I Want to Hold Your Challah

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Paul McCartney wants to join the Tribe. This at least according to sources at the National Enquirer. McCartney, who recently married Jewish American Nancy Shevell, told his wife that he wants to convert. McCartney’s late wife Linda Eastman was also a Jewish American. It’s good to see the world’s richest and most beloved musician in love with a Jewish American Woman.

Details of his Yom Kippur service attendance with his new wife also have him quoted as saying that he wants to get married in a Jewish religious ceremony too. You see, Shevell and McCartney have not been near the chuppah yet. They were married in a civil ceremony. Historians of famous weddings have pointed out that this is just like his previous marriage to Linda where he was married at the Marylebone Registry Office.

Welcome to the Tribe Sir Paul, or should we start saying Sir Saul?

33 Comments

  1. Philip Blair

    11/2/2011 at 12:23 am

    So is conversion as simple as making a statement or confession of faith, the preserve of the rich and famous. Just how do you convert to the ‘Tribe’ as it is put in this article?

  2. Rabbi Yonah

    11/2/2011 at 12:42 am

    Depends. Many conversions take a year of study. Some take less.

  3. themiddle

    11/2/2011 at 12:43 am

    Philip, converting is a process…

    It also depends on which movement converts you and which rabbi in that movement converts you. Certainly a statement of faith is not enough for most rabbis of any movement.

    R. Yonah, I suspect David Bowie is wealthier than Paul McCartney, not that a couple of hundred million dollars make a difference.

  4. Philip Blair

    11/2/2011 at 1:02 am

    Thanks for the responses guys. So is it the case that I approach a rabbi and tell him that I want to convert to Judaism and then see what the rabbi would want me to do? What is the reaction of congregations to converts, is there a general acceptance or general resistance to converts? By the way, I am in Northern Ireland so choice of rabbis will be limited. Thanks again for your help.

  5. themiddle

    11/2/2011 at 3:24 am

    Depends on the rabbi. Jews do not proselytize and according to tradition he is likely to send you away to reconsider and only if you show a real desire to convert and some understanding of the motives behind your desire to convert will he begin the process. There are rabbis who are more strict about this just as there are those who are far more open to prospective converts. Usually, there is more openness to the idea of having someone convert if they have married or are marrying somebody Jewish but even that’s not a given.

    As for congregants, there is no answer to your question. In my experience some of the most devoted and active members of congregations are converts. They tend to be interested in Judaism as a religion on a spiritual basis that somebody born to Judaism may not be. Since congregations tend to run with volunteers and many activities revolve around volunteers, it is no surprise that converts frequently become important members of the congregation. I haven’t seen bias in congregations that I’ve attended.

    On the other hand, where there is some serious conflict regarding converts is between movements. The Orthodox tend to reject non-Orthodox (Conservative and Reform) conversions because they consider the rabbis of those movements to be undereducated, not observant enough and therefore unqualified to supervise the conversion process. As a consequence, if you convert with a non-Orthodox rabbi and wish to, for example, marry an Orthodox woman, you will find yourself having to convert again.

    Oh, did I mention circumcision? Are you circumcised, Philip?

  6. ck

    11/2/2011 at 4:36 am

    Conservative and Reform conversions aren’t rejected by the Orthodox because they consider Conservative and Reform Rabbis “undereducated, not observant enough and therefore unqualified to supervise the conversion process” – wherever did you get that idea? I for one know many Reform and Conservative Rabbis who are quite well educated and some who are very observant. Many are quite familiar with the Orthodox conversion process and could easily do a conversion using those standards. The issue is that Reform Judaism questions the divine origins of the Torah and the authority of Rabbinic interpretation thus allowing its adherents to ignore Torah precepts like the laws of kashrut or the laws of the sabbath. Conservative Judaism pretty much accepts the divinity of the Torah but allows for interpretations of Jewish law that fundamentally contradict traditional Rabbinic rulings. Thus the Orthodox don’t accept Reform or Conservative conversions because Reform and Conservative Judaism do not meet with Orthodox standards of belief and practice. To be sure, some Orthodox Rabbis certainly do believe that Reform and Conservative Rabbis are indeed undereducated etc. but the issue is more with the underlying standards of the specific movements. Furthermore, some fundamentalist Orthodox Rabbis will not accept the authority of other Orthodox Rabbis that they perceive as being too liberal. So your task Philip, is going to be a challenging one.

