This is one of those rare books that delivers much more than it promises. It offers a detailed, subtle, and, most astonishingly, objective account of Orthodox opinions on one of the most important issues of contemporary Jewish life--conversion to Judaism. But as a preface to this, the authors trace how converts have been treated in sacred Jewish literature.
The book is very useful as background for anyone who wishes to understand and debate contemporary Jewish life and to follow the intense debate, especially in Israel, over this issue. It's a serious book, scholarly rather than popular. It's hard, though, to imagine a more interesting or valuable book on the subject.
on January 21, 2015
This book is generally very good.
1. There is a good, strong index and bibliography.
2. The research appears to be very thorough and exhaustive.
There are some things that could have made this book a lot better:
1. The sourcing of the references is such that it is very difficult to know where to go to find them;
2. There are many Hebrew words written in transliteration. It might have been nice to have the word written in Hebrew in parenthesis.
Who is this book for?
1. Obviously, it is for Rabbis that want a broad discussion of conversion law over the past couple of hundred years.
2. It can be useful for a potential convert who wants to have an idea of where a Beit Din is coming from in accepting him or rejecting him. (I am trying to get an Orthodox conversion and am having a lot of problems with the Beit Din. This gives me a decent number of sources with which I can press my petition.)
Even if the Jews who wrote it are Reform/ Secular, that does not seem to diminish from the scholarship in any way.
Verdict: Recommended at the new price.
on February 16, 2013
I was drawn in by the author's skillful examination and elucidation of how the struggle to address and respond to assimilation played out in the context of conversion responsa. Time and time again our earlier sages were called upon to address the same problems facing us today - which is more effective, the carrot or the stick? If we are accepting of exogamy by making conversion easier, are we encouraging it? This is a must read for anyone struggling with strategies for Jewish continuity or simply interested in the interplay between Jewish law and societal forces.