I suppose I must reveal up front that I’m obviously not Jewish. But being a Christian with “one foot” in the Hebraic Roots door tends to make me mistaken for one on a regular basis.
Thus it was with great interest that this book came across my desk just the other day. I must say it was a pleasure to read primarily for the way it walks the reader though the conversion process into Reformed Judaism. Reformed Judaism would be a more liberal faction of the larger Jewish pie compared to the black hat and beard wearing Orthodox.
The book for lack of a better description, is a Jewish version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”. When the author Benjamin Errett proposes to his longtime girlfriend, Sarah, he decides to go the distance by converting to Judaism. It is a humorous walk through the process and pitfalls of his decision.
Jew and Improved says that it is a book about a spiritual journey for people who don’t read books about spiritual journeys. Yet in a true sense, it is not that at all. The author maintains an agnostic view throughout the book, and has very little care for the nature of God at all. What he is adopting is not a faith, but rather Jewish culture. In specific, Reformed Judaic culture. He takes peace in the idea that many in Reformed Judaism have an atheist view. Thus, God is never mentioned in this book with any level of interest. Certainly makes the current refusal to recognise Messianic Jews as part of Judaism highly hypocritical. But in fairness, the author never goes there.
As I read further into the book, I became somewhat disappointed in the motives of the author. Although he repeats the fact that he was not converting for his soon-to-be wife, it is clearly obvious that he did. Had she been Muslim, in all probability he would not be on the same path. Seeking truth is never the motivation. Seeking acceptance into a culture is. That makes the authors journey no different than Fred Flintstone joining the Water-Buffalo Lodge.
Where the book shines is in showing the steps one must take to become Jewish. And wow, what a road it is! Hebrew classes, interviews, a comical chapter on circumcision, immersion… One can only imagine the journey of a Conservative convert. But I guess that’s one way to keep the tire-kickers out! I laughed when he had to pay $100 to the Rabbi for the Mikveh ( immersion ceremony ). I could only imagine the backlash of contemporary Christian churches having a baptismal fee!
I heartily recommend this book, especially for those who might have the mistaken notion that being Jewish equals a supernatural and superior knowledge of the ways of God. Trust me, after this you’ll be completely convinced otherwise as it clearly demonstrates how ceremony and tradition create a hedge so huge around the actual Torah that I can’t imagine how most can even see the forest for the trees! 3.8 Feathers out of 5.
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