Converting To Orthodox Judaism And Then Giving It All Away

It’s disconcerting when I learn about goyim who converted to Orthodox Judaism, lived it for many years, and then drop it completely when “they just don’t believe in it anymore.” Batei Din (Jewish law courts) caught on to this in the 1970s and toughened up. In Los Angeles, at least 95% of Orthodox converts are still keeping Shabbos publicly five years after their conversion. On the one hand, America is all about this type of religious freedom, on the other hand, my in-group Jewish kishkes churn over this. I fear that they give Jews more reasons to not accept converts.

I feel that Jews have by and large treated me according to my merits.

I talk to a lot of would-be converts to Orthodox Judaism and most of them do not belong in Orthodox Judaism. If you are not strong enough to make it through the process, you’re not likely to stick with it in the long run (though some I feel have been screwed over by perverse rabbis whose power has warped them). Most would-be converts I know are women and they expect this incredible spiritual experience along with the supportive and nurturing help of Orthodox rabbis. Boy, are they deluded. Conversion to Orthodox Judaism is more like marrying an America after 9/11 and trying to secure permanent residency. There’s a demanding process.

Chaim Amalek writes: “I have always felt that there was something fundamentally broken in anyone born into a mainstream Christian home who then sought to become an orthodox Jew.”

People who convert are often seeking to fill a hole in their soul that a religious change rarely accomplishes (though it can distract from the pain for a long time). In my view, 12-step programs are the most effective program for filling a hole in the soul. Changing your religion may just change how your soul hole manifests.

About Luke Ford

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