Volume 8, Number 1, May 2012

A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

“The Weaver creates the fabric in accordance with His Will, adorning it with a magnificent array of hues – G’vanim – as His heart may prompt.” It is in precisely these terms that the Kuzari describes God’s constantly unfolding work of Creation. Our own G’vanim – the Journal of the Academy for Jewish Religion – similarly makes a modest contribution to God’s work – and to our understanding of God’s Word – by weaving together the creative insights and heartfelt perspectives of an array of scholars and authors. The Academy for Jewish Religion intuitively embodies the vision of the Kuzari by understanding that a principled pluralism sensitive to the wide variety of hues reflected in the Jewish Community is indispensable to a full appreciation of God’s Creation and God’s Will.

To this end, we and our readers are indebted to those who contributed to this edition of G’vanim. Three of the articles herein collected touch upon issues related to conversion to Judaism. Rabbi Juan Mejia, an accomplished and devoted mentor to Jews-by-Choice and, in particular, the descendants of anusim both in the United States and in Latin America, has provided us with a thoughtful analysis of Maimonides’ approach to conversion, both as philosopher and halakhist, suggesting a classical, nuanced model for contemporary Klal Yisrael. Rabbi Len Levin, a member of the AJR faculty, shares with our readers his presentation at the Academy’s recent intensive examination of the challenges of patrilineal descent, similarly providing a vision for 21st Century application.

I am pleased to contribute my own recent responsum on the inclusion of converts to Judaism among “judges” impaneled on rabbinic courts. Finally, life-long Jewish educator Mervyn Danker, now Director of the San Francisco Bay Region of the American Jewish Committee, explores the implications of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology and weaponry. We are also grateful to Rabbi David Wise for his book review of Esau’s Blessing by Dr. Ora Horn Prouser, AJR Executive Vice President and Dean.

May this edition of G’vanim further strengthen AJR’s mission by providing a glimpse at the beautiful fabric emanating from the heart of the Divine Weaver.

Joseph H. Prouser
May 2012

Editorial Board

T A B L E   O F   C O N T E N T S

Ramban’s Historical Approach to Laws of Conversion
By Juan Mejia

A Proposal for the Purification of All Jews
By Leonard Levin

Ana Ger Ana: May a Convert to Judaism Serve on a Beit Din?
By Joseph H. Prouser

Iran, Its Nuclear Ambition, Its Human Rights Abuses and the Dependence on Foreign Imported Oil
By Meryyn Danker

Book Review: Esaus’ Blessing, by Ora H. Prouser
By David Wise