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6 years ago  ::  Oct 01, 2008 - 10:48PM #1
haggaion
Posts: 1,972
(I posted this also over at the Evangelical board)

While tooling around Beliefnet an ad appeared on my screen a few minutes ago.

Conversion to Judaism

Which is fine. There is nothing wrong in my mind with this sort of ad. I don't know how an ad called "Conversion to Evangelical Christianity" would go over though.

But the reason I post is if you follow the link from the main page http://www.convertingtojudaism.com/?wcw=google to

"Personal Conversion Experiences" you come to some interesting testimonies

Emma,
age 55, lives in the "Deep South" of the United States. She describes her discontent with Christianity since childhood as feelings of dissatisfaction with the doctrine that one religion damned the people of other religions to "Hell" for not believing as they do. Reading the Torah opened a new world of the "greatness and singularity of God" and she was able to realize her uncertainties about Christianity and her assurance of God through Judaism.

Craig
comes from a cattle property in the "Outback" of Queensland, Australia and from a Protestant Anglican background. Through extensive readings and studies in theology he came to believe that it is our own experiences and values that determine our future, not those that dogma dictate that we must accept without question. He came to know that it was Judaism that offered him what he was searching for. With his conversion at age 27 he says, "I have found my spiritual home".


That is two of the four testimonies.

This does not cause me a problem, except that for about 2 years, I have heard on the board here that Jews don't proselytize like evangelicals. Well I am kind of an evangelical, and I would feel uncomfortable with these sort of testimonies.

It would be like saying, I converted to Christianity because I felt like Judaism was an empty rule keeping religion. (which I don't believe, and it is sad I would even have to add this)

So what you do think?
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 01, 2008 - 11:25PM #2
JAstor
Posts: 3,957
The website is not representative of Judaism.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 01, 2008 - 11:59PM #3
Beruriah33
Posts: 638
Although there are a few Jews who advocate evangelism, they are the fringe. Most of us are generally opposed to evangelism of our religion, because nobody needs to be Jewish in order to have God's love.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 1:18AM #4
LeahOne
Posts: 16,396
While it's certainly a form of proselytizing, as you'd see from the 'Judaism community' forum (if we didn't have to keep that pretty much 'private' just to keep the proselytizers from annoying us in our own online 'home'!) - there is actually a need which is served by this online course.

I'm not exactly overjoyed to see the ads - but just how else would one go about even finding out about what actual Jews believe if one lived in the Australian outback?  Or in most of the Great Basin states ?  I've seen posts now & then where people wishing to convert to Judaism had difficulty locaTINg a rabbi to work with.  It took my husband almost 15 years to find one because we had to relocate so often and military chaplains , at least the Jewish ones, absolutely refuse to do conversions for ethical reasons.

On second thought - I see it as intended to be an invitation, not any kind of 'warning' or 'correction' or anything negative directed at people of any ohter faith.  As Beruriah has pointed out, nowhere in Judaism does it suggest that anyone NEEDS to be a Jew.  I see the site as intended to fa\cilitate arrangements for people who've already pretty much decided they WANT to be Jewish.

It wouldn't be my choice to express a desire to become a Jew as something lacking in Christianity for me - but when I did compare Christian aND jEWISH beliefs on some topics, I realized I greatly disagreed wiht the Christian doctrine.  I'd be a lousy Christian, not nearly as good at it as I am at being a Jew (not that I'm hte apex of Jewish belief, but I'd be a really really lousy Christian!).
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 2:16AM #5
haggaion
Posts: 1,972
So you think the two testimonies I quoted are Kosher?
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 7:23AM #6
Sholem
Posts: 344
[QUOTE=haggaion;798537]So you think the two testimonies I quoted are Kosher?[/QUOTE]

The quotes make me uncomfortable. Discontent with Christianity is a reason for leaving Christianity not a reason for becoming a Jew. This is too much like Evangelicals and Cults that exploit people's feelings of alienation to try to increase their fold. The only reason to become a Jew is a sincere desire to share the fate and faith of the Jewish people.

By the way, the term "Evangelical" refers specifically to the Christian Gospels. "Evangelical Judaism" is an oxymoron.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 8:27AM #7
LeahOne
Posts: 16,396
I just grabbed the husband on his way out to work and read him the two accounts Haggaion quoted....he thinks they are 'reaL' and has no problem with them philospohically or theologically.

  Both these people were looking already, especially the Aussie - and in Judaism they found something which spoke to their souls in a way which their 'cradle' religion had not ( I started a thread in Multifaith about 'cradle' religion...).  These were no 'flash' conversions, but part of a years-long search by each of these people to find a way they could attain a better personal relationship with GOD. 

