When a Jew isn’t

When a Jew isn’t

I would like to respond to the letter that says that belief in Jesus does not disqualify someone as a Jew (“Messianic Jews are Jews,” December 20).

I believe the letter-writer, Harry Eisenberg, takes several quotes out of context.

First of all, the talmudic saying that no matter how much he sins a Jew is still Jewish is never meant to include a convert to another faith. It simply means that someone does not need a specific ceremony to return to the Jewish faith. Had Mr. Eisenberg asked an Orthodox rabbi, he would have answered that a believer in Jesus of Jewish origin would be excluded from all participation in any sort of Jewish ritual.

The exclusion of converts to Christianity is not limited to Orthodoxy. The Zionist movement at its beginning included atheists but excluded converts to another faith. The Israeli Supreme Court in the Brother Daniel case excluded a Carmelite monk from claiming citizen under the law of return.

As I indicated in my earlier letter, a convert to another faith repudiates Jewish history in a way that an atheist or agnostic does not. To expand Jewish identity the way that Mr. Eisenberg wishes to do renders Jewishness meaningless.