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Can You Become Jewish?


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31 replies to this topic

#1
Sea81

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I've heard so many different ideas about people converting to Judaism. Some say it's rigorous but possible; others say no way, you have to be born into it.

I'm just curious what any of you think. Do Jewish people see it differently from non-Jewish people? Thanks!

#2
CinnamonBear

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Unlike Christianity, Judaism doesn't encourage "proseletizing," or converting people to its faith. More than a religion, Judaism is a way of life.

In Reform Judaism, you're welcome to study and take classes in Judaism, and you're welcome to join and embrace Judaism as your faith. However, converts are never actively sought.

#3
emunah73

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There are some Jewish people who will never accept converts. The Syrian community for instance. Many people also look at converts with suspicion and sadly they have a reason for it, because there were many insincere converts who were trying to use religion for their personal gain and then made a mockery of it. In Orthodox Judaism conversion is a long process but it's definitely doable. It just needs to be done for valid reasons not for marriage for instance. When a person is sincere I think she/he has no major problems with being accepted because other people can see this sincerity. And you don't have to care about those who don't accept converts no matter what.

#4
Nakhash

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Also, people forget that there have been many conversions to Judaism mentioned in the Tanakh/Bible. One of the best-known is Ruth. She leaves all she knows in her homeland to go with her mother-in-law Naomi, telling her, "...your people will be my people, and your G-d will be my G-d."

#5
unarmedthinker

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I am non-Jewish but I known a few Jewish people in the past. I used to talk to a girl from Israel, she was not very religious but she told me you cannot become a Jew, you are born a Jew. She told me that Jewish converts are not accepted by the Jewish community, they are not viewed as 'real' Jews. Now she might be wrong but she lives in Israel - the Jewish nation, I trust her opinion on this subject.

#6
SifuPhil

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Sammy Davis Jr. accomplished it, but I'm not sure how he handled the bris ...

I am non-Jewish but I known a few Jewish people in the past. I used to talk to a girl from Israel, she was not very religious but she told me you cannot become a Jew, you are born a Jew. She told me that Jewish converts are not accepted by the Jewish community, they are not viewed as 'real' Jews. Now she might be wrong but she lives in Israel - the Jewish nation, I trust her opinion on this subject. ]

I wonder if there is some mixing of the concepts of nationality and religion going on in cases like this. Most Catholics cannot point to a single country where their nationalities began - most of us are mixed. But the Jews have Israel to claim as their country, and it just so happens that it's also the power-base of their religion.
Philstivus.com - a cult for non-cultists and one long holiday for odd people

#7
MyDigitalpoint

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she was not very religious but she told me you cannot become a Jew, you are born a Jew


This is a curious fact because since I can remember I have been close to people or reading that mention individual who supposedly convert to Judaism in order to marry a Jew.

Whether possible or not, I don't understand how someone may pretend to convert to another religious just to satisfy personal demands and not with the conviction of a believer willing to serve his or her new religion.

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#8
tommymac

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Many jews believe that if you're not jewish by birth, you're simply not jewish.

#9
Nakhash

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There are some Jews that don't accept that someone can be Jewish other than by birth. But I think people are confusing being Jewish with following Judaism. They think it's like asking can you convert to Chinese. But they're wrong. We're supposed to look up to the convert because he or she made the choice to bear the burden of being Jewish.

I wouldn't be more accepting of what the Israeli girl said simply because she's from Israel. The question of "who is a Jew" is more political and has to do with being allowed to immigrate there. Some who feel that way are not accepting of recent immigrants from Africa and

#10
Jatelo2

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Unlike Christianity, Judaism doesn't encourage "proseletizing," or converting people to its faith. More than a religion, Judaism is a way of life.

In Reform Judaism, you're welcome to study and take classes in Judaism, and you're welcome to join and embrace Judaism as your faith. However, converts are never actively sought.

Unlike Christianity, Judaism doesn't encourage "proseletizing," or converting people to its faith. More than a religion, Judaism is a way of life.