    Should you choose the path of least resistance and decide to get an Orthodox conversion that is accepted by everyone, you are advised to begin lving a more Jewish life. That would mean living within a Jewish community so that you may better familiarize yourself with the lifestyle and have a support network, synagogues and accessibility to kosher food. Being the only Jew in town makes it difficult to keep kosher and celebrate the Sabbath and holidays. You will find that people will be overwhelmingly supportive and even flattered that you would want to take upon yourself the requirements of being Jewish. Of course there are always some ignorant people, but Jewish law demands that you treat the convert with the same respect and deference that you would treat a native born Jew. So yeah, I would suggest making plans to move to Dublin where the bulk of the Irish Jewish community resides. There are synagogues, both Orthodox and Liberal as well as kosher food, a museum, Judaica stores, events, classes etc. For more information, feel free to visit jewishireland.... and good luck whatever you decide to do.

    Also, I was going to write about Sir Paul McCartney’s impending conversion and I was gonna title it “She Loves Jew, Yeah, Yeah Yeah!” Oh well. You snooze, you lose.

  7. DK

    11/2/2011 at 6:59 am

    “Conservative Judaism pretty much accepts the divinity of the Torah but allows for interpretations of Jewish law that fundamentally contradict traditional Rabbinic rulings. ”

    Like belief in an old earth. Don’t forget, that’s not allowed anymore.

    • Rabbi Yonah

      11/2/2011 at 11:22 am

      DK – belief in the world being only 5772 is a new idea. Most orthodox scholars have always said that the age of the universe is beyond comprehension. The seven Days of Creation NEVER referred to days in our terms. I believe that those that run around saying the world was created in 7 days, and that the world is 6k years old are so fundamentally wrong and out of touch with Jewish scholarship, that it is embarrassing. I can write volumes about it – but luckily someone already has: The Science of Torah: The Reflection of Torah in the Laws of Science, The Creation of the Universe and the Development of Life (Targum Press 2001) ISBN 1-56871-288-X. Later republished in a revised and expanded edition as The Challenge of Creation: Judaism’s Encounter with Science, Cosmology and Evolution (Zoo Torah/Yashar Books 2006) ISBN 1-933143-15-0

  8. Tiff

    11/2/2011 at 10:28 am

    Brother – I think it’s funny that you describe orthodox conversion as “the path of least resistance”.

    DK- So I have to believe that the Earth is 5772 years old exactly? I guess that’s it for me and orthodoxy.

    • rabbi yonah

      11/2/2011 at 11:23 am

      See me reply to DK above for a discussion on Age of Earth etc.

  9. ck

    11/2/2011 at 11:16 am

    Ok little sister – should I have used the term “lowest common denominator?” Th point I was making is that an Orthodox conversion is generally universally accepted. That having been said, you’ll get less flack and will be sped through even the most demanding conversion process if you visibly adopt the the lifestyle. That means spending shabbat with members of the community, attending services regularly and just looking the part. If a woman shows up to meet her Orthodox Rabbi in pants or in a short skirt, he’s not going to be so eager to ease the process. Show up in long skirts and long sleeves and he’ll be already thinking of how to set you up with a shidduch. Same goes with guys; cover your head, dress modestly, participate visibly in services etc. and they’ll be more readily convinced of your seriousness. I’ve seen people complete the process with hard core Orthodox Rabbis in 6-7 months from start to finish.

    As for you DK, only the neolithic branch of Orthodox Judaism does’t believe in dinosaurs or evolution. Tiffy? You may safely remain within the fold and remain true to the principles and values represented by your science PhD. Sorry, I mean Dr. Tiffy! That still cracks me up… and yes, I am bragging. Ladies? Please note that very smart genes run in our family. I’m just sayin’ is all…

    • froylein

      11/2/2011 at 12:16 pm

      Is that the female line?

      Congratulations, Tiffy!

  10. DK

    11/2/2011 at 11:37 am

    While Rabbi Yonah is correct that a restriction on the “belief in the world being only 5772 is a new idea,” never the less, no Orthodox group says it is forbidden to believe such nonsense. Rather, in MO circles, it is permitted to believe in the imprint of God over the nonsensical claims of ancient men, but the Avodah Zora of a new earth because the Gedoylim said so is considered absolutely permitted even in Modern Orthodox circles. It is halachacism gone mad.

    #idolworship

  11. themiddle

    11/2/2011 at 12:50 pm

    You see Philip, it’s not really worth it. Next thing you know, you’ll be debating whether your stream is better than that stream and more important, which stream has the hotter babes.

    ck, I don’t have the patience to debate Conservative Judaism with you. As I recall, somewhere on this site we have a 700 comment discussion about it. Ah yes, back when we were young.

    • ck

      11/2/2011 at 1:23 pm

      What’s to debate? Did I say anything offensive? Mistaken? I tried to be as objective as possible for the sake of Philip. And there’s no issue regarding “hot babes.” All Jewish women are precious and worthy of love and care and appreciation because really? We don’t deserve them and it’s a miracle that they would have anything to do with us…

  12. sheela

    11/2/2011 at 12:53 pm

    “I Wanna Hold Your Challah”
    “She Loves Jew, Yeah, Yeah Yeah!”
    Oy.
    You should’ve opted for, “Hey Jew”
    ;)

    • Rabbi Yonah

      11/2/2011 at 6:17 pm

      That was considered but got outvoted by our committee.

