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Choosing to Be Jewish: The Orthodox Road to Conversion Hardcover – June 30, 2005


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Choosing to Be Jewish: The Orthodox Road to Conversion + To Be A Jew: A Guide To Jewish Observance In Contemporary Life + Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 137 pages
  • Publisher: Ktav Pub Inc (June 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881258903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881258905
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #368,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this compelling, informative, and easy-to-read analysis of conversion to Judaism, Angel draws on his many years of experience as an Orthodox rabbi who has performed countless conversions to entreat the Orthodox community to be more open-minded in its approach to conversion candidates. Angel submits that although the last 200 years have seen increased opposition to Jewish conversion, historically this was not always the case; therefore, converts who exhibit sincere interest and a bona fide desire to join the Jewish community and abide by halakha (Jewish law) should be encouraged and welcomed. Within his assessment of why people choose to convert, he examines candidates who have found their way to Judaism through a journey of the intellect and spirit; others who wish to marry a Jew; some who have unearthed Jewish ancestry; and still others who aspire to live in Israel among the Jewish people. Interspersed are poignant personal stories submitted by converts of all backgrounds that should successfully aid in convincing opponents. By bringing historic, Talmudic and societal evidence for his plea to respond to the need of converting proselytes via Orthodox requirements (minimizing the alternative of Conservative or Reform conversions, which are considered invalid by the Orthodox community), Angel powerfully demonstrates not only the issue's urgency, but its permissibility as well. (Dec.)
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Customer Reviews

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It gave us help and hope.
M. D.
So basically, this book stands in as a "nice, bound companion"; and collection of very encouraging words and stories.
Shona
I also believe it should be required reading for anyone wanting to convert to Judaism.
Ehav Eliyahu Ever

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Shona on October 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that is much needed today. The non-Orthodox movements of Judaism publish tons of material on conversion or for their converts. Those who desire to convert via the Orthodox route have a much smaller selection of resources which are available to them.

Rabbi Angel discusses conversion not only as a halachaic recipe; but as a process that involves many aspects -- most importantly, a non-Jew that has an incredible pull to become Jewish. Well clearly stating that Judaism does not seek out converts, Rabbi Angel also makes it clear that Orthodox rabbis should not completely shut them out either; which can cause the situation of them turning to non-Orthodox (hence non-halachaic) congregations for conversions. This only fuels the problem of having "Jewish identifying gentiles" caught up in this hopeless limbo status in Judaism (and for women, their children as well).

Rabbi Angel also does not skirt around the issue of the desire to convert after getting romantically involved with a Jew; a gray area that is a reality in modern Jewish life. A very helpful feature of this book are all of the personal essays from people who underwent an Orthodox conversion; many which have the person in a relationship with a Jew. These stories can give a convert-to-be a lot of encouragement and strength that they otherwise would not be able to get.

As much as I like this book, especially for presenting the crucial topics regarding Orthodox conversion, I could not give it 5 stars because in my experience (I've been pursuing Orthodox conversion for around 2 years), most Rabbis do not really share his attitude towards conversion.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Schwartz on October 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rabbi Angel addresses problems in the current system of conversion. The Talmud says that rabbis should push a convert away with the weaker left hand and draw them nearer with the stronger right hand, but nowadays many rabbis are apparently left-handed! Many converts perceive much more pushing away than being drawn near.

This book is not a "how to" guide for converts as much as a discussion of Rabbi Angel's philosophy of conversion for Orthodox rabbis and interested laiety. This is the second modern critique of the conversion system; the first was published by a left-wing Orthodox organization and could therefore have no effect. By contrast, Rabbi Angel is a true moderate, respected across the entire political spectrum, and his book could make a difference.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ehav Eliyahu Ever on April 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I lived in New York, I learned from Rabbi Angel during his Rambam classes at the Spanish Portuguese synagogue in New York and I will say that I truly respect his perspective in both class and in this book. Choosing to Be Jewish by Rabbi Marc Angel takes one through the historical and legal issues that revolve around the conversion process in Judaism. This book also covers the Orthodox format of such and the issues concerning conversions through other methods.

Yet, most important this is a personal book that not only laments the problems that exist in some areas of how it is carried out today but it also covers the reliability of the process in the Orthodox community. Rabbi Angel provides stories of conversations that were successful due to a balanced approach to the process as well as the stories of the people who either returned to a lively and vibrant Judaism because of the process or who became observant Jews due to the process. He also does not bow to any pressure to assume that their is a problem in the tenants of Orthodox conversions, but Rabbi Angel deals with the reasons that a fresh look at how potential Geirim (Converts) should be handled.

As has been mentioned before this book is not meant to be a strict 1, 2, 3 this is how you convert, it is meant to help both those who convert and those who would convert them understand the Orthodox perspective, and some of the problems that exist with some of situations. So even though it is not a 1, 2, 3 how to it can help a potential convert understand the issues thus helping avoid shame or major problems. The book also gives pieces written by people who have completed the conversion process to Judaism, and their personal stories.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. D. on January 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Conversion to judaism is never an easy thing. Unfortunatelly, orthodox rabbis tend to dismotivate it and often create barriers to one who is trying to join our people. This book shows people that conversion isn't an impossible thing, although difficult and shows what people have been through when dealing with this factor.

To be absolutelly perfect, this book could contain a certain Orthodox Rabbis Directory who acepts dealing with such a delicate matter or, at least, tell how to aproach an orthodox rabbi to discuss this. Anyways, I really recommend the book to whomever is considering conversion.

I would like to thank Rabbi Marc D. Angel for writing this book. It gave us help and hope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sharon J. Frost on April 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rabbi Marc Angel delivers a comprehensible, succint overview of the conversion process. He compassionately addresses all of the issues and concerns that a potential convert might have. Reading the book made me believe that conversion was an acheiveable goal.
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