Conversion and the Rekindling of the Jewish Soul

Janet Liebman Jacobs

in Hidden Heritage

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780520233461
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520936614 | DOI:
Conversion and the Rekindling of the Jewish Soul

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines conversion to Judaism among a larger population of crypto-Jewish descendants who have reconstructed their religious worldview through the adoption of an exclusively Jewish spiritual perspective. A study of descendents of crypto-Jews showed that in a little more than half of them, the discovery and exploration of Jewish ancestry resulted in conversion and the adoption of a Jewish religious worldview. These descendants identify both spiritually and culturally with modern Judaism and with the religious heritage of their Sephardim ancestors. For some descendants, converting to Judaism marks the end of a long search for a meaningful spiritual tradition, while for others, Judaism is appealing because it resonates with the descendant's prior religious orientation. Descendants who convert to Judaism come from widely different backgrounds and spiritual paths; therefore their narratives reveal the intersecting and dynamic relationship among law, history, and theology in the modern construction of Jewish religious identity and multifaceted nature of Jewish conversion in contemporary society. The chapter also discusses the legal and political issues related to Jewish conversions.

Keywords: Judaism; religious conversion; crypto-Jewish descendents; theology; Sephardim; religious identity

Chapter.  10733 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.