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Mag Tells Conversion Stories

Some inspired by ‘Fiddler,’ knishes, TV ads

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In its forthcoming issue, Moment magazine offers an instructive history of conversion to Judaism followed by first person accounts of what made some folks do it. The narratives are fairly straightforward, save the occasional observation from the province of the improbable. Former Mormon Karen Nielson-Anson speculates that playing Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof “probably lit the fire,” even though Fruma Sarah is the scary dead wife of Lazar Wolf and her ghost visits Tevye in a nightmare (well, that’s the story Tevye tells his own wife, at least). Tinamarie Bernard, the great-granddaughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, asserts her conversion had nothing to do with inherited guilt but with having “a Jewish neshemah [soul] all along that just needed a chance to take off.” And Hank Eng observes “I love knishes,” a declaration that is ludicrously out of place amidst legit reasons to totally change your religious orientation (we like wafers, especially the Necco kind, but aren’t thinking of taking communion any time).

Then there’s Y-Love, the Orthodox African-American rapper, who recalls seeing “a TV commercial that said ‘Happy Passover from your friends at Channel 2’” when he was a wee boy of 7. It blew his mind so utterly he subsequently proclaimed, “Mommy, I want to be Jewish.” Is that all it takes? Golly—imagine the mess that could’ve been avoided had Ogilvy & Mather been around during the Crusades.

The New Jewish Convert [Moment]

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Tinamarie Bernard says:

Dear Sara,
I certainly understand why you might think that parts of these conversion stories border on improbable. Most certainly, the desire to convert to Judaism took me by surprise. I learned much about my great-grandfather’s role in Nazi Germany after I was well-along in the process, and what I discovered was emotionally quite challenging for me at the time. I’m sorry if that didn’t come out in the article in Moment Magazine.
Perhaps the most precious aspect of coming to terms with my family history was the overwhelming response I received from my new Jewish community: acceptance.
Finally, it needs to be acknowledged that the Moment article was necessarily limited in space, and some of the details that may make it easier to understand why I feel I was Jewish all along – an experience not uncommon to many converts – just didn’t come through.
I am the great-granddaughter of a high-ranking Nazi and a Jew. Like it or not, I accept these opposites as part of my identity, my story, my journey.


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Mag Tells Conversion Stories

Some inspired by ‘Fiddler,’ knishes, TV ads

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