Skip to main content

Opening the Gates: How Proactive Conversion Can Revitalize the Jewish Community



Opening the Gates: How Proactive Conversion Can Revitalize the Jewish Community

Gary A. Tobin

ISBN: 978-0-787-90881-2 April 1999 Jossey-Bass 240 Pages

Download Product Flyer

Download Product Flyer

Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description. Download Product Flyer is to download PDF in new tab. This is a dummy description.


In Opening the Gates, Gary Tobin challenges his fellow AmericanJews to avoid the process of entropy that could take a devastatingtoll in the Jewish community. "This should be our primary task,"Tobin passionately argues. Tobin confronts his community with theeye-opening reality that "in order to rebuild and revitalizeJudaism in this country we must rethink our religion as somethingboth born Jews and converts must actively choose and stop blamingintermarriage for Judaism's decline." He implores the Jewishcommunity to shift its focus from preventing intermarriage toembracing an open, positive, accessible, and joyful process ofencouraging non-Jews to become Jews. As Tobin bluntly puts it, "Wemust abandon the paradigm that our children and grandchildren maybecome Gentiles and promote the thought that America is filled withmillions of potential Jews."

Opening the Gates examines the role conversion should play in theJewish future. It looks at the way the Jewish community currentlyhandles issues of intermarriage and conversion and recommAndsstrategies to incorporate conversion into a larger vision ofbuilding the next Jewish civilization. Tobin suggests what Judaismmight look like if it were to promote itself as a positive choicefor both Jews and non-Jews in the marketplace of religiousaffiliation-and tells us what the community needs to do to moldthis future. Tobin's controversial plan is sure to spark productivedialogue throughout the Jewish community.

1. A Community in Transition.

2. How Fear Constrains Us.

3. Preventing Disaster When We Should Be Attracting Jews.

4. Why We Believe What We Do About Conversion.

5. Walls We Have Built Against Potential Converts.

6. Rabbis at the Center of the Storm.

7. The Case for Conversion.

8. What We Do That Works.

9. How to Open the Gates.




The Author.

"This bold and impassioned book offers a clear-headed andunfailingly perceptive analysis of the relationship betweenwelcoming converts and a healthy Jewish future. The book should berequired reading for all concerned about that future." (Lawrence J.Epstein, president, Conversion to Judaism Resource Center)

"As Tobin promises at the outset of this provocative andstimulating book, his is a controversial thesis. But it comes fromone of the most articulate thinkers on this subject, and as such,anyone seriously interested in the future of American Jewish lifesimply must factor this well-written work into their own thinking."(Dr. Daniel Gordis, dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies)

"A revolutionary challenge to the American Jewish community . . .Solid thinking about achieving and maintaining religious identityin the midst of a pluralistic culture and what 'conversion' meansin such a culture. Any leader of an American congregation of anyfaith will find provocative ideas here." (The Rev. Loren B. Mead,founding president, the Alban Institute, Inc.)

"Gary Tobin has written the most important and challenging book inAmerican Jewish public policy in years. People may agree ordisagree, but no one interested in contemporary Jewish life will beable to ignore this work." (Steven L. Spiegel, professor ofpolitical science, UCLA)

"Gary Tobin, a leading light in Jewish communal research, embracesa provocative solution for American Jewry's continuity problem-aproactive conversion policy." (Barry A. Kosmin, director ofresearch, Institute for Jewish Policy Research)

"An important book, both passionate and pragmatic, that does notcry Cassandra but recognizes the positive potentiality for Jewishrenewal through programs and designs of proactive conversion. Theauthor is involved in his subject, as both analyst and advocate.This lucidly written book is significant for serious rabbinic andlay Jews and their institutions who recognize the urgent need toredefine and revitalize Judaism and the character of Jewishpeoplehood." (Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Valley Beth Shalom,Encino, California)

"Only someone like Dr. Gary Tobin who is so well informed on thedemography of American Jewry, could call as desperately and asunequivocally as he does for a program of 'reaching out.' There isa feeling that something can be done besides witnessing thedisappearance of American Jewry, and in that sense it is one of themost optimistic books written on the subject." (Yossi Beilin,Member of the Knesset)

"Opening the Gates is a truthful and insightful analysis of thecurrent issues facing the American Jewish community. Dr. Gary Tobinpresents innovative ideas and new approaches to revitalizingAmerican Judaism in the twenty-first century." (Rabbi NealWeinberg, University of Judaism)

"Gary Tobin gives us a fresh, top-to-bottom investigation ofattitudes and practices regarding conversion of non-Jews. AllJewish leaders will benefit from this analysis of options andconsequences." (Dean Hoge, The Catholic University of America)