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Jewish Journal

Tag: Conversion

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  • Beyond Chocolate Bunnies and Passover Baskets

    By Diana Emuna

    4 days ago

    As I prepared for Passover last week, one of my co-workers asked me if I made “Passover baskets” for my kids.  When I replied no, she asked, “You mean your kids don’t get bunnies and Easter eggs?”

    And so it begins.

    Soon, my co-workers file in and the questions begin.  I am...

  • Escorting a Soul

    By Diana Emuna

    March 9, 2015 | 11:30 am

    My friend’s mother died this week.  The world is a little less friendly, less warm and less kind without her.   She was a lady who had a warm smile and was lovely to talk to.

    When a parent of a friend dies, I think of my own experience.  My dad died when I was a teenager.  He...

  • Q&A with Jorma Kaukonen on Jefferson Airplane and Judaism

    February 27, 2015 | 11:17 am

    Jorma Kaukonen, who played guitar in classic rock bands Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, has just released his first solo album since 2009.

    While Kaukonen’s guitar skills are legendary, few people know that he bought his first electric guitar by cashing Israel Bonds he received...

  • What “Charlie” knows

    By Diana Emuna

    January 11, 2015 | 6:43 am

    Stephane Charbonnier of Charlie Hebdot was unafraid. Charlie Hebdot published cartoons that made fun of Christians, Jews and Muslims.  Charbonnier said  he would rather “die on his feet than live on his knees.”  He and his colleagues knew the risks.  They were threatened and their...

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  • Why would a nice girl like you want to become a Jew?*

    By Diana Emuna

    December 13, 2014 | 11:46 pm

    From the time I was little, I wanted to be a part of the Jewish people.  I have no deep reasoning for that.  I found out about the Jews at Sunday school, and knew that is where I belonged.  The stork dropped me off at the wrong house. 

    In our home, there was no mention of Jews...

  • Is she Jewish? Rabbinate says yes, Israel says no

    November 5, 2014 | 10:31 am

    In 2012, Anna Varsanyi was married in an Orthodox Jewish ceremony conducted through Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

    Two years later, the Hungarian immigrant has made a life in Israel, settling with her husband in the central city of Modiin and working a desk job in a hospital. She is...

  • For some Orthodox converts, biggest challenges come after mikvah

    November 4, 2014 | 10:31 am

    There was the convert who was barred from a synagogue on Yom Kippur, the Jamaican convert whose boyfriend’s rabbi offered him a coveted synagogue honor if only he’d dump her, the grandmother who told her granddaughter she’d be going to hell because she became a Jew.

    The road to...

  • Israel moves to ease path to conversion for those not considered Jewish

    November 3, 2014 | 2:34 pm

    The Israeli government has adopted a major reform expected to ease the path to conversion for hundreds of thousands of Israelis now prohibited from marrying in the Jewish state.

    In the most significant response in decades to the estimated 400,000 Israelis who are not considered...

  • For prospective Orthodox converts, process marked by fear and uncertainty

    October 28, 2014 | 1:06 pm

    Tzipporah Laura LaFianza and her family have been living as Orthodox Jews for four years now. They reside in a heavily Jewish suburb of Washington, go to shul every Shabbat and keep a strictly kosher kitchen.

    But they’re not Jewish — yet.

    A prospective Orthodox convert,...

  • A Jewish conversion, three generations in the making

    By Kylie Jane Wakefield

    September 17, 2014 | 2:59 pm

    During World War II, Mileva Popovic hid four Jewish families from the Nazis in her home in the former Yugoslavia, now Montenegro. After Mileva’s son Vladimir found out about his family history, he started to learn about Judaism and became fascinated by its teachings.

    Vladimir...

  • Conversion: George Guzman

    By Kylie Jane Wakefield

    April 2, 2014 | 1:50 pm

    George Guzman, 45, grew up in a Catholic home in Corona, Calif., and though he served as an altar boy at his local church, he never felt connected with the religion. In 1995, he turned his back on Catholicism forever.

    It happened when Guzman, who now lives in Long Beach and works...

  • In rural Uganda, small Jewish community splits over conversion

    March 24, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    On Fridays at sundown, the Jewish residents of this village set amid the lush hills of eastern Uganda gather in the synagogue to greet Shabbat.

    The room is bare, the light is dim and the Conservative prayer books are worn. But the spare surroundings do little to diminish the...

  • Natalie Portman’s husband says he is converting

    January 29, 2014 | 2:33 pm

    French choreographer Benjamin Millepied, the husband of Jewish actress Natalie Portman, told an Israeli newspaper that he is converting to Judaism.

    Millepied told the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot in an article published Wednesday that he is “in the middle of the conversion...

  • After much searching, she finds hope in adopted faith

    By Kylie Jane Wakefield

    January 3, 2014 | 3:20 pm

    Growing up in Colorado, Laura Waller wasn’t raised with a religion. She knew nothing about Judaism, save for the Torah — which she read as a teenager — and her community’s negative attitudes toward it.

    “I didn’t exactly grow up in a town where being Jewish was acceptable,” she...

  • Why Bush shouldn’t talk to the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute

    By Rob Eshman

    November 12, 2013 | 1:07 pm

    A media firestorm kicked up last week after Mother Jones broke the story that President George W. Bush was to be the keynote speaker at the annual fundraiser of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute on Nov. 14. 

