The New Jew: An Unex­pect­ed Conversion

Sal­ly Srok Friedes
  • Review
By – September 9, 2011

When Sal­ly, a Mid­west­ern Catholic who hadn’t prac­ticed her reli­gion in years, met Michael, a Jew­ish New York­er who hadn’t been inside a syn­a­gogue in decades, she didn’t expect that Judaism would become a part of her life in any sig­nif­i­cant way. Yet the first time she attend­ed syn­a­gogue ser­vices with her new fam­i­ly, she found her heart filled with a deep spir­i­tu­al longing. 

Ulti­mate­ly, she found the con­nec­tion and sup­port she craved in con­vert­ing to Judaism, some­thing she nev­er expect­ed to do. This book is her warm, ten­der sto­ry, a tale told in the most per­son­al terms. Unsen­ti­men­tal yet filled with small, endear­ing details such as how her Jew­ish moth­er-in-law helped her grow clos­er to her own moth­er, the sto­ry takes us on Sally’s ten-year jour­ney from alien­ation to cul­ture shock to inner search­ing and final­ly, hap­pi­ly, to Judaism. 

Mem­oir at its best reads like fic­tion, and this small book will find a com­fort­able home on the book­shelves of rab­bis, con­verts and their fam­i­lies, those who are part of an inter­faith mar­riage, and every­one who enjoys gain­ing that touch of wis­dom only a good sto­ry can provide.

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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