Review by Daniel D. Stuhlman • AJL Reviews
When you encounter a book of Jewish law written by someone who is both a professor in a law school, a former dayan, and a former congregational rabbi, you will find content that is both well written and comprehensive in scope. Rabbi Broyde has arranged the book according to the volumes of the Shulḥan Arukh, i.e, Orach Chaim, Yoreh Deah, Even Haezer, and Choshen Mishpat. The book provides answers for the professional (rabbi) and the convert and covers every aspect of conversion and life afterwards. Some of the laws covered here are applicable under very limited and oftentimes obscure situations. For example, the Torah states that a Jew may not marry an Ammonite or Moabite. Since these nations have disappeared, such restrictions obviously no longer apply. Nevertheless, this book is a useful addition to modern interpretations of Jewish law. Overall, the main idea underpinning this work may be summarized as follows: there is a special obligation to love the convert and extra care must be taken to determine how this obligation applies.
The author’s conclusion is that there is no single origin story or theory that can explain who we are and how we became 21st century Jews. There is no easy explanation as to why we are a religion, ethnic group, and nationality. This book encourages the reader to understand the questions a convert faces so that one may understand and welcome them into the community. Recommended for academic, synagogue, and personal libraries.