      • sheela

        11/3/2011 at 11:24 am

        Darn. How about “I Am The Wailing Walrus”?

        • ck

          11/3/2011 at 11:30 am

          Genius sheela. I think we have a winner, no?

          • sheela

            11/3/2011 at 11:37 am

            lol I was working on that all morning!

  13. Tiff

    11/2/2011 at 3:42 pm

    Froylein – Thanks! Now I have more time to work on my grammar, knitting, baking…gonna try Kimchi tonight.

    CK – I don’t have a “smart” gene. I can barely do long division. So, sorry, you can’t use me to interest the “ladies”. Also, who cares if everyone accepts a conversion? Shouldn’t conversion be an honest act, not motivated by universality?

    Rabbi Y – Phew. Can I still believe in dinosaurs and evolution?

    • Rabbi Yonah

      11/2/2011 at 6:18 pm

      Yes

    • ck

      11/3/2011 at 11:38 am

      Well, you definitely have an overactive MODESTY gene. Long division has nothing to do with intelligence. I know you’re smart so shut up. But your self effacingness is something the ladies will also love. So the plan’s BACK ON Tiffy!

      As for conversions, I’m not going to shun anyone who undergoes a sincere conversion. The gold-standard is still “your people are my people, your God is my God.” But Tiffy, if I believe in the Torah and someone undergoes a conversion whereby their Rabbi tells them its ok to eat pork, or fish sticks with shrimp in them, or to drive on Shabbat then you can see where problems might arise, right? Can you at least grant me that Tiffy?

  14. Philip Blair

    11/3/2011 at 10:29 pm

    WOW! When I submitted this question I have to admit there was a very small degree of ‘tongue in cheek’ with regard to Sir Paul. However I took it as an opportunity to ask the question that has been a burning one for quite some time now. I also thought that it might stir a bit of controversy, which was not my intention.

    I am so glad now that I did ask as it has given me great insight into Jewish Conversion and an even greater insight into Jewish Fellowship.

    If I can just share a few more points about myself, where I have come from and how I have arrived at this juncture in my life and to ask for some more feedback on my comments, where you might think it is appropriate, also please be as honest as possible, I will not be offended by any comments from you, so please feel free share what is in your heart and on your mind.

    I am 46, married with 3 grown up children and as I have mentioned earlier I live in Northern Ireland a few miles north of Belfast on the shores of Belfast Lough, unfortunately CK a move to Dublin would not be a possibility, due to family and work commitments for both my wife and me as well as the current state of the Irish economy and job market. We have both worked very hard to achieve success in our chosen careers and whilst our skills sets and experience would be easily transferable to the Irish job market, that job market is very very diminished at present and is, understandably a market which is currently very insular at this moment in time.

    I have from a very early age always had a deep and profound love for the Jewish people and the Israeli nation and have also always felt a very strong sense of hurt when Israelis have been attacked and harmed. My earliest memory of Israel and Jewish suffering is the kidnapping of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics. I was not and still don’t really like sports, but I remember watching the coverage on the news and asking my dad what the reason for this was and he said that there are people in the world who hate Jewish people and that sometimes they hated them so much that they were willing to kill them, just because they the were Jewish. He went on to say that all throughout history the Jewish people had been persecuted because they were God’s chosen people. This was a lot to take in for a seven year old, but it was from this barbaric attack that I look back on as the start of my love for the Jewish People and the Israeli nation.

    I was brought up in large working class housing estate, just a few miles closer to Belfast than where I now live with my wife and my three children, the first, 21, who has just graduated this year from the Irish Baptist Bible College with a BA Theology. The second, 20, is currently on his placement year as part of his university course. He is studying Computer Science at Queens University Belfast (QUB) and last but not least my daughter who is 16 and is currently studying for her GCSE’s and who hopes to go to QUB to study Sociology in the autumn of 2013. My parents where not particularly religious and my brother, sister and me were never forced to attend church, however my parents would have instilled in us a sound knowledge of God, Jesus and the bible. When I was 19 I experienced a spiritual revelation and became a born again Christian. I became very involved in the work of my church, eventually I became the leader of our youth club which was very rewarding. When I got married and moved to our present town we joined the local pentecostal church and again I became very involved in the life and work of the church, I was a church deacon and was also the church administrator. My wife and the children also attended the church but as the children were young my wife was not as involved as I was but was my rock and strength and was and is a fantastic mother and wife.

