion because a woman wore pants! Somewhere between that standard and what- based on the article- is a standardless conversion, there must be a Maimonidean Golden Mean.

Yes, this column is not about kashrut per se. But the NYT article is important. Read it and decide for yourself. Then ask yourself who gets to draw the line(s) on conversion and where.

Posted on December 29, 2009 at 12:04 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Uncategorized

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