What Does It Take to Become a Jew – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law

Conversion (Giyyur in Hebrew) has become one of the most volatile issues in modern Jewish life. People are often unaware that most of the issues under discussion have their roots in serious legal (halachic) debates. This course will examine some of the major concerns which underscore these legal controversies. Among the topics that will be discussed will be: the basic legal components of conversion; conversion for ulterior motives; acceptance of the Torah; must a person become an observant Jew to convert; can a conversion be annulled; the concept of “zera Yisrael – (Jewish blood), the conversion of a minor. In this course we will examine the foundation sources in the tradition for each debate and then the modern opinions which underlie the passionate deliberations found in modern Jewish life.

Introduction to What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law Introduction The Conservative Yeshiva, Jerusalem Video Introduction Who is a Jew? Is this question social in nature or cultural; religious or national? Is the answer to this question objective, namely, is there a set of criterion which must be met […]

Essential Ingredients for a Successful Conversion – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 1 “The essential ingredients for a successful conversion” What are the basic legal requirements of a Halachic Jewish conversion? Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein The Conservative Yeshiva PDF In this first lesson, I want to lay out the basic […]

Conversion for Ulterior Motives – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 2 Conversion for Ulterior Motives PDF By the very nature of things, the process of conversion begins with the decision of a non-Jewish person to convert. This process begins as a personal one, a matter of the […]

Conversion for Ulterior Motives – Part 2 – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 3 Conversion for Ulterior Motives – Part 2 PDF  We left off in our last lesson with the teshuva of Rambam in which he took a lenient stand with regard to case of a man suspected of […]

Acceptance of the Commandments as an Obligation for Conversion – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 4 Acceptance of the Commandments as an Obligation for Conversion PDF In the first lesson, we noted the three requisite conditions for conversion. This week we will deal with the necessity for the convert to “accept” upon […]

Conversion of a Minor – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 5 Conversion of a Minor PDF The conversion of children presents an interesting Jewish legal problem. How can a minor be inducted into the covenant when one of the requisites for conversion is acceptance of the commandments […]

The Role of the Beit Din – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 6 The Role of the Beit Din PDF  In the second lesson, we talked about conversion for ulterior motives. Regarding this question (Yevamot 24a), the Tosaphot (some of the medieval French-German commentators) made a very interesting remark regarding […]

Saving Jewish Seed – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 7 Saving Jewish Seed + PDF Judaism has always had to contend with intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. The Talmud has already confronted many of these issues. Still, modern considerations (for instance: the large Aliyah from Eastern Europe […]

Can There Be Conversion Without Circumcision? – What Does It Take to Become a Jew?

What Does It Take to Become a Jew? – The Conversion Controversy in Modern Jewish Law – Lesson 8 Can There Be Conversion Without Circumcision? + PDF In previous lessons, we have largely dealt with the mindset of the potential convert and with the range of possibilities in determining what constitutes accept the obligations necessary […]