Letter: How to be Jewish

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The Independent Online
From Mrs Rachel Frankel

Sir: It is hard to be a Jew ("Are Jews marrying oblivion?" 15 February). When we (a Jewish couple) adopted our son in New York, we had to find a Jewish urologist to circumcise him with mohel (ritual circumciser) present, later followed by immersion in the mikveh (ritual bath) with three Orthodox rabbis to sign documents in English and Hebrew. And our son will probably never be considered Jewish by the most Orthodox.

We have now started the conversion process for our adopted daughter, involving several rabbis and the Beth Din (Jewish regulatory body). We are happy to do this, but I cannot help but think how much easier the conversion process is, say, for a new Baptist in the American south who gets dunked in the water, end of story.

On the other hand (as we Jewish people like to say), less visible than the many regulations which pervade Judaism is a rich set of behavioural guidelines which offer very specific steps to help the bereaved, the sick and the less fortunate. Individuals are constantly encouraged to develop empathy for those around them as part of a personal relationship with God. This may be the part of the religion most worth preserving.

Yours sincerely,

Rachel Frankel

Poole,

Dorset

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