Ask the rabbi

  • Family and Society
  • Attitude Towards Other Nations

renouncing or getting out of one's Judaism


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Av 3, 5773
Your attempt to persuade the questioner of the "error of his ways" didn't answer the question. He seems to have made up his mind and is asking about procedural formalities. I also would like to know about those, and in particular the ramifications of such a procedure to a convert who has been living in Israel for 30 years and got married in Jerusalem after the conversion but now wants to disconnect from the religion in disgust over Jewish nationalistic racism which he sees every day in Israel now.
Shalom, I’m sorry you or the convert mentioned, can’t get the answer that you want, but for your good fortune, there is simply no way out of Judaism. Eventually, you or your children will realize, either in this world or the next, what a good destiny it is to be a member of the eternal Nation of the Bible. Even a convert can’t disconnect from Judaism because Judaism isn’t just a “religion”, as you think, where one who doesn’t believe or “wants out”, is simply “out”. It’s an essential nationality as well, and as I mentioned in the previous response, our loving Father did us a favor making it that way, so the gift waits, until one learns enough to appreciate it. It’s not uncommon for people to dislike themselves, especially self- deprecating Jews (Jews tend to be disproportionately neurotic and blame themselves for everything- many comedians have even capitalized from this classic Jewish stereotype, see Woody Allen, Seinfeld’s cast, Rhoda Morgenstern, Rodney Dangerfield, et al…). But what I do suggest, for your intellectual honesty, and in order to feel better about yourselves, is to check out that “Jewish nationalistic racism” which disgusts you, and you’ll probably realize that you have a very inaccurate generalization and misunderstanding. I’ve been living in Israel for over 30 years as well, after living in 4 different states abroad, and personally can’t think of a more caring, helpful and idealistic people. This is born out statistically as well, that Jews have a disproportionately high rate of volunteering, which rises even higher among the more Jewishly educated. Even though Jews comprise only 2% of the U.S. population, 38% of the top philanthropists are Jewish. I know our Irish cleaning-lady was delighted when her daughter was engaged to a “nice Jewish boy”, because “they make good husbands”. I would imagine that she’s more objective than you are, in analyzing your fellow Jews. When John Adams, the second president and one of the founding fathers of the United States wrote in a private (!) letter to F.A. Van der Kemp, that the Jews “have influenced the affairs of mankind more, and more happily, than any other nation, ancient or modern”, I don’t think he had any ulterior motives. True, you will find Jews who blame the Jews, not the Germans, for the Holocaust, and like Goldstone and his U.N. cronies, blame Islamic terror on Israel, rather than on Moslems, but I don’t think we are any worse than any other nation. To the contrary, these self- deprecating Jews, although not objective, keep us on our toes, preventing us from letting our Biblical “Light onto the Nations” role, get to our heads! In the yishuv where I live, we have a 3,000 member society with free no-interest loans for any needy person, tool-sharing, serve meals to the family after every birth or family death, give our house to others when traveling, lend out maternity clothes, gasoline, and even pacifiers at all hours of the night (in case one’s baby loses his!), all based upon our Jewish practices and traditions ("g'mach"- gmilut chasadim). It may be that you or your friends are living among non-observant or less-practicing Jewish people, but I can warmly suggest to try and get involved in a religious community, and you’ll see that goodness is clearly enhanced by Judaism, and not despite it. In short, if Judaism is your “fate”, you may as well see the positive aspects many objective people have found with us, rather than “suffering your fate”, or artificially trying another nation who will unpleasantly surprise you, as all of the nations have done in our 1,900 year journey of dispersion in exile. Thank God we finally have a Jewish State and you're invited to help us make it as Jewish=friendly/altruistic as possible. Rabbi Ari Shvat
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