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Conversion and Who is a Jew?

It was announced today that one of the world’s leading Jewish academics, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sinclair will visit Perth. Rabbi Sinclair is attending Limmud Oz in Melbourne, and will detour to Perth, not at least because his son has recently been engaged to an Olah from the Perth Jewish community.

Over Shabbat Chukat, Rabbi Sinclair will be speaking about conversion.  Given his role as a successor to the Cheif Rabbi at Jews College in London, and the recent issues confronting world Jewry over conversion, this will no doubt be a fascinating experience.

On the conversion topic, the London Jewish Chronicle have printed a very straightfoward article about this topic. Its nice to see that a spade can still be called a spade. However I also feel that the article missed an opportunity by not linking the issue of Jewish identity through the birth of a mother to its halachic source. I often find that some orthodox Jews are very particular about this din, yet profoundly ignorant of its halachic source.

There is an excelllent item on this topic by Ohr Sameach.The Torah basis for the halacha is derived from Devarim 7:4, but it is the Mishna in Kiddushin, and the gemara on daf 66 amud beit that defines the Din itself.

As always, if we as Jews are to be machmir about a halachic position, it should be on the basis of knowing and understanding its source, first hand from the text.

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