African-American Jews

Here is a fascinating article on how some poor black families inCairo, IL, have converted to Judaism. Strangely missing, though, are interviews from the converts about why they did so. This is an example too of the clash between two views of religion: is it a matter of identity or belief? Most of these new Jews were formerly Baptists, who seem to be bringing that conversion mentality to a religion that is normally understood by its adherents as an ethnic identity. (The reporters don’t delve into that either, with no interviews of the rabbis who brought them into the religion. Nor is there much on HOW one converts to Judaism–a membership class? subscription to a set of beliefs? how about circumcision?–beyond a ritual bath, which probably has historic ties, unremarked on, to Christian baptism.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Sad. The only reasons given for leaving the Baptists are “corruption, dishonesty and hypocrisy.” And while those certainly are reasons for leaving a congregation, or even a denomination, I have a hard time understanding how that could influence one to leave a faith. Unless you didn’t understand the distinction.

    I also wonder what it means that, according to the article, “he began studying the Torah” only after leaving the Baptists. One would imagine that Christians would have been studying the Torah as well.

    But then, anyone who would leave the freedom and sure salvation we have in Jesus for a slavery to an impotent righteousness from ourselves might also not be very familiar with other parts of the Bible as well. Namely, the books of Hebrews and Galatians.

    But then, consider the alternatives they apparently had. A Baptist preacher said of the Jewish converts, “If they can come in and make a difference or give somebody hope, I welcome them.” One would imagine a Baptist preacher would know who our lone true source of hope is. But you wouldn’t know it from a quote like that.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Sad. The only reasons given for leaving the Baptists are “corruption, dishonesty and hypocrisy.” And while those certainly are reasons for leaving a congregation, or even a denomination, I have a hard time understanding how that could influence one to leave a faith. Unless you didn’t understand the distinction.

    I also wonder what it means that, according to the article, “he began studying the Torah” only after leaving the Baptists. One would imagine that Christians would have been studying the Torah as well.

    But then, anyone who would leave the freedom and sure salvation we have in Jesus for a slavery to an impotent righteousness from ourselves might also not be very familiar with other parts of the Bible as well. Namely, the books of Hebrews and Galatians.

    But then, consider the alternatives they apparently had. A Baptist preacher said of the Jewish converts, “If they can come in and make a difference or give somebody hope, I welcome them.” One would imagine a Baptist preacher would know who our lone true source of hope is. But you wouldn’t know it from a quote like that.


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