Abstracts

CONVERSION

J. David Bleich, "Survey of Recent Halakhic Periodical Literature", Tradition 23/2 (1988), 88-95. ó The author reviews the problem of permitting the use of a mikveh for non-orthodox conversion. He would deny the use of such facilities for non-orthodox conversions. He further asserts that this denial, despite opinion to the contrary, does not involve institutional or denominational rivalries nor do the concerns raised by orthodox authorities have as their intent the attenuation of fraternal bonds which unite all Jews and make all Jews responsible for the spiritual and material welfare of each other. (S.M.P.)

J. Simcha Cohen, "The Conversion of Children Born to Gentile Mothers and Jewish Fathers", Tradition 22/4 (1987), 1-17. ó The author proposes a frame of reference for halakhic dialogue on this vexed subject. The elements of the matter set forth include the question of infant conversion and zekhut, and the question of child converts in non-orthodox homes. He suggests that orthodox Judaism should not dismiss children of gentile mothers as beyond the pale but rather aggressively pursue halakhic means to gain these children as traditionally observant Jews. (S.M.P.)

Dan Cohn-Sherbok, "The Paradox of Reform Conversion", JRJ 27/1 (l980), 83-85. - The author suggests revision of the Reform Jewish conversion ceremony in order to eliminate the anomaly of a declaration of religious belief in situations where the perspective convert does not profess a belief in Deity. (S.M.P.)

Steven E. Foster, "The Community Rabbinic Conversion Board - Denver Model", JRJ 3l/3 (1984), 25-32. - A study of a Jewish inter-denominational conversion board which was an experiment in halakhic conversion procedures bringing together rabbis from all Jewish denominations. The experiment has been discontinued and the reasons for its end are also studied in detail. (S.M.P.)

Walter Jacob, "Privacy of A Convert", Journal of Reform Judaism 33/1 (1986), 87f. ó In a reform responsum the author decides that it would not be offensive for a congregation to maintain a registry of converts in the congregational library, but it should be placed in the library in a manner that would not lend itself to the gratification of idle curiosity. (S.M.P.)

Walter Jacob, "Return to Judaism of a Baptized Jewish girl", Journal of Reform Judaism 33/4 (1986), 69f. ó In a reform responsum the author considers the situation of a young woman, born of a Jewish mother who practices Christianity. The young woman was baptized when she was five. The Jewish father is Jewishly committed and wants the daughter to be part of the congregation. After brief discussion of the return of converts who left Judaism under duress and the return of converts who left voluntarily, the author maintains that the young woman does not really fall into either category. He therefore recommends a ceremony which impresses the seriousness of a decision to be part of the Jewish community. (S.M.P.)

Robert N. Levine and David H. Ellenson, "Jewish Tradition, Contemporary Sensibilities, and Halacha: A Responsum by Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman", JRJ 30/1 (1983), 49-56. - The authors analyze Hoffmann's responsum in respect to the Jewish status of a child born to a gentile mother and a Jewish father, specifically whether a twelve year old boy of such parentage, who had in fact been circumcised by a mohel at the age of eight days required hatafat dam before conversion. Hoffman decided it was unnecessary. (S.M.P.)

Robert Levine and David Ellenson, "Rabbi Z. H. Kalischer and a Halachic Approach to Conversion", JRJ 28/3 (l981), 50-57. - An analysis of a responsum in which a strictly observant rabbi permits conversion to Judaism for the circumcised son of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. (S.M.P.)

S. Zevulun Leiberman, "A Sephardic Ban on Converts", Tradition 23/2 (1988) 22-25. ó The Syrian-Sephardic community in Brooklyn, N.Y., following the earlier example of the Syrian-Sephardic community of Argentina, declared a ban on accepting any converts. This ban was reaffirmed in 1946, 1972, and 1984. The ban is based on the power of a community to institute such proceedings; and it is, to the author's mind, a proof of the power of a community to protect its heritage and tradition. The ban excludes adopted children converted at birth. (S.M.P.)

J. Milgrom, "Religious Conversion and the Revolt Model for the Formation of Israel", JBL 101 (1982), 169-176. - The author challenges the view, implicit in the Mendenhall-Gottwald revolt model for the formation of Israel, that religious conversion is either attested or possible before the Second Temple period. He denies the new consensus that the use of ger in P indicates proselyte and, hence, a full Israelite. He follows Ibn Ezra (on Lev. 18:26) and Weinfeld that the ger and Israelite are not equated because the ger is only obliged to obey the laws that affect the purity of the congregation or the land. The distinction in P does not exist in civil law (jus), which holds they are of equal status, but in religious law (fas). There is a precise legal distinction in P between the ger and the Israelite. The ger may have worshipped Israel's God and was required to offer purification offerings to the sanctuary, but there was no obligation to follow all the religious prescriptions incumbent upon Israelites. He was neither an ezrah nor part of the kahal but a ger. D.'s law of herem and its law on intermarriage (Deut. 7:3; cf. Exod. 34:10; Josh. 23:12) presumes that Canaanites qua Canaanites were present at least in the eighth century. D.'s law of the kahal is a northern Israelite polemic against Judah, particularly against the Davidids. Thus the assumption of the revolt model that Israel was formed by mass conversion is unwarranted. Conversion of individuals is not attested until the post-exilic age, and the phenomenon of mass conversion not until the Hasmoneans and the advent of Christianity. (K.W.W.)

J. Nolland, "Uncircumcised Proselytes?", JSJ 12 (1981), 173-194. - N. examines the claim of McEleney that there was a significant strand of Jewish thought in the first century, prior to Pharisaic dominance, especially in the Hellenistic world, which allowed for the possibility of a convert to Judaism being accepted without the need for circumcision. He finds no evidence within first century Jewish writings (particularly, Philo: Epictetus II, ix, 20f; Pes. 92a) to support such a claim. (K.W.W.)

J. Schatzmiller, "Converts and Judaizers in the Early Fourteenth Century", HTR 74 (1971), 63-77. - Inquisitors claimed that Jews who temporarily converted to Christianity were readmitted to Judaism by an immersion rite (tebila) designed to undo their baptism. But Rabbi Ibn Idreth denied this was necessary. A document from Toulon about 1320 confirms the existence of this rite. It contains the confessions of the Jew Salves Barbe before the inquisitor Bertrand de Cigoterio and describes how he was first immersed in the sea and later in hot water. Ibn Idreth's remarks should therefore be viewed not as denying the existence of the practice, but its necessity. To affirm the necessity of a Jewish immersion would be to admit the efficacy of baptism. (G.J.W.)

A. Shaaki, "Fraud as a Ground for Nullification of Halachic Conversion", Bar Ilan Law Studies 3 (1984), 28-91.

Moshe Yeres, "Burial of Non-Halakhic Converts", Tradition 23/3 (1988), 60-74. ó The author reviews various opinions and Pesakim on the subject and concludes that the question involves public policy that can not be settled by the mere quotation of a prior Pesak. He states that nothing less than full Halakhic conversion can achieve Jewish status for a convert, yet true identification with the Jewish community has been recognized as having some halakhic weight in some areas. (S.M.P.)

 

 

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