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Ordained to Be a Jew: A Catholic Priest's Conversion to Judaism Hardcover – July, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Scalamonti, a lecturer and writer, offers an account of his spiritual odyssey as a young American Catholic priest who, having lost faith in his birth religion, becomes an Orthodox Jew. Scalamonti candidly describes his seminary training, eventual ordination, and growing disillusionment with the theology, teachings, and practices of his church. This ultimately leads to a loss of faith and a departure from the priesthood. Once out in the secular world, he is introduced to Orthodox Judaism through an Orthodox Jewish woman and her family, and he converts after much soul-searching. While definitely not a diatribe against Catholicism, this is a revealing memoir of an individual who finds spiritual truth not in his ancestral religion but in the parent faith from which it sprang. This moving ac count will interest Jew and gentile alike.
- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Ktav; 1st edition (July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881254126
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881254129
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. Scalamonti goes through a complete transformation from a very religious Catholic who wants (and succeeds) in becoming a Catholic Priest to his questioning of everything in the priesthood, to his conversion and immersion into Judaism. I hear alot of people talking about how glad they are to be "Jewish" but they do not really fulfill what being Jewish entails. Scalamonti describes in beautiful detail REAL Judaism. Not about hearts and stomachs, he describes many of the wonderful rituals behind Judaism. I think that he describes his dissasistifaction with Christianity in a respectable way (and after all, he DID get the FULL experience). This book is a very excellent read&is widely recommended not only to people interested in converting to Judaism, but Jews who want to have more meaning out of their life as well.
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Format: Hardcover
John Scalamonti tells of his journey from training to be a Catholic priest to becoming an Othodox Jew.The book is divided equally between his training to become a priest and his eventual departure from the priesthood at which time he loses all support from the church and starts working in restaurants. It is here that he meets the woman who eventually becomes his wife. She is an observant, Orthodox Jew.
John Scalamonti converts to Orthodox Judaism and relates how difficult it is as well as how fulfilling it is. He is in many cases not accepted by Jews or Christians. He mentions how a new Christian would be welcomed with open arms by other Christians while his conversion to Judaism was a quiet affair, not attended by others.
I believe that Jews and those interested in converting to Judaism would be interested in this book because of the Jewish teachings it presents, and the encouragement given to born Jews to become more involved in their Jewish faith which John loves so much. Christians might not be as interested in the book,because after all, John did convert to Judaism.
In a review by John Scalamonti above, he mentions that he is available for talks, but no e-mail address is given. Perhaps he could add that for folks who might like to contact him.
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By A Customer on October 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Scalamonti explains his gradual disillusionment with the church and his discovery and acceptance of Judaism. It is very important to recognize that in writing this book, he is in no way trying to convert Christians away from their faith. He is trying to explain why he, himself, converted.
This book is not only for people who may be contemplating conversion to Judaism, but also for Jews who may not see the beauty of Judaism for themselves and therefore cannot understand why someone would choose to become Jewish. After reading this book, I believe that he wrote it primarily for this latter group - to inspire assimilated and ambivalent Jews to appreciate their own heritage and religion more.
The writing style is smooth and easy to read. It is interstingly written and hard to put down.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book through a Jewish website on conversion. I ordered it from Amazon, and read it in a day! I was amazed at how similar our spiritual journeys were, even though I was not Catholic. His courage to follow his own spiritual path inspired me to step out in faith and to convert. His book details the conflict with his family which usually (and inevitably) follows conversion.
John David Scalamonte is truly an inspiration and a pioneer to those of us searching for meaning and truth in a world of man-made religions. His experiences will inspire anyone seeking to follow his own spiritual path.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is NOT a scathing condemnation of Catholic Christianity. It is also NOT an exhortation to the Christian community to adopt Judaism instead.
Rather, it is a (at times even sad or nostalgic) memoir of a man who wanted to believe... but who at the same time couldn't blind himself to the flaws in the teachings with which he was raised.
It would be good reading for any Catholics or Christians who are thinking of conversion to Judaism, obviously, but also for those who are actively questioning the authenticity of their Catholic heritage and seek an articulate viewpoint which is well-grounded both within and from outside traditional Catholic thought.
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By A Customer on March 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I could identify very well with not only Mr. Scalamonti's emotions and questions regarding the Catholic Church, but also many similar experiences. I too, converted to Judaism. I had also wanted to persue the priesthood but found myself questioning Catholocism more and more until I could no longer attend church in good conscience. Mr. Scalamonti effectively chronicles the difficulties he had with Catholic Doctrine. I found my same difficulties in many ways mirrored his. I would recommend this book to anyone questioning their faith and coming up short on answers. You may not find the answers here, but rather the courage to follow your heart and mind to search out how to make G_d a part of your life.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a quick and easy read, and it's obvious that Mr. Scalamonti's spiritual journey and the doubts he had about his faith of origin were very sincere, genuine, and heartfelt. His love for first Catholicism and later Judaism were really evident. John's love of his first religion went way back; when he was a small boy he often played being a priest, leading Mass, and giving Communion. Basically as far as he could remember he wanted to be a priest, so much so he secretly wrote to a priest at a junior seminary about this wish and how his mother didn't approve. The priest visited the house and eventually swayed John's mother to let him go, at 14 years old. Even though many Catholic families in this time in history wanted at least one son to be a priest, Mrs. Scalamonti didn't want John, her firstborn, to be the one to do that. After leaving for the junior seminary, John spent the rest of his adolescence and his early adulthood in strict and highly-regimented training and living conditions, going from junior seminary to the adult-level seminary and then on to his novitiate and finally becoming ordained as a priest at long last. It's the happiest day of his life when he celebrates his first Mass, but before long his life's obsession begins to disappoint him and he runs into all sorts of trouble with the higher-ups.

This is the primary reason why the book is dated; John became a priest in the early days of Vatican II, and was really excited over the sweeping changes it brought, but the higher-ups didn't feel the same way. He was happily running a mission catering to the dregs of society, hippies, broken families, people marginalised by the Church, but the priests in charge were very uncomfortable with that kind of element.
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