- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

Conversion to Judaism

Rachel Zoll’s Sunday Religion article, “Jews encourage conversion,” overstates Jewish leaders’ advocacy for conversion. At the same time that Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said that Reform synagogues should not shy away from inviting non-Jewish spouses to convert, he began an initiative to express gratitude for non-Jewish parents who raise their children as Jews, calling them, “heroes of Jewish life.”

Encouraging more interfaith couples to raise their children as Jews is critically important to ensuring Jewish continuity. Rabbi Yoffie’s balanced approach recognizes that that will happen far more often if the non-Jewish partner is genuinely welcomed and accepted than if conversion is promoted too aggressively.

Miss Zoll cites a “major” new study by the American Jewish Committee finding that “advocating for conversion works.” However, that study, which included interviews of just 37 converts, cited research that focused on young interfaith couples — the most important demographic — and found that they “would be ‘turned off to Judaism’ if they were approached about conversion by clergy or even family friends.”

Conversion to Judaism is a wonderful personal choice, but the Jewish community will shoot itself in the foot if it follows anything other than an unpressured approach.




Newton, Mass.

Next time, try ‘to reach me’

Earlier this month, Tom Knott questioned my patriotism and showered me with ridicule, phony indignation and pious smarminess. My “crime” involved comments I have made about Team USA. Specifically, I questioned the wisdom of bringing in soldiers maimed and crippled by the war in Iraq to motivate the players. Mr. Knott finds it reprehensible that I support the troops but not the war (“Injustice? Look at your contract, Etan” Sports, Sept. 4).

Mr. Knott’s far-right politics have blinded him to reality. Not only is this war unwise, but it is being fought in ways that are wrong. It’s a quagmire with no exit strategy.

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