Was going to talk about this later, but since I already did a snarky "ah, the free market at work" tweet about plunging church attendance, I'll talk about it now. Actually, yes, the free market at work:
tabletmag.com/sections/commu…
It turns out, when you actually have a somewhat pluralistic society, and you don't punish people for converting to minority religions, people convert even to the ones that don't proselytize, and they convert for all *sorts* of reasons.
Marriage was the main reason to convert for a long time because it was the only one that society really understood, and it came with a built-in support system for new Jews.
Turns out when you loosen things up--both in terms of being more accepting of interfaith families, and in terms of attitudes toward people who convert, you start getting to see the whole *spectrum* of reasons people are interested in it.
And it sounds like not only do people convert for a wider spectrum of reasons, but they convert more often.

"“I can’t keep up with the traffic,” Brookline, Massachusetts, Rabbi Bill Hamilton told us."
"“If I had to quantify, it has tripled over the past decade,” said Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Orthodox rabbi at Valley Beit Midrash, in Phoenix, who said the big increase dates to well before COVID-19. "
"Rachel Timoner said that her Brooklyn congregation, Beth Elohim, is doing so many conversions the “volume is straining our rabbinic team.”"
*Who* is converting is also really interesting. Anecdotally, a lot of trans people are converting to or considering converting to Judaism:

But the stat that really surprised me in this article is this one:

"For example, Mark Cohn, a Reform rabbi from North Carolina... said that there was “less compulsion from outside” than in the past, and his students—80% of whom are women—now come for “individual reasons.”"
I don't know a ton about the history of conversion to Judaism in the US, but I would have assumed that in the past, when it was primarily done for marriage, that the overwhelming majority of converts would have been female.
Simply because society was more male-dominated than it is now. I would have assumed that Christian women marrying Jewish men would have converted to raise their kids in accordance with their husbands' preferences, but the reverse wouldn't be true.
So I actually would have expected the gender ratio to be becoming more even. I don't know what it was before, but at 80% women, it seems like it must be either staying about the same or tilting even more in favor of women.
(I do know that back in the medieval and Renaissance, women were considered (by Christians) to be uniquely 'vulnerable' to the desire to convert to Judaism.)
It can be hard to remember, given how much social media has enabled Nazis to recruit, congregate, and harass Jews, that it's also resulted in more widely available information about Judaism, and the more info people have, the more likely they are to convert.
"Many new Jews just fell into a hole on Google, then emerged with a passion for Judaism."

I remember reading that the Catholic Church used to limit the amount of time Jesuits were allowed to study with Jews, because they were afraid they'd convert if they had too much exposure.
I suspect that despite the rising antisemitism of the period, the Trump presidency actually drove a lot of conversions:

"Today’s convert isn’t looking to please others. Rather, Hamilton said, she “thirsts for commitment to a people and a cause that’s larger and lasting.”"
And what I mean by that is that despite the fact that being Jewish might be more dangerous in the Trump era than it was beforehand, in times of tumult, a people that's withstood and survived tumultuous times starts to look like an ark.
My community was a lifesaver when it felt like the entire world was falling apart because hey, we've been through worse and we're still here.

And more importantly, we know how to find joy even when the world's on fire.
Moreover, there's a lot about Jewish practice that mirrors various therapeutic techniques. Turns out when there's trauma for *thousands of years*, tradition gets polished into something that helps you deal with trauma.
❤️

"And while ending up at Judaism, she can come from most any background, racial or religious, educational or socioeconomic. As Erez Sherman, a Conservative rabbi in Los Angeles, put it: “Judaism will be more diverse in America than it has ever been.”"
And while I want to emphasize that an emphasis on genealogy is dangerous and can go bad places quickly, discovering that they have Jewish ancestry can give people the feeling that they have "permission" to explore Judaism, and that is powerful and isn't something to denigrate.
E.g. "In the end, of course, we don’t rely on genealogy to affirm a conversion. But they find affirmation and comfort through the test results. It seems like they are more at ease more quickly in their decision. "
Especially for people raised in the what I call "terminally polite" segments of America (upper-midwest Lutherans, for example) there's this sense that you're not *allowed* to be curious about other people's traditions, because it's none of your business.
And if discovering that you have Jewish ancestry makes you feel like it's okay to be curious about Judaism when otherwise you'd be afraid you were being nosy or too forward, go for it!
I definitely think this is a real thing--I've heard it from people I know:

"There may also be a sense that Judaism, with its emphasis on exile, has something to offer marginalized or transient people."
This is also something that, anecdotally, I've heard:

"Ed Farber, a Conservative rabbi for 47 years, works in the Miami area, where he has seen an increase from the Latino community—Latinos make up half his converts, he estimated."
I have a friend from New Mexico whose Catholic family puts stones on graves and has a few other traditions that line up with the fact that a lot of the Spaniards who came to the area were "New Christians" fleeing the nightmare of Ferdinand and Isabella.
And again, anecdotally, I've heard a lot about burgeoning interest in the American Southwest, Mexico, and South America among people wanting to reconnect with Jewish heritage.
And that makes intuitive sense to me, given that Christianity was violently forced on most of the population--it seems like a way to not hate your European ancestry, to say, okay, but some of them were actually *fleeing* Christian control, that's the part I want to connect with.
Oh yeah, the "trans converts to Judaism" thing isn't your imagination, at least according to rabbis:

"Sexual and gender minorities now seem to make up an outsize number of today’s converts. “One population that has increased the most is trans people,” said Yanklowitz"
This is something that I think I don't want to see change:

"there’s still a cultural taboo against directly suggesting to a non-Jew that she might consider becoming Jewish."
I think we should be *welcoming.* I think that if someone expresses interest, we should reassure them that it's okay for them to be curious. I think we should be happy to teach if people come to be taught.
But I think that the taboo against proselytizing allows us to be authentic in a way that religions that do proselytize struggle with because they have to "market" themselves.
Like, there's an authenticity and an ethical straightforwardness I really appreciate about having nothing to sell people outside the community.

