This morning my inbox contained an email from Heeb magazine declaring: “Paul McCartney to convert.” In light of his recent marriage to Jewess Nancy Shevell, a blog post on the magazine’s Website boasts, “Word on the street is that he promised the missus he’d become a Member of the Tribe, and is preparing himself for the big day.”
Nevermind that this is specious hearsay (what won’t the struggling Heeb do for attention?), it is also highly unlikely.
3 reasons why Paul McCartney is probably not converting:
1) According to the National Enquirer, esteemed truth-teller and origin of this rumor, Shevell “takes her religion seriously” and so McCartney is “studying Judaism and promised his new bride he’ll convert.” Fact: Shevell takes Judaism seriously enough that she attended Yom Kippur services the day before her wedding, and McCartney accompanied her. Fact: The couple was married in a civil ceremony at a London register office and no firsthand reports of the occasion mentioned the inclusion of any Jewish wedding rituals (that means, no chupah, no rabbi, no glass-stomp, no Hebrew). Even if we were to give them the benefit of the doubt, what is the likelihood that a woman who takes her Judaism so seriously would marry a non-Jewish man and then insist he convert after the wedding?
2) McCartney was married to a Jewish woman before—his first wife, Linda ‘Eastman’ when they met, was Jewish—and McCartney did not feel compelled to convert then.
3) McCartney was born Roman Catholic but grew up in a secular environment. I surmise that religious impulses probably do not stream through his blood, and that his artistic inclinations may satisfy his spiritual appetite. In fact, he said as much in a 2006 interview with BBC News.
“Every time I come to write a song there’s this sort of magic little thing where I go, “Ooh, ooh, it’s happening again. Ooh, ooh, ooh.” I’m just thrilling myself with this sort of thing. And I do it all the time. I just sort of sit down at the piano and go, “Oh, my God. I don’t know this one.” And suddenly there’s like a song there. It’s something I love. And, like I say, I find the magic in it so—it’s a faith thing….With creativity, I just have a faith. It’s not a faith of any particular religion because I worry that religions start wars. It’s a great spiritual belief that there is something really great there that I probably refer to as a spirit of goodness.”
Even if McCartney were to take an interest in Judaism and begin a study practice, that does not mean a conversion will follow. Chelsea Clinton, for instance, married the Jewish Marc Mezvinsky, included several Jewish rituals in her wedding, was partly married by a rabbi, but did not convert. (Ivanka Trump, however, did.)
People join religions for various reasons: community, spiritual connection, structure, study, you name it. At 64, it is doubtful McCartney will suddenly feel some huge void in his life that can only be filled by religion. His community needs, I’m guessing, have been met; he is already a giver, a believer and probably finds spiritual discipline in his work. That’s not to say Judaism has nothing to offer McCartney, but what it could offer to someone who is already culturally and spiritually sophisticated would take another 64 years and lots of hard work to find out.