Judaism: Embracing the Seeker

By Harold Schulweis

Format: Hardcover



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This book is addressed to Jews and non-Jews, affiliated or unaffiliated, who seek to understand the distinctive character of Jewish faith and identification. It seeks to dispel the whispered rumors that Judaism looks askance at those of other faiths who seek or have adopted a Jewish way of life. The myth of exclusiveness would limit Judaism to "Jews by genes," contrary to Jewish theology, law, and Jewish history.
57 men and women who have chosen to join the Jewish community of faith and destiny are asked the motivation for their choice, the reaction of their family and friends, and their aspirations for their renewed lives. They answer by offering personal testimony to their journey and to the meaning their free-willed choice has added to their lives.
Prominent synagogue rabbis, of all Jewish schools, of thought share their dialogues with the seekers who learn of the shivers of Jewish history, the resilience of its people throughout 40 centuries of existence and the vision of a universe to be sanctified through active, loving care.
The gates of Judaism are open. Let all who hunger come and eat at the same table.
Throughout history, the Jewish attitude toward conversion has been ambiguous and complex. Schulweis, an eminent California rabbi, Brilliantly analyzes the ambivalence toward conversion, citing the continuing Israeli argument about the Law of Return with respect to converts. He clearly explores the positive and negative attitudes toward the convert. The book consists primarily of first-person stories told by 57 men and women who became "Jews by choice." By and large, they are individuals whose decision to embrace Judaism resulted from a personal spiritual quest rather than marriage. Following the personal narratives, there are eight brief essays, primarily by rabbis, in which they describe their experiences in connection with conversion. The book also includes five poems by Schulweis, an afterword by editor Michael Halperin, and a glossary. For Jews, this is a helpful exploration of conversion and a useful guide to the attitude that should be embraced. For non-Jews, it is a valuable introduction to the elements in Judaism that cause some of their friends and even members of their own families to choose to become Jews.