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34

Yes, conversion is possible. The Talmud discusses it, Maimonides' Code of Jewish Law (around the year 1200) discusses it, and there is a section on it in Shulchan Aruch, the main code of Jewish Law that was compiled in the 1500s. Besides the book of Ruth, see for instance Numbers 9:14: If a proselyte joins you, he must also prepare God's Passover ...


24

There are a lot of good answers here - I especially like @YDK's point about "taking a bullet" for someone really close to you, and not just anybody. I want to expand on this, because I feel this will cut to the heart of what @Seeker is asking. I think behind the questions of racism/nepotism/ethnocentrism, @Seeker has noticed a particular thing about Jews ...


22

There are many reasons why Jews have a low population. Depending on your point of view, different reasons will be "more true" than the others. It says in the Torah that the Jewish people, will be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands by the sea. However, it also says that we will be a minority amongst the nations. So while we may be ...


21

Judaism isn't a "race," and its tenets aren't racist, for one simple reason: we accept (genuinely motivated) converts of any race or ethnic background, and for nearly all purposes of Jewish law they are fully the equivalent of born Jews.


18

Different people will argue different positions. But besides the derasha from a pasuk in chumash, a straightforward counter-claim can be made from Ezra perek 4: ב וַיַּעַן שְׁכַנְיָה בֶן-יְחִיאֵל מִבְּנֵי עולם (עֵילָם), וַיֹּאמֶר לְעֶזְרָא--אֲנַחְנוּ מָעַלְנוּ בֵאלֹהֵינוּ, וַנֹּשֶׁב נָשִׁים נָכְרִיּוֹת מֵעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ; וְעַתָּה יֵשׁ-מִקְוֶה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, ...


17

In Jewish Law, a Jew is a Jew and remains a Jew no matter what actions he or she takes. You could even say, "once a Jew, always a Jew". That means, if someone is born to a Jewish mother (because Jewishness is passed through the mother) and is never told that they are Jewish, they are still a Jew. Judaism is not a religion like Christianity or Islam is. ...


16

There are two ways to be(come) Jewish: have a Jewish birth mother, or convert. It is possible that your adoptive parents had you converted when they adopted you, and that would be something to investigate. (Depending on who did the conversion and how, some in the community might not accept it as valid. You will probably want to obtain a copy of the ...


15

Seeker, there may be two separate answers to your question depending on the case. More than a religion, the bible refers to the Jewish people as a single unit. Just as when two people make a commitment through marriage, they are promising to take care of each other at a level that is higher than that toward others. That doesn't mean I'm not nice to ...


14

A couple of answers that I've seen: Charging interest is something quite normal in the business world; there's nothing immoral about it per se. However, you wouldn't charge interest on a loan to your brother or sister, because you relate to them as family rather than as business associates. The Torah expects us to treat every Jew like a sibling (which, ...


14

Other possible proofs (though, admittedly, not as strong as Josh's): In Lev. 24:10ff, we have the story of "the son of an Israelite woman, who was also the son of an Egyptian man" who blasphemed Hashem's name and was executed judicially for this offense. Now it is true that, according to halachah, non-Jews are liable to death for this too (Rambam, Laws of ...


14

A person is a Jew if their mother is a Jew. If a jewish woman marries out of the faith and did not bring up her children as Jews they are still Jewish, even if they do not know it or practice it. And then her daughters children remain Jewish and at this point most likely they have no idea what it means to be a Jew.


14

Based on Jewish law, a person's Jewish status (for a non-convert) is determined through matrilineal descent. This means that one is only Jewish from birth if their mother was Jewish. And their mother was only Jewish if their mother was Jewish. Based on this, a person can have seven out of eight great-grandparents who are Jewish, and still not be Jewish from ...


13

For a person who has renounced their Judaism, it appears that while the person doesn't need to undergo a full conversion (on a Torah level), they do need to reaccept the Torah on some level and immerse in a mikvah before returning to the previous status. This seems to be especially true if the Jew literally worshiped idolatry. Rambam, Hil. Mamrim 3:1-3: A ...


13

In the Vilna Gaon's commentary to a story in the Gemara (Bechoros 8b) about a debate between R' Yehoshua and the "Sages of Athens" (this commentary has been adapted into English, in The Juggler and the King, by R' Aharon Feldman), he explains that Hashem's reason for offering the Torah first to the nations was indeed to demonstrate that it doesn't "fit" with ...


13

Josh, welcome to the site. In answer to your question, a distinction needs to be made between normative Halachic practice (aka Jewish law) and streams of Judaism that do not consider Halachah as binding (like Reform Judaism). I am not an expert in Reform conversion or synagogue standards, but my understanding is that the Reform community will welcome you as ...


