Tonight, as we begin the observance of Shavout, we are especially grateful to have inspirational role models like the biblical Ruth and Naomi, who exemplify the importance of welcoming newcomers into our midst. The story of family members wanting to identify with the Jewish community is much the same today as it was in biblical times—we have to find ways to mentor and embrace not only Jews by Choice, but all those who cast their lot with the Jewish people. To read JOI’s illustrated version of the Book of Ruth with commentary, click here.
In a recent article that mentions JOI’s work, Edmon J. Rodman, a JTA columnist, writes about the connection between Shavuot, the Book of Ruth, and Jews by Choice. Mary Lane Potter, a Jew by Choice from Seattle, thinks the Book of Ruth is read at Shavuot because, “It’s the holiday commemorating ‘the moment of revelation,’ a moment when all need to be included and welcomed.”
Sometimes there are issues that are unique to Jews by Choice. To address their needs, JOI has developed several programs. These programs are designed to enhance their experiences within the Jewish community. Empowering Ruth is a free program that supports women Jews by Choice through a virtual email community and through an education course. We also offer Shofar, an online community for men who have converted to Judaism or are in the process of conversion. Through online discussions, we hope to develop a lively, thought-provoking place where individuals can talk about important issues unique to men who are Jews by Choice. This year, let’s not miss the opportunity to acknowledge those in our community—whether they are Jews by Choice or individuals dedicated to creating Jewish homes—and include them as an integral part of Jewish life. Through reaching out and welcoming them in, we will strengthen the Jewish community now and in the future.
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