During the last four months or so I have encountered a number of Gerim. For those who are not MOT you can translate this to mean someone who has converted to Judaism or you can use the headline Jew By Choice.
However, I need to add that from a personal standpoint I am not real fond of applying Jew By Choice strictly to those who have converted as I like to think of myself as being a Jew By Choice. That is, I choose to be Jewish because I want to be not just because I was born a Jew.
That brings me to the next point which is that I find it interesting to hear why people convert to Judaism. It is not something that you hear about every day. There are a variety of reasons for it, some of them are based upon historical incidents in which proselytization of non-Jews was dangerous.
If you are interested you can find some background on conversion and topics surrounding it by starting here. In the interim I have a different focus for this post.
One of the challenges of being brought up with a particular faith or set of values is that we often do not take the time to really question why we believe what we believe. We simply watch our parents and mimic their behavior. “Dad was Democrat and so am I,” blah, blah, blah.
In concept this doesn’t sound like a problem but in reality I think that there are issues with it. The area that takes primacy is a question of values. What values are important to you and why. They may not be the same as your parents. That doesn’t automatically disqualify or lessen their importance.
From my standpoint I think that it is important for people to consider what they believe and why. I like to understand why I think it is important to act/behave in a certain fashion. I want to know my principles well enough to explain them in a clear and succinct fashion. It helps me to understand myself and what place I want to take in the world around me. It also helps to guide me in guiding my children.
So when I look at people who convert to Judaism I view them as someone who has taken time to consider their beliefs and reached a place in which they see Judaism as filling a natural and important role. And I see them as often having a deeper and better understanding of why they are Jews than many of us who were born Jewish. And to me that is valuable.
What do you think?