Why People Become Jewish – OpEd


Non-Jews who become Jewish do not convert to Judaism because they think they have found the only true religion; or that they will go to heaven faster. People who become Jewish convert because of love.

For some it is love for Jewish concepts of God, or love for the truths they have found for themselves in Judaism; intellectual ideals and a rational certainty.

For most people who become Jewish, the love is more personal. Sometimes it is love for the Jewish People and its culture, history, music or its love for justice and mercy. Sometimes people become Jewish as a result of loving a special Jew, and desiring to live in a Jewish family and community.

In Poland most often, underneath the love of Judaism, there is a hidden, slowly self revealing Jewish identity, of a soul that desires to return home; to where that soul belongs. The Biblical book of Ruth records the vow that Ruth, the great grandmother of King David, made to Naomi, her mother-in-law, as follows: “Where ever you go, I will go. Where ever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. Where ever you die, there will I die (even Treblinka or Auschwitz); and there I will be buried.” (Ruth 1:16-17) Everyone who becomes Jewish repeats this vow.

In Poland, almost every person that repeats this pledge already has a Jewish soul (gilgul) inherited from one of their Jewish ancestors; and their souls at last come home to rejoin the rest of the Jewish people.

Of course, thousands of non-Jews become Jewish every year throughout the world. For example, Nelly Altenburger, a non-Jewish 12 year old girl born in Sao Paulo Brazil, reads two books by Nobel Prize Laureate Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer and feels “I have found my people”.

A few years later Nelly converts to Judaism, goes to a University, majors in Hebrew Language and Literature and becomes a teacher in a Jewish Day School. Now Nelly is the Rabbi of a synagogue in Danbury, Connecticut, USA. A Jewish soul has returned home. There are thousands of biographies like this, but most of them do not end up becoming a rabbi.

If you think you might have an ancestor who was Jewish, but no one in your family seems to know, you can use a introspective personality and character test to give you some hints.

1- Do you like to ask questions especially about religion? But when you asked them as a child, you were told faith is a gift from God and you shouldn’t question it. This never satisfied you, although others didn’t question it.

2- The trinity never made any sense to you even as a young child. You prayed to God the father more easily and more frequently than Jesus, the son of God, even though you were told to pray to Jesus. You never could believe that people who didn’t believe in Jesus couldn’t go to Heaven.

3- On first learning of the Holocaust you reacted more emotionally than your friends or other members of your family. You feel some sense of connection with the Jewish struggle to defend Israel.

4- You have an attraction to Jewish people, or to Judaism and Jewish culture. You have always been more open to people who were culturally, nationally or religiously different from your own family, than your friends or class mates.

If you answer yes to three of these four items you probably have Jewish ancestors. Many, but not all, people who answer yes to all four items will be interested in learning more about their Jewish roots. If you become very interested in studying Judaism you might have a Jewish soul.

According to Jewish mystical teachings (Kabbalah), many (not all) people reincarnate at least once after they die. This is especially true for Jews who died and had no Jewish children who survived them (Sefer HaPliyah).

Their souls reincarnate in one of their non-Jewish descendants who is drawn to: Jewish things, Jewish people and Judaism. If the following item also applies to you, you certainly have a Jewish soul.

5- When you start to learn about Judaism: the ideas and values seem reasonable to you; the traditions and heritage are very attractive to you; and the non-Jews around you as well as you yourself, are surprised when you slowly come to feel that you are coming home.

For most converts to Judaism an attraction to Jews as individuals, as families, or as a historical community that has survived many severe challenges for over 3,000 years, is a more important factor than particular religious beliefs. This is another sign of a Jewish soul returning home.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

One thought on “Why People Become Jewish – OpEd

  • August 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

    it is nice to hear the young girl did not like the false teaching of the Trinity, but therefore she did not have to leave Christian faith. There are enough real Christians who worship the only one True God, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

    A real Christian should know the teachings of the Jew Jeshua (Jesus Christ) and follow those teachings. He also should know the Torah and the covenant made with the preceding prophets, seeing and understanding that Israel, the Jewish people are God’s prefered people.
    Becoming part of non-trinitarian Christians is also a step taken into the direction of becoming part of the chosen by God. He allowed the gentiles to come close to Him and we should be pleased b y the sacrificial offering of Jeshua.

    As long as Jews do not recognise the prophet and master teacher Jeshua as the promised anointed sent one from God, the Christ or Messiah, by becoming Jew is denying this high position given to that man of flesh and blood.

    With Messianic Jews it would be different if it is a group which keeps truthful to the God of Abraham and did not go astray to a three-headed god or tri-unegod.


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