Abstract

Eliezer Berkovits was singular among contemporary Orthodox rabbis in his approach to conversion. This article describes the activist stance Berkovits took on this issue in the larger Jewish world, and analyzes in detail his halakic analysis of traditional laws of conversion. Berkovits felt that these laws had to be applied in light of a broad legal context that demanded that the commandment of ahavat yisrael (love of the Jewish people) be honored. His concern for the supremacy of this latter commandment in the hierarchy of Jewish values led him to adopt a lenient and inclusive stance on conversion and even caused him to countenance the participation of Conservative and Reform rabbis alongside Orthodox rabbis on a rabbinic court assembled for conversion. By comparing the writings of Berkovits on these issues to those of his colleagues in the Orthodox world, this article demonstrates that his stance on conversion was unique in the Orthodox world.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 37-53
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-23
Open Access
No
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