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January 03, 1992 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-03

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will recognize the sovereign-
ty of God almighty.
It is a basic tenent of our
faith as expressed in
numerous areas of rIbrah that
the many mitzvot that we per-
form will bring about the
realization of this utopian
period. May the righteous
redeemer come speedily in
our time.

Rabbi Elimelech Silberberg

Bais Chabad of West Bloomfield

Evangelism
Not The Answer

I was very disturbed by the
article in your opinion section
on Dec. 20 by Barry Mehler,
"Borrowing Tactics From
Evangelist's Book." The arti-
cle encouraged Jews to go out
and try to convert people to
Judaism if we are to grow.
My question is to grow into
what? We should remember
that one person with a belief
is equal to 99 with only in-
terests. We should not try to
increase our numbers solely
for that sake alone.
Looking at proselytes, if we
take a category encountered
in the United States more fre-
quently than others, a gentile
woman who falls in love with
a Jew and undergoes the
ritual of conversion because
without it he would not
marry her does not through
this formal act itself become
a Jew.
A contrasting example is
that of the Polish count Valen-
tine Potocki, who converted
because he had come to
believe in the tenents of
Judaism, joined the Jewish
community and died a mar-
tyr's death at the stake in
1749. He unquestionably was
a Jew.
Similarly, the Marranos
who fled Portugal and return-
ed to Judaism after their
forebears had been Christians
for four generations thereby
became wholly Jewish, not
because of the act of conver-
sion itself but because of their
wholehearted commitment to
Judaism and the Jewish
community.
If Mr. Mehler wants to do
something to make Judaism
grow, he should concentrate
on "converting" the un-
Jewish offspring of Jews. I'm
not advocating a religious
conversion because whether
one considers oneself Jewish
by virtue of relgion, nationali-
ty, ethnicity, or simply that
one's parents were Jewish
makes little difference.
No, Mr. Mehler, Jewish op-
position to evangelism is not
a matter of bigotry. It's a mat-
ter of survival.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

9

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