Wednesday, 23 July 2014

No distinction between converts and Jews by birth

Question: David why do Jews by birth not see Jews who convert as being fully Jewish? 

Answer : Any Jew by birth who sees a Jew who has converted to our people's faith as not being a Jew is speaking utter crap. Once a person has converted to Judaism, i.e. has the approval of a Beth Din, been immersed in a mikveh and if male circumcised (which can be done prior to conversion under General anesthetic by a professional medical practitioner) & is willing to accept the Jewish lifestyle then he or she is fully Jewish. There is no distinction between a Jew from birth and a Jew who has converted. Contrary to popular belief Jews are not a race, but a nation in a perpetual and unbreakable covenant between the Jewish people and God . The Torah is our Constitution and that is the responsibility that a potential convert is taking on. Here is what one of the Rabbinical Midrash says about converts and how loved they are by God : 

"Dearer to God than all of the Israelites who stood at Mount Sinai is the convert. Had the Israelites not witnessed the lightning, thunder, and quaking mountain, and had they not heard the sounds of the shofar, they would not have accepted the Torah. But the convert, who did not see or hear any of these things, surrendered to God and accepted the yoke of heaven. Can anyone be dearer to God than such a person".

Lech Lecha 6:32


  1. Hi David,

    Thanks for this post and putting the record straight ! I've encountered secular Jews that don't believe a dam word of The Torah who treat sincere and genuine converts as if they weren't Jewish. But then these are the same secularists who think having Chicken soup on Shabbat is part of the 10 commandments !!

  2. Vafsi,

    Excuse me, but none of what I've written above is untrue nor is it uneducated. A Jew who converts is the equal of a Jew by birth, at least it is in my Judaism and in the bulk of the Jewish world; a Jewish soul is a Jewish soul. If you actually go to 'source' that is the Hebrew Bible you will see that a convert called 'Ruth' was of King David's line. As to what happens to people after death, I'll place my fate into that of the Almighty. My father was a devout Jew and a convert, so is my current wife. I believe my father is with my mother & the rest of my family who were born Jews and indeed those who I know who are not Jews. I don't believe that they are separated at all.

  3. Yes we do see Jews who have converted as being Jewish. If the conversion was done according to Jewish law, then yes, we accept them. There will always be a few who see those born Jewish as better but they should not do that and most Jews that I know don't do that. The Torah calls us to love the convert ( Deuteronomy 10, 19).

  4. Our teacher Moses's wife, Tzipora was a convert. Was she a lesser Jew then?

  5. Dov,

    I agree with what you say. I can't see how you've turned the Torah to what you want to hear, as this is exactly what ANY Orthodox Rabbi would say. The Hebrew Bible states that converts deserve special attention (Deuteronomy 10:19). The Hebrew word for "convert", ger, is the same as that for a stranger. It is also related to the root gar - "to dwell'. Hence since the Children of Israel were "strangers" - geirim in Egypt, they are therefore instructed to be welcoming to those who seek to convert and dwell amongst them.

    Judaism, unlike Christianity and Islam, is not a proselytizing religion. Because it teaches that the righteous of all nations shall enter the gates of heaven, it does not have any compelling urge to rescue non-Jews from hell.

    There is a requirement in Jewish law to ensure the sincerity of a potential convert. This is taken very seriously, and when played out against the background of the foregoing considerations, most authorities are very careful about it.

    Essentially, they want to be sure that the convert knows what he is getting into, and that he is doing it for sincerely religious reasons. Traditionally, a Rabbinic holds that a prospective convert should be refused three times. In my community, those people who were not born Jewish, and have converted despite all the trials they have to go through from our LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi), once they have converted, they are treated with MUCH respect. They tend to study Torah - and do Mitzvahs more than the born frum Jew. Again, this is just an opinion based on observation in an Orthodox Jewish Community...

    In my PERSONAL opinion, one of my best friends is a converted Jew - and she is more knowledgeable than I in rules, regulations and mitvzahs of the Torah!

