Page 92 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
pass on their spiritual journey. The book is unique in including
chapters on homosexual and black converts. The anecdotes are
revealing. There is the story, for instance, of a 21-year-old court
stenographer from Tennessee who is studying to become Jewish
so that she can marry the first Jewish person she ever met.
There is also the story of the woman who tells her parents that
she wishes to convert only to discover that they are anti-Semites.
The book also, very quietly, challenges the born-Jewish com­
munity to be active in its welcoming attitude toward converts.
Indeed, such books as Romanoff s turn conversion almost into
a Rorschach test of Jewish morality; the way born Jews accept
converts as legitimately Jewish tells much about their Jewishness.
Another extremely valuable book is Lydia Kukoff s
Choosing
Judaism
(New York: Hippocrene, 1981), which includes substan­
tive information about Judaism, such as Jewish holidays and
the Jewish life cycle. In this way, the book serves as a useful
introduction to Judaism for those considering or studying for
conversion. It is particularly valuable for the advice it gives to
converts about what it means to feel Jewish. Until recently the
director of the UAHC-CCAR Commission on Reform Jewish
Outreach, Lydia Kukoff is in a unique position to describe that
movement’s efforts to welcome new Jews. While this book is
by a Reform Jew, all converts will find material of interest in
this book.
The UAHC-CCAR Commission has published many useful
books, and program guides. Particularly valuable are
Reform
Jewish Outreach: The Idea Book
(1988), with an important chapter
on integrating converts into the Jewish community, and
Outreach
and the Changing Reform Jewish Community; Creating an Agenda
fo r Our Future
(1989), with its discussion of the impact of con­
verts on the development of Jewish identity. The UAHC also
has published
Why Choose Judaism: New Dimensions ofJewish Out­
reach
by David Belin (1985). This brief pamphlet explains the
history of Reform Jewish outreach and provides a cogent ra­
tionale for it.
The other movements also have literature available. The Unit­
ed Synagogue of Conservative Judaism published Morton K.
Siegel’s ground-breaking pamphlet
Convert: Genuine Jew (?)
in
1981. The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly pub­
lished a useful book by Rabbi Simcha Kling. His
Embracing J u ­
daism
(1987) focuses more on Jewish history, Israel, and Jewish