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Tag: Conversion

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  • RCA must stand behind the conversions performed by its members

    November 28, 2016 | 2:44 pm

    Let us begin with the facts: Converts whose conversions were conducted according to halachah, or Jewish law, are 100 percent Jewish.

    In the eyes of God and Torah, they are full Jews, just as Jewish as any born Jews. Their Jewishness is not contingent on the Israeli Chief...

  • Conversion marked an important step on his pioneering path

    By Esther D. Kustanowitz

    September 7, 2016 | 11:44 am

    Technically, Claudio Estrada Jr. became a Jew on March 9, 2015, but “spiritually inside,” he said, “I was a Jew a long time ago.”

    Between rounds of Jewish geography, Estrada shared his journey into Jewish life with the Jewish Journal in a Google hangout interview from his office...

  • Shalom, Amar’e Stoudemire: Goodbye to the NBA’s Jewish star

    July 27, 2016 | 9:57 am

    For those obsessed with the search for Jewish big-time athletes, Amar’e Stoudemire, 33, was an unexpected dream and predictable heartbreaker — in short, the perfect punchline for a Jewish jocks joke.

    Finally, here was a bona fide NBA superstar who publicly identified with the...

  • Rabbi Lookstein withdraws from GOP convention

    By Jacob Kornbluh, Jewish Insider

    July 15, 2016 | 10:01 am

    Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, known as Ivanka Trump’s rabbi, has withdrawn from delivering the invocation at the Republican National Convention’s kickoff event next week amid a backlash by members of his modern Orthodox community in New York.

    Lookstein’s appearance was made public on...

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  • I lost my mom but found a family

    June 8, 2016 | 3:28 pm

    In 2003, I was 20 and living on the South Side of Chicago, in a dirty 10,000-square-foot warehouse with six roommates and four cats. There was a mysterious fungus, shaped like a human ear, growing in the corner of my room, and I did nothing about it. A typical day consisted of...

  • The everyday deity

    June 8, 2016 | 3:03 pm

    I was not a Jew; now I am. 

    I did not believe in God; now I do.

    In 2009, I was an atheist. By 2013, I was a theist and a Jew. Today, my beliefs live among the other things that, while miraculous, are routine. When I need to breathe, there is air. When it’s time to walk or lie...

  • The defense of (converting for) marriage act

    By Kylie Ora Lobell

    June 8, 2016 | 2:56 pm

    Last July, I converted to Judaism after five years of studying and undergoing major lifestyle changes: I moved to a Jewish neighborhood, started keeping kosher, took off for Shabbat and the holidays, joined an Orthodox synagogue and learned with a chavrusa

    Today, my observance...

  • Palestinian conversion requests rejected automatically, Israeli official says

    April 1, 2016 | 1:24 pm

    Israel’s authority handling conversions to Judaism rejects Palestinian applicants without review because of their ethnic origin, its head said.

    Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, director of the Israeli government’s Conversion Authority, spoke about his organization’s handling of requests by...

  • The Conversion exchange, part 2: How strict is the Israeli public when it comes to Jewish identity?

    By Shmuel Rosner

    September 2, 2015 | 4:13 am

    Dr. Netanel Fisher is a visiting lecturer at Israel’s Open University and head of a research group at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. Dr. Fisher holds a PhD from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has served as a an adjunct lecturer at the Hebrew University and as an...

  • Jenna Jameson on her new spiritual journey to Judaism

    August 19, 2015 | 11:47 am

    In a cozy apartment near The Grove, in the heart of Los Angeles, lives an unlikely couple. He is Lior Bitton, 41, an immigrant from Israel and a diamond broker. She is perhaps the world’s most famous porn star, Jenna Jameson.

    Since her June announcement that she is converting to...

  • Wrapped up in Rainbows, but consumed by hate.

    By Diana Emuna

    July 9, 2015 | 8:09 am

    When I started writing this blog, I gave the relationship with my relative.  It was too hard. It was suggested I make it more generic and I have done that.  I also apologize for the length of this blog, but I felt the details were important.

    Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court...

  • Conversion Complications - why is it so hard to convert to Judaism?

    By Noga Gur-Arieh

    May 13, 2015 | 8:31 am

    When Jenny Magril’s family made Aliyah from Belarus, she did not feel any different from the rest of the kids in her class. She celebrated the same holidays, spoke the same language and felt just as Jewish as the rest of them. Only according to the Jewish Law she was considered a...

  • Beyond Chocolate Bunnies and Passover Baskets

    By Diana Emuna

    April 15, 2015 | 6:06 pm

    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...

  • 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 Ora Lobell

    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 Ora Lobell

    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 Ora Lobell

    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 Ora Lobell

    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 Ora Lobell

    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...

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