  6. Let G-d do the judging and the separating. There is no exact agreement as to what precisely happens to the afterlife.So any non -Jew who reads this (and I think we have as many gentiles as Jews reading here) then they can make their own minds up.

  7. If you convert properly you are full Jewish. End of SONG. Beginning of a new one .G-d love s the convert and so should we love the people who wish to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish nation and join us.

  8. No, when we accept them, it is not as an equal brother. The converts are seen as righteous stranger. Shalom

  9. Yes...and no.

    conversion is viewed as a success in so far as that a convert has "seen the light" of what the orthodoxy has known all along. But lacking the bloodline, they can NEVER really be part of the true culture or customs, and as such, never penetrate the inner circle of family.

  10. Atheist Shrugged23 July 2014 at 12:15

    (1) If Judaism is a religion than, when a person chooses to be an Atheist or converts by choice to another religion than that person is not a Jew because that person does not practice Judaism and/or do not believe in G-d.
    (2) If Judaism is a race, than based in DNA science, every Jew should have matching DNA as do the Arabs, Asians, Hispanics, etc are a race of people based on the fact their group of people all have matching DNA . And all DNA tests have proven that Ashkenazic Jews have the same DNA as all other white Europeans, which means that Ashkenazic Jews are not members of the Hebrew race of the 12 tribes. All Sephardi Jews, and Jews whose ancestry is of the Levant area such as Iraq, Iran, Algeria, etc, all having matching DNA. The Ashkenazic Jews, and Ethiopian Jews do not have DNA that match the Sephardi Jews or any Jews of the 12 tribes. The Torah is clear that all converts must follow the laws of G-d.

  11. Dov,

    Well said .

    To some of the people posting here :

    The Talmud (Bava Metzia 58b-59b) forbids us from oppressing converts by treating them as anything other than a regular member of the tribe.

    The Torah tells us explicitly to love the convert and treat them as our e.g. own- Deuteronomy 10, 19

  12. Thanks Shlomo, I appreciate the response.

  13. I've never know this; are you talking about reform or haredi judaism?

  14. Righteous stranger is a different category in Judaism a Ger toshav .

  15. I like the analogy of life being a song and as one ends another starts. Thanks for that Rachel !

  16. Ruth

    Thanks for this elaboration and discussion. I agree with you.

  17. David,

    Thanks for sharing this with us, I feel particularly enlightened.

  18. Dov,
    Well said & thanks for sharing.

  19. I have always wondered how secular Jews can credit as legitimate the conversion of a gentile to the Jewish faith when said secular Jew denies the reality of said Jewish faith. It would seem to imply that the secular Jew considers Judaism to be a set of rituals. And what happens if a gentile who converts subsequently becomes an atheist? Is he still a Jew? In what sense?


  20. Carl

    It is highly unlikely that a convert would quit the Jewish faith, in part because to become Jewish takes a lot of time , effort, knowledge & struggle, that it is extremely hard to turn one's back on it after all of that. In some respects the modern demands placed on a convert are greater than those who are born into the faith.

    The last time a Jewish court expelled or for want of a better word 'excommunicated' a Jew was way back in 1656, a man called Barauch Spinoza, who was arguably the first 'secular Jew' as he didn't abandon Judaism for Christianity, but simply didn't believe in a deity. I'd say that no Rabbi or Rabbinical court nowadays would want to actively expel a Jew or not want to have anything to do with a secular Jew.

    The aim and ambition of a religious Jew is, nowadays at least, to bring the secular Jews or those off the path (religious Jews who have become secular or OTD as they are called) back to be more observant as a Jew. Besides which many secular Jews DO want to identity with Judaism and the people and do give strong support to Jewish causes, Israel etc.

    The only time I clash with secular Jews is not so much as their lack of observance or indeed belief (I do clash with them) but with what you describe as 'ritual'. Judaism does have its rituals, but without the Kavanah - that is the direction or purpose of the heart- they are meaningless! The secular Jews I've know also have a distinct way of how Judaism should be done, e.g. gazpacho soup verses chicken soup as the soup for Shabbat is something a secular Jew can't cope with 'cause it has to be chicken soup on a Sabbath.

