Why doesn't Judaism want converts?

I’ve once talked to a rabbi, and he said they have a duty to discourage people who want to convert to Judaism. So they want only people born into Jewish families to practice Judaism.

They question is, why is that? If they think they have the truth, they should be spreading it to everybody. Even in Biblical times, they didn’t attempt to convert the Philistines, Phoenicians, etc. So it seems the ethnocentric character of Judaism doesn’t start with the Pharisees.

Do they secretly know their religion is incomplete?


Not true. While some Jewish sects, most notably Syrian Jews, do not accept or recognize converts, the majority of Jewish sects do.

No. What sort of question is this?

You are approaching Judaism with a Christian mindset of evangelisation. Judaism simply doesn’t behave like that. As an ethno-religion, they want to make sure that a convert is really serious about becoming Jewish. The ethnic and cultural component of Judaism sorta mandates that any convert has to be made aware that by converting he or she is not just accepting a new religion but a new culture and nation.

Persecution was a factor as well.

In addition, Judaism does not teach that one has to be Jewish in order to be saved, so Jews felt no pressure to evangelise in order to “save”.

Disclaimer: Not Jewish. Will defer to actual Jews now.

Christ’s peace.


Isn’t the whole idea that God chose a specific group of people who were literally blood relatives of the 12 tribes of Israel - the sons of Jacob? Converts don’t fit into that vision. Maybe a personcould marry in… but otherwise it seems like a family-group.


One major difference between Judaism and other religions is that we don’t believe other people are disadvantaged by not being Jews - nobody is doomed to eternal damnation for not agreeing with us.

Cutting a very long story short, the theory runs that God made a covenant with Noah that all human beings should follow. The covenant with Abraham just means that us Jews get to do more stuff but don’t get a lot for it. Non-Jews have as much hope for ‘the World to Come’ as Jews but don’t have all the extra rules.

People can convert but they really have to want to.


Unless you’re looking for a safe space for sniping, it’d be better to ask a Jew, don’t you think? While the o/p doesn’t give me much hope you’re looking for an answer rather than trying to reinforce an answer you’ve already adopted, there’s a place to find the answers you’re looking for, online, if you’re sincere.

Chabad is from the conservative side of the Jewish faith. I’ve spoken to a couple of their rabbis before, once about young earthism and once about the Levitical calls to execute homosexuals. These guys are sharp.

To my first questions, the rabbi answered that they distinguish between physical time and spiritual time, and their texts are describing the latter. I use that apologetic when talking to my students about exponential decay and dating methods to this day, because there’s always a proportion who find these studies difficult because of their religious beliefs.

I was motivated to ask about the latter because a poster on another board was openly advocating for following that law, to wit, giving a citation of the passage from Leviticus and the statement, “We should do this.” While horrified, I was hoping an argument against this from an original adherent devoted to the law would be useful. As it turned out, yes, the rabbi supported the law, but he added that there are a host of criteria that need to be satisfied before it can be carried out.

The rabbi immediately shot down my question asking if the instruction was contextual by saying they never question the “why” of anything in Jewish Law, because they don’t believe in looking for reasons not to obey their god. Absolutely seamless.


Careful . . . . :grinning:

Conservative Judaism is just not Orthodox!

It’s a terminology thing.


So they have no quarrel with paganism or idolatry as long as it’s practiced by people from other ethnic backgrounds?

Small “c” conservative, lol, but thanks!

To clarify, Chabad is Orthodox.

We are supposed to be a beacon of ethical monotheism, not a crusade.


I don’t exactly understand… if the Philistines sacrificed children to their pagan gods, converting them to Judaism might have saved lives. Did any of the Old Testament prophets preach ethical monotheism to these tribes?

You’re confusing trying to persuade people against eating animals alive (for example) with some kind of need to convert to the whole Abrahamic/Mosaic Covenant. The Noahide Covenant is enough.


I’ve never heard of the Noahide covenant. It seems vaguely similar to Aristotle’s concept of natural law. But still, did the OT prophets preach the Noahide laws to the Philistines?

I gave a link to it above.

I’ll look up old copies of the “Ashkelon & Gath Daily News” when I have the time.


Yes, I’ve read the link. I only said I didn’t know about it while writing the OP.


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S’ok! :smiley:

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The Noahide laws really are kind of like that. I’d never thought of it that way before. Good observation!

What do you mean “get to do more stuff”?

Your description sounds kind of like modern-day Catholicism ever since extra ecclesiam nulla salus has been denatured almost to the point of absurdness. The modern Catholic mindset, in a nutshell, seems to be “all good people who seek God — or would seek Him if they knew they were supposed to — are, in a roundabout way, ‘in the Church’, even though they are not formally members of her, and if they act in accord with their consciences — even if those consciences make fewer demands upon them, due to being improperly formed — they will ultimately save their souls”. Following this reasoning — and if I misunderstand the modern Catholic take on EENS, someone please let me know — it might be actually easier for a non-believer to save their soul without the sacraments, than it is for a Catholic to save their soul with the sacraments. Their consciences accuse them of fewer sins, therefore they are not culpable for doing the things for which a Catholic would be damned. Am I right?

I suppose it should be evident that I’m not a fan of this mindset.

There’s a huge difference between “becoming a Catholic to follow God more closely and more perfectly” and "becoming a Catholic because, in the objective order, you cannot save your soul otherwise.

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We’ve got an awful lot of rules and tradition, there’s a lot more to it than a ban on bacon sandwiches.

Whether you’re a fan of this mindset or not, doesn’t really matter - just keep to the Noahide Covenant and, from a Jewish perspective, you should be OK.

Judaism is much more a ‘doing/not-doing stuff’ religion rather than a ‘believing/not-believing stuff’ religion, orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy (with a small ‘o’).


I almost wish that Catholicism discouraged converts in the same manner. It seems like a lot of people convert to Catholicism and then start questioning their choice, in some cases almost immediately. I know that the Church wants to be a big tent and try to get everybody in communion with the Church to the extent they can, but it is frustrating to me sometimes to watch people go through a whole long process of RCIA and conversion and then start to complain and talk about quitting the Church. I wish I could tell them “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” but that’s not an appropriate attitude for a Catholic.


Or want to change things/wonder why things aren’t done in a way in which they are accustomed.


Yes. “I’ve been in the Church for 3 months and I have all these great ideas about how we could change it to be more like the church I just left/ or more like my fantasy ideal of what a church should be…but no one will listen to me. Catholic people are so cold and unfriendly and not open to new ideas.”

They’re like the new employee who just got hired out of college and wants to reorganize the whole department.

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