    I blogged about the news as soon as I heard about it, and I’ve now...

  • Conversion: Erica Hooper

    By Kylie Jane Wakefield

    October 9, 2013 | 11:53 am

    Falling in love with a Jewish man was Erica Hooper’s introduction to Judaism, but the religion’s ideals were ultimately what made her want to embrace it for life. 

    Hooper, 30, grew up in East Los Angeles in a Catholic home. She attended Catholic school and considered herself...

  • Conversion: Kimia Sun

    By Kylie Jane Wakefield

    September 4, 2013 | 11:56 am

    Kimia Sun was born a refugee. 

    Her parents were survivors of Cambodia’s Khmer Rogue, which claimed nearly 2 million lives in the late 1970s. The couple was among the lucky ones and escaped to a refugee camp in Thailand, where Sun was born and spent her first months. Next, the...

  • Convert: Rico Collins

    August 7, 2013 | 1:24 pm

    Rico Collins, 39, was raised Southern Baptist in Jacksonville, Fla., but could never relate to the messages he heard in church as a boy. “It’s very fire and brimstone,” he said. “I didn’t like it.” 

    Collins said he didn’t fit in with the other kids at church and felt alienated...

  • Conversion: A big leap, one small step at a time

    June 6, 2013 | 2:33 pm

    Jazmine Green’s Jewish journey began when she met the person with whom she wanted to spend the rest of her life. It wasn’t until a brief separation from her boyfriend, however, that she knew she was making the right decision — to convert.

    “There was this assumption that since we...

  • Israel’s mikvahs open to non-Orthodox conversions, official clarifies

    May 23, 2013 | 9:21 am

    Clarifying existing policy, the office of Israel’s deputy religious services minister said Israel’s state-sponsored mikvahs are open for use for Conservative and Reform conversions.

    Wednesday’s announcement, said a spokesperson for Eli Ben Dahan, does not change existing policy....

  • Conversion 101

    May 8, 2013 | 11:31 am

    Conversion to Judaism is not easy. It requires a change in beliefs, actions and lifestyle. It involves extensive study, practice, a leap of faith, a shift in perception and some sacrifice. However, for those who feel it’s the right decision, it can be an exciting and rewarding...

  • Becoming Jewish: Tales from the Mikveh

    By Susan Freudenheim

    May 8, 2013 | 11:18 am

    Late on a recent Wednesday afternoon, Judith Golden and Suzanne Rosenthal perched at their desks in a small room in the depths of American Jewish University (AJU). It was a quiet day on campus; only a trickle of students occupied the new community library, the classrooms were...

  • Conversion: An Irish Catholic comes ‘home’ to Judaism

    March 21, 2013 | 4:42 am

    Growing up Catholic in Ireland can be intense, and it may be one reason why Philomena Wallace decided to become a Jew.

    “There were too many questions and no answers when I was Irish Catholic,” said Wallace, who grew up in the small village of Wexford. “It was a very strict...

  • Converting: The best decision of her life

    March 7, 2013 | 3:34 am

    When Donna Levine told her mother she had converted, the response was that she would burn in hell. A friend encouraged Levine to join Jews for Jesus. She had to explain to this friend that, unfortunately, that wouldn’t work.

    “I told her that if you are really serious about being...

  • Israeli group files lawsuit asking Interior Ministry to recognize converts

    February 27, 2013 | 8:42 am

    An Israeli advocacy group filed a lawsuit seeking the recognition of all Orthodox conversions performed in Israel.

    The Jewish Advocacy Center for ITIM: the Jewish Life Information Center petitioned the Supreme Court last week calling on the Interior Ministry to recognize the...

  • Double-dip conversion

    By Jared Baker

    January 30, 2013 | 4:17 pm

    When Jennifer Harrison-Gomez decided to convert to Judaism, her husband, Brian Gomez, followed suit.

    At 8 years old, Jennifer saw a film about Judaism that sparked her interest. In middle school, she read “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which further intrigued her. As an adult, she...

  • An example to her children

    January 9, 2013 | 11:55 am

    Fourteen years ago, Catherine and Bruce Penso’s oldest daughter, Leah, was ready to become a bat mitzvah. But before her big day, Leah told her parents that she wanted to go to the mikveh and formally convert. 

    Catherine and her younger daughter, Rebecca, decided to join Leah in...

  • Letters to the Editor: Prager on murder, Spiritual care, Christmas Mitzvah, Seeking former students

    January 2, 2013 | 3:14 pm

    Prager on Murder

    It is quite something to read Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion dean Joshua Holo’s caricature Dennis Prager as reckless, heedless, gratuitously hostile and a provocateur “painting in broad strokes of facile caricature” (Letters, Dec. 21), when...

  • Challenges and celebrations

    December 5, 2012 | 3:19 pm

    When Andromeda Stevens, 46, found herself falling in love with Judaism, she knew it was time to convert.

    She and her husband, Glenn Stevens, who live in Beverlywood, started living a Jewish life together years before they were married, and Andromeda converted after the wedding....

  • Finding Judaism through music

    November 16, 2012 | 2:01 pm

    For Chris Hardin, converting to Judaism was a family affair. 

    In November 1994, Hardin, then 38, stepped into the mikveh. That day, his daughter and wife did the same. 

    Hardin’s conversion process began when he met his future wife, Jennifer, on a cruise ship. He was directing...

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