A decade ago (2008), Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky offered his own thoughtful and enduring article, written from a conservative point of view, on the subject of conversion — which he considered a preferable and potentially transformative alternative to intermarriage. “At a given moment,” he wrote, “a non-Jew is transformed from ‘outsider’ to ‘one of us.’ What changed that person?” What is the transformative moment?
Kalmanofsky suggested that the prospective convert may have passed through one or more “doors” [inserted numbers mine}:
1. “What doorway did s/he pass through, so that the s/he now counts in the minyan?
2. Was it a religious doorway?
3. An ethnic one?
4. An intellectual affirmation.
5. A faith act?
6. A mark on the body?
7. An orientation of the spirit?
8. Does conversion depend on one’s self-definition?
9. Or upon decisions by others, like rabbinic courts?
10. Or perhaps upon the informal willingness of Jews to recognize someone as family?”
Those of us who are born Jews may also reflect on the multiple
stages we pass through during the pathways of our lives?
Do we find enriching moments — our own transformative doorways — along the
way? Do we continue to grow spiritually? Or do we take the fact of Jewish birth ourspiritual citizenship — for granted?