Sunday, March 23, 2008

The World of ‘Jews By Choice’ According to Schvach
by: Schvach Yid

I’ve recently taken up the habit of reading blogs by self-labelled ‘Jews by Choice’. I enjoy their accounts of discovery and self-fulfillment realized through the aegis of religious conversion to Judaism, which they relate through their writings.

First, I want to extend a hearty mazel tov to them all. Secondly, I wish to invite each and every one of them to stop sweating over their decisions to convert to Judaism. Lastly, I encourage these Jews to once and for all accept themselves as Jews. Evidently, some of them don’t; I do!

We Jews come in a great variety of sizes, shapes, complexions, nationalities, races, etc. You get the point. Some of us have succeeded in tracing our Jewish genealogies back many generations. A Simple Jew has posted one such account at; it’s a beautiful story told by Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin.

If you’re like me, then the account of one’s Jewish roots can only be traced for four generations or so, yet we are taught by our rabbis that we are Jews by virtue of our matrilineal descent from Sarah. The Kabbalistic account deals with ‘misplaced’ neshamot and their rediscovery. Frankly, I have no idea if my family’s Jewish identity extends back to Sarah, but my ‘Jewishness’ has never been called into question. It could be that my claim as a so-called ‘Jew by birth’ is an unintentional fraud – how can I knowledgably and accurately account for my maternal lineage from a Jewish Biblical origin?

Despite this very real possibility, I have never questioned my Jewish identity; I’m a Jew – the genuine article, and so too I accept converts to Judaism, without proviso.

For the purpose of highlighting our varied forms (I hate using the term ‘diverse’ – it’s become so politically charged, clichéd, and trite), here are some bits from YouTube. Again, the message is clear.


Anonymous said...

Hi there,

Thanks for the great post. It shows sensitivity and intelligence. As you probably know, my husband is a convert so I know very well how this all works. Not that he doubts himself but I do see people in the Jewish world who seem to take issue until they "verify" the type of and the hows of his conversion.

The bottom line is whether one does an orthodox conversion or not, if the basic standards of conversion have been met (circumsision or ritual cir., mikvah, and beit din) and the person practices...fine by me.

Thanks again

muse said...

Absolutely great post.

Schvach said...

Hello Tamara and Batya:
Thank you both for your positive reviews.

RivkA with a capital A said...

The Congregants of Beth Shalom in Chicago describe themselves as "Hebrew Israelites", not Jews. They also do not identify their religion as Judaims.

The see themselves as "African Americans who are the descendents of the Ancient Israelites."

They define themselves as the "true Jews" (as opposed to us, who are, by extension, fake Jews).

They do not see themselves as part of the Jewish people.

They are fundamentally different from the lost Jews that Shavei Yisrael is working so dilligently to help return to Judaism.

The link to their community is out of place here.

Also, the final link seems to be of the Makuya, who are very supportive of Israel and the Jewish people, but are not Jews themselves.

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