12

The key phrase in your question, I think, is "some level." It is true that based on the verse you referenced, all human beings have a basic Divinely-given dignity, and we should treat them with that in mind. As Rabbi Akiva puts it (Avos 3:14, translation taken from here): "Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G-d]; it is a sign of even ...


12

Jewish: Is the person a Jew. According to halacha, this is defined by whether or not the person's mother was Jewish or they converted from another religion to Judaism (and according to some authorities, if the person did not convert from Judaism to another religion, since according to some this would mean that they are no longer Jewish). Zionist: Harder to ...


12

"Jewish," as @Yishai points out in the comments, is an anachronism. I don't think we're talking about being what we'd call Jewish nowadays - being a member of the Jewish Nation. It's pretty irrelevant to ask whether you'd marry off your daughter to Avraham Avinu or whether you'd count him for a minyan, since neither your daughter nor the other nine guys ...


12

As far as comedy in Jewish history goes: the Gemara, in Taanis (22a), has a story where Eliyahu Hanavi tells Rabbi Beroka Hoza'ah that two particular men would merit the world to come. Upon asking them, the two men said that they were comedians, and that when they see someone who is depressed they try to cheer them up. Also, they said, that they always try ...


11

Does this happen regularly within the community? Depends upon the community. I once helped computerize a Brooklyn Rabbi's conversion records, and over the course of ~15 years he had helped convert between 150-200 people. How readily accepted are Gentiles into the community (are they seen as strange or welcomed openly)? In a word: readily. In my own ...


11

The Gemara (Kiddushin 18a, top) calls Eisav ישראל מומר - an apostate Jew.


10

It's actually if Israel has the majority of the world's Jewish population, not just a plurality. The figures in your second link have 42.5% in Israel vs. 57.5% outside of it - so we're not quite there yet. (There is also, of course, the difficulty of determining who is a halachic Jew, ואכמ"ל.) Anyway, Yovel (and Shemittah, according to some posekim) depends ...


10

In the Guide of the Perplexed, Chapter XIV, the Rambam comments on "behold the height of the stars, how high they are!" (Job xxii. 12) that is to say, learn from the height of the heavens how far we are from comprehending God, for there is an enormous distance between ourselves and these corporeal objects, and the latter are greatly distinguished ...


10

Hatred has many sources. And sometimes it seems to have none. One could attribute it to a divine decree, or to biblical stories which pit people against people. Or you could look at historical or sociological trends. Here is a random selection of "reasons": Jews are separate and distinct. When any group defies the will of the masses or the powerful, it is ...


10

there is a world of difference. Judaism places man on the highest pedestal possible "In the 'image' of God He created man" (Genesis 1:27) Nazis viewed Jews as vermins and pests which must be exterminated. Likewise in Pirkei Avot chapter 3 regarding all of mankind: Rabbi Akiva used to say: Beloved is man that he was created in the image of G-d; an ...


9

Let's start by talking about love in human terms. Why does Person A love Person B? There can be a couple of possibilities: It may be based on B's actions (for example, B has done something that A really appreciates). It may be because of their relationship (a parent loves a child). When we talk about G-d loving the Jewish people, both of these factors ...


8

Yes, people convert to Judaism all the time. Conversion is not actually encouraged; the general feeling seems to be that it's better and easier for someone to be a good non-Jew than to be a convert who isn't fully committed to Jewish law. The dangers of conversion in many Christian and Muslim countries may be why conversion came to be discouraged, although ...


8

The Mishna in Taanis 4:8 tells us that when it says in Shir Hashirim 3:11 "The day of our wedding" it refers to the giving of the Torah, i.e Shavuot. (Rashi on Shir Hashirim 3:11 says it as well.) Once we've established that there is a connection between the giving of the Torah and Marriage, this opens us up for a lot of divre torah, connecting the two. ...


8

As I heard it from a Rabbi Frand tape, and similarly in a shiur from Rabbi Breitowitz: The question is also raised with regards to Mahlon & Kilyon marrying "Moabite women" in Ruth Chapter 1. If they weren't Jewish, how could they have married them? If they converted, why do we derive the necessary commitment for a convert from what Ruth says after she ...


8

In a word: no. You're using a great deal of Christian wording here, so let me state the way it's phrased from a Jewish perspective, and hopefully this helps: Barring some truly extreme cases, hell only lasts a maximum of twelve months before a soul can move on to higher realms. Jews believe that all Jews, except for a few special cases, have a share in ...



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