Becoming Jewish Three Times

I used to go to Ohr HaTorah with this guy.

We reconnected at the first LimmudLA in February 2008.

He lives in Jerusalem and looks chareidi. He’s the most genial guy, funny, and easy to talk to.

Yes, most Orthodox Jews do seem intimidating to those who are less religious. They make you feel less than, a familiar feeling for me.

The New York Times reports:

A comedian now based in Jerusalem, Mr. Campbell began life as Christopher Campbell, born in suburban Philadelphia and raised Roman Catholic. His story, of a misspent, alcoholic youth and eventual conversion to Judaism not once but three times, is the stuff of shtick. And in Mr. Campbell’s genial and polished recounting it’s a tale well told.

(For the record, he notes that while he had been circumcised at birth, conversions still required a ritual called hatafat dam brit, a symbolic taking of a drop of blood — “and not from your thumb.” And though he complied, he believes that “three circumcisions is not a religious covenant, it’s a fetish.”)

What elevates it beyond comedy routine is that, punch lines aside, this is Mr. Campbell’s life, and that his quest for a “relationship with God,” as he puts it, continues even after the house lights rise. That he pursued the relationship so relentlessly, first converting to Reform Judaism, then to Conservatism, then to the Orthodox movement — in Israel, no less — suggests a personal search of great commitment.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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