    As for lapsed converts this is slightly more controversial . There have been instances when Rabbinical Courts have wanted to and do revoke a person's conversion (mostly it has to be said Aszkenazi , especially the Haredi) for violations of Judaism. The problem I have with this is that until and unless they start doing the same to Jews by birth -which they won't as they are desperate to bring them back- then we should not formally expel them as not being Jewish.

    There has been controversy in Israel about revoking conversions,some form 30 years ago, but again the Sephardi disagreed with the Aszkenazi Rabbinicate and much of this fell through;this is important because if a convert is female, then any revoking of the conversion means her children become non Jews as well and so potentially do their children.

    NOTE- you are getting personal opinions here, not the formal 'party line' .

  21. Do you think that people born to a Jewish father, but not mother need to convert? And what about the non-Orthodox. Do they need to convert as well because of their denomination?

  22. Question,

    To answer you I would say

    1) If the father is Jewish, but not the mother and you wish to be considered Jewish and follow the Torah, then yes you have to convert; this is Orthodoxy that says you are Jewish if your mother is Jewish.

    2) If you convert by non- Orthodox denominations, then no, this conversion is not considered to be a valid one, if you wanted to move to an Orthodox Synagogue or community.

    3) I see non-Orthodox Jews as being 'in error'; others are more blunt and call it heresy (we have different types of heresy and apostacy, but let's not go there) . Therefore if they wished to join an Orthodox or Sephardi Shul, then yes they would need to convert, however upsetting this may sound to non-Orthodox Jews.

    4) Final point is that the length of time it takes to convert is like asking long long a piece of string it, as this can vary from person to person, so anyone converting to Orthodoxy from another Jewish denomination might be 'quicker' (crude term I know) that someone who knows nothing about the faith or not circumcised.

  23. While I respect your beliefs and actually think they are more equitable than traditional teachings it would be intellectually dishonest or ignorant not to acknowledge that there are strong traditional sources that your beliefs run counter to.
    A strongly held position does not equal a traditional one or orthodoxy would except patralineal decent as jewish

  24. Vafsi,

    We give our views here. People are welcome to challenge them and for us to push back. That's the whole point of this blog. Therefore I am not being intellectually dishonest or ignorant, I simply put my own view across, but I did double check with my community leaders & others I know. They all agree with what I have written on this thread.

    I do not see why stating that any Jew who has converted properly (via Orthodoxy) is not as Jewish as someone who has been born Jewish. You are the first person other than a Syrian or a Karaite Jew who has said this to me. I've double checked with other who know more about this than I do and even done a google search and I don't think I'm wrong for writing what I have written. A convert who converts properly and according to Jewish law is as Jewish as someone born into the faith.

    As for the last sentence, I have no idea what you refer to, as I'm not claiming patralineal descent for I being Jewish , my mother was a Jew by birth & I accept that as Orthodoxy. I've also said to someone else above if you want to be Jewish, but have no Jewish mother, you need to convert, can't get more Orthodox than that. I simply noted that my father converted to Judaism and of course as far as I and my community are concerned, he was as Jewish as Moshe!

    Rgds DK

  25. I appreciate the forum you open up I am an orthoprax yungerman and it bothers me when people represent there personal feelings on a subject that are more in sync with modern sensibilities, as THE orthodox belief that was always held by judisam when any one who researches the topic can see that at best it was highly debated.
    I was mentioning patralineal descent to show that despite many modern people being uncomfortable and offended by it that doesn't change the jewish view on the matter
    You are correct that the only halachik differences a ger has over regular jews is that you must treat them with extra sensitivity and can't marry a kohen. Oh one more I almost forgot the mishnah says you save a regular jews life before a ger (don't worry a father even a ger goes before other jews)

  26. Why is it the Jewish identity traces through the Matrilineal line?



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