In Reform Judaism, you're welcome to study and take classes in Judaism, and you're welcome to join and embrace Judaism as your faith. However, converts are never actively sought.


This doesn't strike me as true..Simply say that you do not seek non-Jewish but proselytizing among Jews is rampant!

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#11
Sea81

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Thanks for the insightful responses! I was dating a Jewish guy, and honestly thought about going through the process to convert, but I didn't think his parents would accept me. For some reason, I've always been fascinated by Judaism, but in the end I decided I should not make that leap.

#12
ErnestDalbero

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Have you seen the movie "The Big Lebowsky"? In that movie there's a character who converted to Judaism. So yes, it is possible. However Judaism does not encourage proselitism, its a religion that's pretty closed in itself.

#13
bsge11

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I don't think you have to be born into a specific religion. You should be able to choose your own faith and practice it as well. Don't all religions welcome all types of people in their inner-circle?

#14
Bloom

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Judaism is slightly different. As others have mentioned, Judaism is a way of life. It's something that you are by birth. Yes, you do have a choice to be a Christian, a Buddhist, or more. But by blood, faith, and culture, you're a Jew. As a Conservative Jew, I believe that you must be born Jewish in order for you to call yourself a Jew. However, if you do convert, it's more realistic in men than women.

While a man adapts into the culture and learn the ways of the Jewish life, a woman is considered a bit more sacred. It is believed that the future of a child held by the woman will depict the religion. If the woman was converted from another religion to Judaism, the baby is not Jewish. As mentioned many times in the Tanakh, the women are connected with G-d through fertility.

#15
brokenblade

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You can definitely be converted into Judaism. There are a lot of people that have converted. While the majority of Jews are actually born as Jews (Jews are also a nationality from what I hear), you can still become one if you are really interested.

#16
Kjordo711

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I think Judaism has been a way of life for me. I think that converting is possible, but it would require to change your way of life. Judaism has always been more than a faith, it changes your life.

#17
ghanashyam

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No, I wish not to convert to Judaism. What is the point ? Additionally, I agree that converts are not taken very seriously in any religion. i sincerely believe the religions are only the different languages in which the  TRUTH was told.



#18
emilyallen133

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I have known two different jewish familys and no from what I know you can't really convert to being a jew its a family thing. One family was from Israel and the other was from the UK. They never preached there faith or made it accessible to others. 

 

My next question from this is can people who are born Jewish leave there faith? Neither of the familys I knew ever did and its a question I dont really like asking people. 



#19
elizabethraine

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You can very definitely become Jewish. I recently started pursuing conversion, and many people I have met have been very accepting and welcoming, and often people offer to help me, answer questions, even invite me to dinner as soon as they meet me.

But I think what you would find if you wanted to convert, or if you were confused about people you know who converted, would be that there are multiple forms of Judaism with different rules- Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox, with divisions even within that. My Orthodox friends have explained to me that they do not often consider other forms of conversion valid because it comes down to these things:what you swear to do in terms of following commandments at your conversion and what you interpret as following or not following the commandments. It's complicated, and converting also takes a very long time, but it isn't impossible.



#20
Caesar Saladin

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This is all from the viewpoint of a non-Jew (but maybe not for long), so please correct me if I'm wrong on any of this:

 

You can convert to Judaism under the auspices of any one of the major denominaitons, provided you meet the specific requirements of that denomination. That much is already known, and is not in dispute.

 

Once you convert to Judaism, you are Jewish- period. HOWEVER, that applies in a broader religious sense, but in the sense that you undergo some magical transformation to alter your specific bloodline. You are, for all practical purposes, Jewish and part of 'the tribe' but you do not have or gain an automatic Jewish 'racial history'.

 

To some who are already Jews, your membership in 'the tribe' may be enough for full acceptance. To others, you may have the full benefit and rights of a Jew, yet to them you'll always be 'the convert' (and that in itself may be seen as a good thing or a bad thing; it's all about the person's perception of you.)

 

Is that pretty accurate?






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