I’ve seen other Jews-by-choice make lists of the books they’ve read or are reading as part of their conversion process, and it occurs to me that it’d be a good idea if I had a booklist ready when I met with the rabbi next week – especially since there’s a very good chance I’ll actually meet him tonight at Shavuot services. So, here’s what I’ve read so far.
- Jewish Literacy, by Joseph Telushkin
- What is a Jew?, by Morris Kertzer and Lawrence Hoffman
- Becoming Jewish (A Handbook for Conversion), by Ronald H. Isaacs
- Why Be Jewish?, by David J. Wolpe
- The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin
- To Life! by Harold S. Kushner
- Living a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant
- The Everything Judaism Book, by Richard Bank (this is not an especially good reference, in my opinion, for converts)
- Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends, by Anita Diamant (this is an excellent book for converts!)
- Read Hebrew in Just 90 Minutes, by Chaim Conway (still working my way through this one)
Other books that are not about Judaism and conversion specifically, but which have informed my understanding of Jewish life and practices because they have characters or important people who are either ethnically or religiously Jewish (or both), include:
- The Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
- In The Presence of Mine Enemies, by Harry Turtledove
- I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, by Joanne Greenberg
- Just about any kids’ book by Judy Blume
- Any book that has a Jewish character in it
Other things that have informed my understanding of Judaism and conversion include several really excellent blogs on the topic, including Coffee Shop Rabbi and Chicago Carless.
There are other sources, mainly people, that have informed this journey as well.
I also know that if I’m going to meet with the rabbi, I should have some questions ready for him. So here’s a few that I’ve got lined up so far:
- What do you feel are the main requirements for a person to be a sincere convert to Judaism?
- What is your philosophy about converts and conversion?
- What is your understanding of tikkun olam?
I will be in an interfaith, gay relationship. Does this pose problems for you, either personally or professionally, with taking me on as a conversion candidate?
Because, you know, I’m not asking any really risky questions or anything, right?