    I eventually experienced a chronic crisis of faith and haven’t been to or attended church for more than 10 years. My two sons still attend and are both very active in the churches to which they belong. My wife, daughter and I unfortunately do not attend church at all. I suppose if I am being entirely honest I didn’t so much experience a crisis of faith as a loss of faith in the church, which I couldn’t come to terms with. More recently I have what could more correctly be described a crisis of faith. Having been so involved in church for so many years and it being such a big part in life and my family life, I still crave a spiritual aspect and input to my life. Looking at the Christian faith and the church I have become more disenchanted with its teachings and beliefs.

    I have a huge void in my life that I have been unable to find anything to fill that void. I have recently been getting involved in supporting Northern Ireland Friends of Israel (NIFI) and was privileged to attend a NIFI event at The Belfast Synagogue. I have also been supporting/opposing and publicising the UK media bias (especially from the BBC), the systematic anti-semitism inherent in the UK and promoting the positive aspects of Israel and the Jewish people. I also was very critical of the Gaza Flotillas and was very vocal in my condemnation of those involved and conversely I was very vocal in my support for Israel and the IDF action.

    At the same time I have been looking at the Jewish faith, which has led me to this point and Sir Paul’s story was a timely and opportune article which opened the door for me to make the post that started this entire conversation.

    Oh and by the way, the answer to ‘themiddles’ final question is yes, I was done when I was about 22.

    I really am genuinely seeking to have meaning in my life and to have a spiritual input and purpose. I honestly believe that the Jewish faith is the filling for the gaping void. I understand that it is a simple expression of faith and that conversion is something that will mean a lot of study and having to I suppose the best way to say is, that I will have to prove myself and prove my sincerity and desire and determination to convert.

    Finally (at last I can hear you all crying out), my sincere and heart felt thanks for all your comments so far and for any that may follow, be they good or bad, positive or negative. I may never make it to the point of conversion (but I hope with all my heart that I do), but what will never change or cease to be and that is my love and support in whatever way that I can for Israel and the Jewish people in their fight for the right to exist, to have their own land and their right to defend that land and its people from every and all attack from whatever quarter and I will continue to lobby my MP and MEP’s, all the Northern Ireland MP’s, MLA’s who are elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly and our local councils, to keep support for Israel to forefront and to ensure that they oppose any attempts to support the PA, to stand against any attempts by the enemies of Israel to legitimise the murderous and cowardly attacks on Israel by the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran and to keep the pressure on local and national and international politicians and leaders to oppose any attempts to allow PA to become full members of the UN, whilst they continue to murder Israelis, to espouse the annihilation of the Jewish race and to oppose anti semitism and promote Israel and the Jewish faith.

    I am finished now, I promise. Shalom

    • ck

      11/4/2011 at 9:41 am

      Thanks for sharing Philip. First, you don’t have to move to Dublin. There’s a very vibrant Jewish community in Belfast as well. A quick search in Google reveals a wealth of information about Jewish life there. I can understand your religious crisis perfectly. Organized religion is very whacky sometimes. You have on one side, these very lofty and holy ideals and values, and then on the other side you have the very imperfect people who practice the religion in a manner that will always tend to be, by definition, imperfect. In Judaism, community is vital, even essential. The Jewish religion does not merely demand a one on one relationship with God. Just as important is the relationship with your fellow man, both Jew and gentile. Of course a conversion is going to require some serious study – you may even have to learn how read and pray in Hebrew! I don’t know if your wife shares your passion, but if she doesn’t, that might also be an issue. Ultimately, whatever you decide to do, we are thankful for your activities on our behalf. and flattered that you would want to take upon yourself the burden of choseness. By all means feel free to keep us updated on your progress and feel free to ask whatever questions you like!

      • themiddle

        11/4/2011 at 12:07 pm

        Philip, don’t let any Jew tell you differently: the word is spelled “wacky.”

  15. themiddle

    11/4/2011 at 12:04 am

    Philip, thank you for sharing. Please excuse my interference but I removed the names of your wife and children as well as your hometown because while you may feel comfortable expressing your views under your own name, these posts are permanent and your family members, who deserve privacy since they are not the ones who chose to post here, may not wish to be identified with personal information in this way.

    As for your story, it is very interesting and I hope you find whatever spiritual sustenance you seek.

  16. josh

    11/5/2011 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Philip, have you ever read about the Seven Laws of Noah and being a Noahide? It might be a good start, and many will say a blessed idea.

    • Philip Blair

      11/20/2011 at 10:15 pm

      Have found the Noahide www and am reading through the verious articles, thanks. Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

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  18. shawn

    11/10/2011 at 5:46 pm

    God bless. Congratualtions Paul.

  19. Nickidewbear

    11/20/2011 at 8:36 pm

    At least Sir Paul is getting into a faith better for him than the Eastern (e.g., Hindu, Buddhist) faiths.

    • Philip Blair

      11/20/2011 at 10:18 pm

      Absolutely, I agree with you 100%. I only wish him well.

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