In its forthcoming issue, Moment magazine offers an instructive history of conversion to Judaism followed by first person accounts of what made some folks do it. The narratives are fairly straightforward, save the occasional observation from the province of the improbable. Former Mormon Karen Nielson-Anson speculates that playing Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof “probably lit the fire,” even though Fruma Sarah is the scary dead wife of Lazar Wolf and her ghost visits Tevye in a nightmare (well, that’s the story Tevye tells his own wife, at least). Tinamarie Bernard, the great-granddaughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, asserts her conversion had nothing to do with inherited guilt but with having “a Jewish neshemah [soul] all along that just needed a chance to take off.” And Hank Eng observes “I love knishes,” a declaration that is ludicrously out of place amidst legit reasons to totally change your religious orientation (we like wafers, especially the Necco kind, but aren’t thinking of taking communion any time).
Then there’s Y-Love, the Orthodox African-American rapper, who recalls seeing “a TV commercial that said ‘Happy Passover from your friends at Channel 2’” when he was a wee boy of 7. It blew his mind so utterly he subsequently proclaimed, “Mommy, I want to be Jewish.” Is that all it takes? Golly—imagine the mess that could’ve been avoided had Ogilvy & Mather been around during the Crusades.
The New Jewish Convert [Moment]