The Conversion Episode, 2018

Ep. 136: In honor of Shavuot, stories from people around the globe who have chosen to be Jewish

May 17, 2018

On Shavuot we read the Book of Ruth, which tells the story of Ruth, the first convert to Judaism, who ultimately becomes the great-grandmother of King David. In Ruth’s honor, this week we’re talking about conversion to Judaism, and hearing stories from people around the globe who have chosen to become Jewish—starting with our listeners. Reporter Abby Holtzman travels to Savannah, Georgia, to bring us the story of a 13-year-old girl who has taken the plunge, literally, to convert to Judaism. Rabbi Seth Farber, the director of ITIM, an advocacy organization that helps people convert to Judaism outside the Orthodox Rabbinate, explains the complexities of conversion in Israel, and how he’s trying to change that. Nathan Steiger shares his story of losing his Mormon faith and, together with his wife and daughters, embracing Orthodox Judaism and converting as a family. Naomi Telushkin (sister of our producer Shira Telushkin) and her fiancee, Ben Pigett, an Australian submariner converting to Judaism, discuss what Judaism—and Ben’s conversion—means to both of them. Listener Yolanda Wu tells us about her decision to finish her conversion 20 years after she started it—and the very Jewish life she and her family had been living in that time.

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This episode is sponsored by One Day University, which brings together the greatest professors from the world’s top schools to present special versions of their best lectures live. Register for upcoming events at using the code JEWISH for 30 percent off.

Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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