Page 98 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 51

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
A b r a h a m C a r m e l ’s
S
o
Strange My Path: A Spiritual Pilgrimage
(New
York: Bloch, 1964). Carmel was a Roman Catholic priest named
Kenneth Cox. His story centers on his intellectual conversion and
his spiritual attachment to Orthodox Judaism. His discussion of
why he chose to become Jewish provides a unique, outside view.
Because of his theological perspective, Carmel’s book is especially
valuable for converts interested in scholarly, spiritual works.
W
a r d e r
C
r e s s o n
s
The Key of David
(New York: Arno, 1977). Cresson
(1798-1860) faced an insanity trial after he converted. He was an
interesting person who managed to receive an appointment as the
first American consul to Jerusalem, although the appointment was
soon cancelled. The book, originally published in 1851, is full of
spiritual musings and is stylistically difficult. The newspaper ac­
counts of the trial are, however, fascinating.
L
y d ia
K
u k o f f
s
Choosing Judaism,
as previously discussed.
A
b r a h a m
K
o t s u j i
s
From Tokyo to Jerusalem: The Autobiography of a Jap ­
anese Convert toJudaism
(New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1964).
Kotsuji converted in 1959 when he was 60 years old. This unusual
story is clearly told and is always fascinating, especially a section
in which Kotsuji recounts risking his life smuggling Jews away
from Hitler. The author published many books in Japan about
Judaism, including a Hebrew grammar.
J
u l i u s
L
e s t e r
s
Lovesong: Becoming a Jew
(New York: Henry Holt,
1988). Lester’s moving and beautifully written account of a black
man’s journey toward Judaism is justifiably considered one of the
best of the conversionary autobiographies. Lester’s ability as a writ­
er trained in self-observation enables him to record a spiritual od­
yssey in an authoritative fashion. The book is equally valuable as
an insight into black-Jewish relations.
N
a n c y
M
c
M
u r r a y
s
The Becoming of Ruth: An Autobiography
(New York:
Crown, 1972) is an unusual book written under the pen name
o f Yowa. The short book details in a cartoon form many of the
anxieties involved in conversion. It is an attempt to update the
biblical story of Ruth.
A
im e
P
a l l ie r e
s
The Unknown Sanctuary: A Pilgrimage from Rome to Israel
(New York: Bloch, 1985) doesn’t quite belong in this collection
because the author never actually converted. Still, his spiritual
quest as a non-Jew who attached himself to Judaism is closely re­
lated thematically to conversionary works. This book also provides
an understanding of the intellectual foundations of the fledgling
B’nai Noach movement in the United States whose members attach
themselves to Jewish life without wishing to convert. For further
information about the Noachide laws, three good books are: