Controversy over Conversion to Judaism

Source: The New York Times

On June 13, 1999, a The New York Times published an
article on issues of conversion in the Jewish religion. Gary A. Tobin,
president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research in San
Francisco, advocates “a positive, welcoming approach to non-Jews
becoming Jews.” Approximately 180,000, or 3 percent, of the American
Jewish population are converts, who are mostly married or engaged to
Jews. Tobin believes that reaching out to non-Jews asserts the
American Jewish position in a democratic, religiously pluralistic
society: “We’re strong enough and secure enough that we can think
about growth.” Jack Wertheimer, provost and professor of American
Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York,
objects to an open campaign for converting non-Jews: “There is a deep
concern about this kind of approach among people in all sectors of
American Judaism” because he feels that major efforts to convert are
“an expression of panic, a real lack of faith” in “traditional
methods of transmitting Jewish identity.”