Converts to Judaism: Stories from Biblical Times to Today

Lawrence J. Epstein. Rowman & Littlefield, $37 (222p) ISBN 978-1-4422-3467-3
Who knew that Sammy Davis Jr. was a convert to Judaism who refused to perform on Yom Kippur, or that Ivanka Trump converted when she married Jared Kushner in 2009? Epstein provides a fascinating read about the various people who have converted to Judaism over centuries, and the circumstances of their conversions. Many of those converts faced extreme reactions: the family of Warder Cresson, for example, had him committed to a mental institution in 1848. Epstein organizes material into eight chapters, covering different historical periods, from converts mentioned in the Bible up to modern conversion in the United States and Israel. Each chapter contains anecdotes, reflections from rabbinical authorities of the period, and discussion of the clashing viewpoints on conversion among Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox Jews. Concluding with a chapter on lessons from this history, Epstein admits he is strongly in favor of conversion. “This is especially crucial in a Jewish age marked by increased intermarriage and increased assimilation,” he writes. Superbly researched and insightful, Epstein’s work takes readers on an enlightening journey through Jewish history. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 01/01/2015
Genre: Religion
Open Ebook - 218 pages - 978-1-4422-3468-0
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