Hi, I was wondering if anyone could recommend to me any books that are specific to the topic of converting to Judaism.Though I'm interested in becoming Jewish through either a Reform or Conservative Bet Din. I'm currently reading the ever so wonderful "Conversion to Judaism" by Lawrence Epstein which is really informative however one could argue that it is limited somewhat by the fact that it does't really go into depth regarding the said 2 schools of Jewish thought. Besides that book I also have a fair number that delve deeper into Judaism as a whole which will of course be of great use for the continual learning process. Todah Rabah Rafaeli
Post by yohannan61 on Oct 11, 2013 14:12:01 GMT -5
Maurice Lamm's "Becoming a Jew" places numerous personal accounts of conversion at the beginning of the books, from a Modern Orthodox rabbi. I don't recall the particulars of Anita Diamant's "Choosing a Jewish Life," which I assume (I don't recall) is Reform.
To be frank, I don't think that you should spend too much time reading books on the subject of conversion itself---just one or two should be good enough. Better to get on with the learning about Judaism because you want to become a "Jew", not merely a "convert to Judaism". And the reality is that conversion is different for every individual---not only are their denominational differences, but there are differences based on the rabbi, the community, the background and unique identity of the prospective convert, etc.. No matter how many conversion stories you read, I guarantee that your experience will be different in some way. I would not recommend any conversion "program" that seems to process people through in a very uniform way such that it is just a matter of attending x number of classes for x amount of time.
The process itself is a very small aspect of conversion---meet with a beit din, circumcision (or symbolic drop of blood) for males, immersion in a mikvah or other suitable body of water. What takes the most time and effort is to learn the basics concerning Hebrew, liturgy, ritual, Jewish history, etc, and experiencing Jewish living.
You will find more posts on useful books in the "Conversion" topic. I think this this topic was meant more for general Jewish books rather than those related to conversion. Under that topic, I have posted about my own favorite overview book on Judaism: "Jewish Literacy" by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.
Although I understand Debbie B's point that you should not spend too much time getting involved with books about conversion, I think there is a healthy balance to be found. I have always found it interesting to read about the experiences of other people in coming to Judaism. I think you will benefit from buying a small selection of books that deal with the topic and will serve as a guide to you for the future.
In addition to the books suggested above, I have "Emerging Jewish" by Rabbi Daniel Kohn. It is only a small book written from a Reform perspective, but I would recommend it. One of the first books that I read was the story of a Catholic priest who became a Jew. It is called "So Strange My Path" by Abraham Carmel. I'm not sure if it is still in print, but you should be able to find a copy on Amazon or at a well stocked Judaica store.
I agree that Julius Lester's book is wonderful. He is a very thoughtful person who expresses himself with candor and clarity. Something I have in common with him is that I am also of a visible ethnicity that means that many Jews assume that either I am not Jewish or that I am a convert. The latter is true, of course, but it would be more polite for people to assume the opposite case and to not ask if it is not relevant. I have had a few rather negative experiences where I've been aggressively interrogated about it. And I myself worry about it when I'm in a Jewish environment where the other people do not know me personally. I won't give the spoiler, but let's just say that Lester felt that way too but also tells about the time that he was surprised in a positive way by a person's reaction to his presence as a guest at a synagogue.
Last Edit: Jan 11, 2015 17:31:03 GMT -5 by Debbie B.