The husband expressed the opinion that this site appears to be 'kosher' in that it merely provides a way for interested parties to explore the basics of Judaism:  the individual must put in considerable effort which is entirely up to them. 

Has it historically been a Jewish 'thing' to go about actively seeking converts?  Mostly not - but it's not completely unheard of.

What is this site's stated purpose?  To inform people who may be interested in converting to Judaism/joining the Jewish People how they might go about doing so.  In reading the site, it doesn't seem to me that the one rabbi involved is violating any principles of Judaism or misrepresenting anything.  I see a statement basically indicatng he is 'screening' potential converts, not guaranteeing anyone that they can become a Jew overnight.

Is there something unsettling to you in reading that a few people raised as Christians didn't find within any Christian tradition they knew of, a relationship with GOD which expressed fully the deepest yearnings of their souls?  Do you truly see it as an indictment of Christianity per se?  I admit to being onfused.


Haggaion, I'm not seeking to disparage or attack your or anyone's faith here.  I don't 'know' you well, I feel , yet I regard you as honest and a possible friend - and something bothers you, so I'm trying in my fumblng way to help figure this all out.

Please be advised:  I'm feeling sick-ish (no big deal), not at all rested (groping about the semi-flooded driveway for my misplaCED car key at 1AM!), on a borrowed laptop - and have to leave for work in an hour.  Hardly at my best, I admit.....
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 10:05AM #8
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
I'm not sure I understand what the problem is here.

Both persons quoted found that their religion of birth did not meet their spiritual needs, they found something in Judaism that spoke to them and decided that conversion was right for them. What's the big deal?

The difference between these conversion stories and what one might term an "evangelical" conversion story is the absense of a belief in their sinfulness and depravity and need to purification and the lack of conviction that eternal torment in hell would have awaited them had they not converted -- and awaits all those who fail to do so.

This website appears legitimate -- the rabbi that runs it is a member in good standing of the Reform's movements rabbinical association -- but I dislike the concept of a conversion class by internet because it ignores the central aspect of Judaism: community.

Judaism is simply the religion of the Jewish people. One who converts does not really join a new religion but becomes a citizen of a complete civilization. The point of Judaism is that we become most human in harmony and community with other humans -- and thus the community is the primary unit of Jewish religious life. It is in community (symbolized by the minimum quorum of 10) that we worship and go through our life cycle rituals. Judaism as a solitary religion doesn't make much sense.

I am of the opinion that all religions are more or less the same. Since God cannot even be proven to exist, it seems pointless to belief that one faith is superior to the rest. Religions are essentially equally meaningless in themselves -- it is only the individual's faith that gives them meaning. If one religion no longer holds meaning for a person, there's absolutely nothing wrong with him or her adopting another one.

So, if someone said this: "I converted to Christianity because I felt like Judaism was an empty rule keeping religion" I would have no argument on a religious level.

The only difference between a person converting out of Judaism is the peoplehood aspect. Regardless of what one actually believes about YHWH, the fact remains that YHWH is the god for Jews and that the mythic symbol of the covenant -- the exclusive relationship of obediance and blessing -- between YHWH and Israel is the central symbol of our national identity. I think the closest approximation would be the role of the Queen in Britian. Regardless of one's politics or opinions of the institution of the monarchy, the Queen is the symbol of the British nation and what technically makes a person a British citizen is being a subject of the British monarch.

If a Jew were to adopt another religion that has a different god from YHWH, especially one that holds that the Jewish religion is somehow defective, then that person would be rejecting the Jewish people and renouncing his citizenship in the Jewish nation -- more immediately, it would be like a child disowning his family. On that level of peoplehood and that level alone conversion out of Judaism is distressing. However, if I admit that people have the freedom to volunarily join the Jewish people, I must hold that they have the freedom to voluntarily leave. :(
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 02, 2008 - 10:10AM #9
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
BTW, as was pointed out, "Evangelical Judaism" doesn't make any sense.

Evangelical means "pertaining to the euangelion or "good news" of the Christian scriptures."

Granted, there are (unfortunately) groups of soi-disant "Messianic Jews" so it would seem this label would best apply to them. However, "Messianic Judaism" is just as inherently non-sensical as "Evangelical Judaism" would be.
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6 years ago  ::  Oct 01, 2008 - 11:25PM #10
JAstor
Posts: 3,957
The website is not representative of Judaism.
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