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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

Apr 1999, Jossey-Bass

240 pages

Select type: Paperback

In Stock

$32.95

Description

In Opening the Gates, Gary Tobin challenges his fellow American Jews to avoid the process of entropy that could take a devastating toll in the Jewish community. "This should be our primary task," Tobin passionately argues. Tobin confronts his community with the eye-opening reality that "in order to rebuild and revitalize Judaism in this country we must rethink our religion as something both born Jews and converts must actively choose and stop blaming intermarriage for Judaism's decline." He implores the Jewish community to shift its focus from preventing intermarriage to embracing an open, positive, accessible, and joyful process of encouraging non-Jews to become Jews. As Tobin bluntly puts it, "We must abandon the paradigm that our children and grandchildren may become Gentiles and promote the thought that America is filled with millions of potential Jews."

Opening the Gates examines the role conversion should play in the Jewish future. It looks at the way the Jewish community currently handles issues of intermarriage and conversion and recommAnds strategies to incorporate conversion into a larger vision of building the next Jewish civilization. Tobin suggests what Judaism might look like if it were to promote itself as a positive choice for both Jews and non-Jews in the marketplace of religious affiliation-and tells us what the community needs to do to mold this future. Tobin's controversial plan is sure to spark productive dialogue throughout the Jewish community.
Preface.

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.

Resources.

Glossary.

References.

The Author.

Index.
"This bold and impassioned book offers a clear-headed and unfailingly perceptive analysis of the relationship between welcoming converts and a healthy Jewish future. The book should be required 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 and stimulating book, his is a controversial thesis. But it comes from one of the most articulate thinkers on this subject, and as such, anyone seriously interested in the future of American Jewish life simply 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 identity in the midst of a pluralistic culture and what 'conversion' means in such a culture. Any leader of an American congregation of any faith 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 in American Jewish public policy in years. People may agree or disagree, but no one interested in contemporary Jewish life will be able to ignore this work." (Steven L. Spiegel, professor of political science, UCLA)

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

"An important book, both passionate and pragmatic, that does not cry Cassandra but recognizes the positive potentiality for Jewish renewal through programs and designs of proactive conversion. The author is involved in his subject, as both analyst and advocate. This lucidly written book is significant for serious rabbinic and lay Jews and their institutions who recognize the urgent need to redefine and revitalize Judaism and the character of Jewish peoplehood." (Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, California)

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

"Opening the Gates is a truthful and insightful analysis of the current issues facing the American Jewish community. Dr. Gary Tobin presents innovative ideas and new approaches to revitalizing American Judaism in the twenty-first century." (Rabbi Neal Weinberg, University of Judaism)

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