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Long Overdue Conversion in the News Roundup

“As they say, ‘third time’s a charm” (Jerusalem Post) 11-4-2009

In Circumcise Me (the film and now an off-Broadway show), Catholic-born comedian, Yisrael Campbell, recounts his journey from Christianity to Orthodox Judaism – a spiritual transformation and physical ordeal that involved not one, not two, but yes, three symbolic circumcisions. Don’t miss his off-Broadway show, Circumcise Me.

“Yisrael Campbell Slices Schmeckle Thrice, Now Stars in Off-Broadway Show” (Heeb Magazine)

An illuminating and hysterical interview with convert Yisrael Campbell in the Heeb Magazine.

“Ministers Reject Conversion Protection Bill” ( 11/1/2009

Boo! To those who rejected a bill that would make it illegal to undo conversions to Judaism.

MK Molla said, “It’s a policy that harasses immigrants, precisely those people who have chosen to live their lives in Israel in spite of the difficulties. The Labor and Yisrael Beiteinu parties are once again folding up the flag of immigrant absorption and when put to the test, they wave a white flag and submit to the hareidim.

“Comedian Aaron Freeman to appear at Hadassah’s “HA HA HA” in West Hartford” (Jewish Ledger) 11-4-2009

Hilarious comedian and African-American convert to Judaism, Aaron Freeman talks race, Judaism and telling jokes.

“Conversion with confusion” ( 11-8-2009

Get married in Israel? Not if you’re a convert!

“Many converts wishing to get married face objections by chief city rabbis, religious councils who refuse to register them, claiming they ‘do not observe mitzvot.’”

“The double lives of Jewish converts in Israel” (Jerusalem Post) 11-7-2009

Rabbi Dr. Ed Rettig, acting director of the American Jewish Committee’s Israel Office, and Rabbi Dr. Seth Farber , founder and director of ITIM: the Jewish Life Information Center, write about why Jewish converts in Israel are leading double lives as second-class citizens.

“Two-Way Giving: Student Docents Make Big Commitment” (Forward) 11-11-2009

Docents for the greatly expanded National Museum of American Jewish History opening next year in Philadelphia include converts and non-Jewish Hispanics.

“British Jewry’s Self-Inflicted Wound” (Forward) 11-11-2009

“In a society with only partial separation between church and state, one of the first cases heard by the new court concerned the right of the Jewish community to decide who is allowed to attend Jewish day schools, which in Britain are almost all publicly funded. If that right is taken away, blame can be laid squarely at the feet of Britain’s Orthodox establishment.”

“‘Who is a Jew?'” (National Post) 11-16-2009

U.K. case sparks holy debate: “In light of the ruling, JFS has rewritten its admissions policy. Prospective students must now pass a “religious practice test” based on points they accumulate for participating in Jewish activities such as attending synagogue. Other religious schools have expressed dismay that they too may have to adopt similar practice tests.”

“Patrilineal Descent And The Conservative Movement” (Jewish Week-New York)

“In fact, whereas a decade ago the Conservative movement publicly affirmed its policy of not allowing “patrilineal” Jews into its Ramah camps without a conversion, today most Conservative leaders I contacted about this issue seemed eager to downplay the issue’s importance and to emphasize their commitment to reaching out to (and converting), rather than excluding, “patrilineal” Jews. “

“MKs reject bill that would bar rabbis from annulling conversions” (Haaretz)11-20-2009

“The Knesset plenum yesterday rejected a bill that would have prohibited rabbis from annulling conversions to Judaism which were granted in the past and recognized by the state.”

“Who is a Briton?” (5 Towns Jewish Times) 11-19-2009

“To the delight of Jew-haters everywhere, a British court has in effect deemed Judaism a racist religion. As a result, the blogosphere swarmed with invective about how the Jews had been exposed as imposing, in the words of one jolly blogger, an “ethnic purity test.””

“‘Rabbis may be punished over converts'” (Jerusalem Post) 11-19-2009

When this story hit, most of the converts I know whooped a big “Hooray!”

“Mumbai Doctor Smashed Idols and Became a Jew with Holtzbergs” ( 11-19-2009

It’s my big fat Jewish Indian wedding! Watch the video and read about the Mumbai doctor who pulled an Avraham and became a Jew after working with Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, Chabad emmissaries to Mumbai and named his children after them after their death.

“‘Fire rabbis who don’t recognize military conversion'” ( 11-20-2009

“Immigration and Absorption Committee discusses municipal rabbis’ refusal to marry graduates of IDF conversion program, calls for their dismissal and trial. Rabbinate representative: We will ordain more lenient marriage registrars in their stead. Reform movement: We will file civil suit against rabbis”

“Legal battle over convert’s Jewish status” (The Jewish Chronicle of London) 11-19-2009

“The head of a legal team fighting to restore a convert’s status as a halachically recognised Jew has warned Jerusalem’s High Rabbinical Court that there would be a “war of the titans” if it did not revoke a judgment that he had never been Jewish.”

“Wanted: Religious-Zionist Families to Aid Would-be Converts” ( 11-22-2009

“The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption reports success in recruiting religious-Zionist families to “adopt” would-be converts, but still needs another 2,000.

The rabbinical conversion courts require that each would-be convert and his/her family be escorted along the conversion process by a Torah-observant family. However, up until recently, the national-religious public was not aware of the need, and despite that sector’s pioneering volunteer spirit, the matter of helping would-be converts fell by the wayside.”

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