Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Membership in the Community: Invading Your Territory

It was recently brought to my attention that some Orthodox synagogues ask on their membership forms whether you or your spouse have converted.

I'm not going to lie -- I find this incredibly invasive, unnecessary, and upsetting. It goes beyond the "once you convert you're as a Jew always." I might be willing to waiver if I knew that the only person seeing the application was the rabbi, but the membership committee of most synagogues gets the form first, and why does the membership chair need to know that I or my spouse converted? Whose right is it?

I understand that it is problematic for Jewish organizations that provide Torah education to individuals and that typically they need to know if the individual they are providing funding for is a halachic Jew (e.g., Partners in Torah), but someone who is willing to pay dues at your synagogue who says they are Jewish, why do you need their certificate of proof? Why do you need to know every last detail of their personal history?

What do you guys think?