Should Jews Seek Converts?
At least 30% of American adults switch religions.
Someone who converts to Judaism is called a Jew-by-choice. In Hebrew the convert is called a ger (male) or gioret (female) and the plural is gerim. The conversion process is called gerut.
Conversion to Judaism is usually not concerned with salvation, sin, guilt. Nor is conversion to Judaism a result of a sudden revelation.
Often people become Jewish after a great deal of soul searching and studying and the person is given plenty of opportunity to change his or her mind.
Should Jews seek converts? Most Jews would answer no.
There are three main reasons why Jews do not seek converts:
- Judaism has never taught that one has to be Jewish to be saved. Humans are all God’s children. The righteous of all people shall have a share in the next world. Jews do not seek to convert other to Judaism, but rather Jews seek to convert others to pursue justice and peace. Judaism is the only major religion to constantly teach this.
- Jews have a historic distaste for missionary work due to attempts by Christian missionaries to forcibly convert Jews. Jews were often given incentives (social and economic advantages) to convert to Christianity. Since a number of Jews converted for the sake of personal advancement, many Jews grew to believe most conversions are insincere.
- Historically, it was a capital offense to convert to Judaism. When Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire in the fourth century, conversion to Judaism became a capital offense. The Spanish Inquisition reinstituted capital punishment for the crime of converting to Judaism. In the Muslim world it is also a crime to convert to Judaism.
Yet if Judaism is a worthwhile religion, aren’t Jews obligated to share it with others?
If Jews do not try to convert, are Jews looked upon as elitists?
Since many Jews-by-birth are marginally Jewish, shouldn’t the Jewish community promote conversion for the sake of survival?
Mobilerabbi strongly believes that the Jewish community must do a better job of encouraging others to convert to Judaism. Gerim must be warmly welcomed into the Jewish community.
Gerim are as authentically Jewish as any Jew-by-birth.