We are who we are. Take us or leave us.
It's not a clear-cut line, of course, because the truth is we don't have the luxury of being completely apathetic to what outsiders think of us since then they just spread all kinds of antisemitic libel and we get killed...
...but correcting misconceptions is still, I think, a distinct thing.
This also really resonates:

"[Not converting for marriage] but rather converting for the ideas of Judaism—the theology, which ironically many Jews from birth know so little about."
Converts tend to end up really knowledgeable about the *theory* of Judaism, while a lot of Jews from birth tend to know the practice but less of the *reasons.*

Which, of course, makes sense. You tend to learn history and theory through formal study.
Heh, yes, this seems to be a BIG factor, especially for people coming from evangelical backgrounds:

“Some people who convert are ambivalent about God or in a process of questioning about God, and this matches where many Jews are as well,”
One convert I know said it made her realize how "claustrophobic" her evangelical upbringing was.

"Many who choose Judaism have come from other traditions where they felt pressure to be loyal to a set of beliefs, and they find relief that in Judaism there is room to question"
This also seems like an under-studied thing:

"“I think that there is an appeal in being part of an ancient people in this time in which everything is disposable,” said Lizzi Heydemann, of the “emergent” community Mishkan Chicago."
Like, staying off social media for Shabbat was *such* a change for my mental health. Ritual is stabilizing in chaotic times.
(I see parallels in revived interest in Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions as well. Everything moves really fast and changes really fast these days, and religious practices that slow you down are often the thing that keeps you functioning.)
Anyway, I think that article and the survey they did is a really great corrective to things like Pew surveys, that don't really get Judaism and tend to make converts invisible.

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More from @Delafina777

3 Jun
So many of you are still following this antisemitic bitch and her “you can’t trust Jews when they talk about Christianity because trauma makes them irrational” rhetoric.
Like again, harming people and then telling everyone not to trust them when they talk about how you harmed them BECAUSE they’re traumatized is some real “you shouldn’t convict me for murdering my parents because I’m an orphan now” energy.
It’s textbook abuser gaslighting and I can’t believe y’all are still engaging with this scumbag.
Read 4 tweets
1 Jun
I actually have a theory about this, and I hadn't thought about it in relationship to gender before, but it meshes well.

And that is that Judaism creates binaries *in order* to collapse them.
Like, in theory, Judaism is one of the most binary worldviews ever, right? The whole shtick is about separating things into binaries. From Day One, literally. God separates light from darkness. That's how creation gets underway.
And it seems like the text is saying that the only way to manifest reality is to divide it into oppositional binaries.
Read 17 tweets
27 May
Oh great, an app that encourages people to treat every event around them that *could* be a crime as a crime, form a mob, and hunt down whoever they’ve decided is a perpetrator.

Definitely a very good idea to make a literal lynch mob app.
Racism but make it a subscription

“Users are flooded with notifications in what multiple sources interpret as an attempt to make users feel anxious enough about their neighborhoods to buy "Protect," a $19.99 per month service”
What if Nextdoor but you paid it to call the police AND assemble a mob every time your Black neighbor took out their trash

"Citizen can’t make money unless it makes its users believe there are constant, urgent threats around them at all times,"
Read 8 tweets
27 May
flashback to meeting for AAA shooter franchise

marketing revealed their new ad idea, which implied that the one recurring female character in the game was being violated with a chainsaw

when we protested, they said they needed to make sure audiences knew it wasn't a "girl game"
Like, just sit with that for a moment. This super testosterone-y game about shooting things, well into its franchise life, and marketing is worried that if they don't show the only female presence in the game being violently sexually violated, people might think it's too girly.
And now imagine--big room, big meeting, all these dudes--being a woman in that room, one of 2 or maybe 3 among like 15 or 16 guys.

And you're like hey maybe let's not do this?

And a marketing guy says it to you, in the tone one would use with a particularly dense child.
Read 23 tweets
26 May
I'm also really sick of the impossible demands for ideological purity put on Jews from white gentiles sitting pretty in places like the US and England.

Like, any time the subject of Israel comes up, suddenly everyone's staring at the Jew or Jews in the room.
And again, American Jews are *more likely* to be critical of Israel than American Christians.

But any time it comes up, suddenly you're under a microscope and no one's staring at the Christians at the BBQ, waiting to pick apart *any reaction they have.*
I watched an Israeli expatriate get berated for mentioning a restaurant he missed in Tel Aviv.

It was at a fucking 4th of July barbecue.
Read 31 tweets
26 May
seeing a lot of absolutist statements about oppressed and oppressors lately

and, like, most people are both?

men in marginalized communities oppress women in those communities, marginalized cishet people oppress trans and other queer people, abled people oppress disabled ppl
like very few people's identities can simply be reduced to Oppressed

and very few people's identities can simply be reduced to Oppressor

there are a LOT of different types of marginalization and a LOT of different types of privilege
and very few people are on the same end of every one of those axes
Read 9 tweets

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