Converting to Judaism

    May, 1998          
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The Concept of Converting to Judaism

By Harrold Connor

(with apologies to our Italian friends )

There once was an Italian boy who had a cousin in New York. The boysí fathers were brothers and one emigrated to the USA and one stayed in Milano. Even though they were separated by a vast span of ocean, the boys keep in close touch with each other. As they grew up they each entered into the family business, you guessed it the Mafia. The boys both became popular and successful hit men and had many clients.

Tony, the cousin living in the USA, was dismayed to hear that his Italian cousin, Luigi , who did the same work, was receiving a much lower income. Being a gentle soul and kind hearted fellow, he wrote to Luigi and invited to come and live in the USA where working conditions more amicable and money was much easier to make (lower taxes on hit men). Luigi accepted the offer and came to New York. When he saw the life style and the easy money, he decided to stay. Tony helped him find a good job working as a hit man. Luigi wanted to become an American citizen so he could receive a pension when he became old.

Luigi went down to the government offices and applied for citizenship. Because the family had connections in the right places, and his good work record, he was invited to come down to the naturalization office and be sworn in as a new naturalized citizen of the USA. Of course Luigi was there at the appointed time.

The immigration officer called him up to his desk. "Raise your right hand and take this oath. You must promise to abide by all the laws of the country."

"Well," Luigi stammered, "I canít promise to abide by all of the laws. But I will keep most of them."

"What," the puzzled clerk looked in astonishment at this honest lad, "What do you mean?"

"Well," explain Luigi to the clerk, "You see, I am a professional hit man, I rub people out. Just once in a while, of course, so I canít exactly swear in good conscious that I will keep 100% of the laws. But Iím sure, in all honesty, that Iíll keep at least 98% of the laws."

"Iím sorry, young man," the clerk replied, "to be a US citizen you must keep all of the laws. Ninety eight percent is not enough. Iíll have to refuse your application for citizenship."

Luigi was not rebuffed by the clerk. "Wait just a minute, sir. My cousin, Tony, is also a hit man and he is an American citizen. I am just like him. If he can be an American citizen, then so can I. For what reason are you excluding me?"

The clerk took off his glasses and replied, "Listen, your cousin Tony was born over here and is a US citizen by virtue of birth. We donít want citizens who break the law, but what can we do. He is our problem. We canít throw him out.

"But you are different. You are not a citizen. We have enough problems with our citizens who break the law. We are not going to accept some one who comes to us and tells us up front that he is going to break the laws."

* * * * * * *

Does that story sound stupid? Donít say yes, because many converts to Judaism have the same philosophy. They want to become Jewish, but not to actually do what Jewish people are supposed to do. They are not interested in eating Kosher, nor keeping the Sabbath, nor many of the other harder laws.

Yet they can justify it by saying that this Jew and that Jew doesnít do it either. So why should they! To make things more complicated, some Jews who donít care much about the Jewish law and living a Jewish life, have come up with a little business idea called conversions. A little thought will reveal that their conversions are just in order to justify themselves in their own eyes, that they can do what ever they want and still be a Jew. So if they can do what they want and still be Jewish, why canít a Gentile also do what he wants and be Jewish?


from theMay, 1998 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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