What Motivates People to Become Jewish?

Although many converts today are motivated by an impending marriage to a Jew, their motivations often change over time as they learn and live as Jews.

Print this page Print this page

A growing number of contemporary rabbis, in reviewing the state of modern society in light of the age-old halakhic [Jewish legal] requirements, are coming to believe that perhaps the marriage motivation should not be classified in the category of ulterior motive. There are a number of halakhically valid reasons that are prompting a reconsideration of opening the doors to Judaism wider despite the obvious risks attendant upon such a policy.

Moving from Accommodation to Conviction

Not the least of these considerations is that people in our open society can grow from accommodation to conviction. Experience today teaches us not to be cavalier with those who adopt a new religion without what we consider to be the right reason. Often, they begin the long road of conversion for reasons of accommodation, yet, in the end, arrive at remarkably deep levels of spiritual conviction.

Conversion generally will result from a complex of multiple motivations: to marry, to raise children in a one-faith family, to avoid conflict with parents. A desire to establish a home in a unified religious commitment for the purpose of bringing up children as Jews obviously savors more of sincerity than of personal gain, and must be for Heaven's sake.

The Jewish people searches for converts of conviction. But it recognizes the great potential in those who are sincere, who are family-oriented, who love God, who work "for the sake of Heaven," and who are therefore candidates for moving from accommodation to conviction.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Maurice Lamm

Maurice Lamm is the author of many books, including The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning. He is the president of the National Institute for Jewish Hospice, and Professor at Yeshiva University's Rabbinical Seminary in New York, where he holds the chair in Professional Rabbinics. For years he served as rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation, Beverly Hills, CA.