Elchanan Poupko
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​A Rabbi’s Letter to Roy Moore’s Lawyer and Other Christian Jews

​A rabbi's message to Christian Jews: Judaism is a family -- hard to get into, even harder to leave
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore stands behind his wife Kayla Moore as she speaks during a campaign event at Jordan's Activity Barn on December 11, 2017, in Midland City, Alabama. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore stands behind his wife Kayla Moore as she speaks during a campaign event at Jordan's Activity Barn on December 11, 2017, in Midland City, Alabama. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

Dear Mr. Wishnatsky,

There is very little that Kayla Moore — Roy Moore’s wife — and I would agree on; one of those things is that you are still Jewish. Yes, of course, you did convert to Christianity and are a practicing Christian, but we both agree, you are a Jew. Let me tell you why:

There is nothing in Christian law that says that you are Jewish. Christianity is a faith and a system of beliefs, and so once you accept that faith, and are accepted into it, you are as Christian as anyone else. And yet, according to Jewish law and traditions, no matter how many times you converted, you are still Jewish. This is not because Judaism is a race, a topic that has been brought to media spotlight following the discovery that Kayla Moore referred to you as a “Jew”, despite your conversion. Judaism is not a race. If someone authentically converts to Judaism and a minute later they convert to any other religion, they are still regarded as Jewish; this is true regardless of race or ethnicity.

You may ask why? Why would a Jewish convert remain Jewish? The answer has to do with the fact that Judaism is not a race or a merely a system of beliefs, Judaism is a family. This is why Jews do not proselytize or missionize and are so reluctant to accept converts, because Judaism is a family that is not easy to get into, and even harder to get out of.

This is why no matter how much holy water came onto you, or how many alters you approached accepting Jesus, we still see you as Jewish. Because you are a part of our family. You may not want it, you may not accept it, but you are still one of ours. Is this why Kayla Moore said you were Jewish or was it a show of antisemitism? I do not know. Perhaps some anti-Semites hold your Judaism against you because they know that no matter what you decided we still love you, and see you as a lost family member, I do not know.

Joke has it that an elderly Jewish woman who was once outside an isolated Ashram in India, requesting to meet with the revered Guru, sought out by everyone for his wisdom. She was told that the Guru cannot be bothered by her for too long and that she would have to keep what she said to under 10 words.

The woman came into the silent sanctuary in the hearts of India’s forests, walked right over to the meditating Guru and said:” my dear Moishy, it’s time to come home”.

This joke reflects the Jewish attitudes to those who have chosen a different path: there is always someone waiting at home. All of us.

Martin, when I saw your tragic story, the story of someone who was clearly a spiritual seeker and sadly didn’t find meaning within the Jewish system, I was saddened. I was saddened because I was reminded of so many Jews who grow up with limited access to Jewish education, who then abandon their Judaism. It reminded me of how vigilant I as a rabbi and an educator must be in endowing to others depth of knowledge and pride in our heritage. But more than that, I am saddened by seeing a family member who was not made comfortable and did not feel like he or she belonged in our family.

During the Holocaust, many Jewish parents put their children into Church-orphanages, hidden as non-Jews, so that the Nazis wouldn’t kill them. These parents thought that they would come back once the war was over, and take back their children. In most cases, they weren’t able. Rabbis and ordinary Jews would travel from one monetary to the other, to find these children. Not because Jews missionize or proselytize, but because these children were lost family members. Martin, you too seem pretty lost.

You went to pursue morality and spirituality and ended up working for Roy Moore. It turns out that Roy’s wife, and probably some others, don’t even see you as one of their own. Kayla Moore was right — perhaps for very wrong reasons — you are Jewish. I say to you paraphrasing that dedicated Jewish mother: Martin, it’s time to come home.

WIth much love, from a religion that is not a religion but a family,

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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