That’s right folks, I’m a patrilineal Jew! I underwent a conversion last year and converted to, er, Conservative Judaism.
Here’s my Forward op-ed:
I have always been a Jew — and after a cursory dunk, the Conservative movement agrees.
Shortly before this past Rosh Hashanah, I was joined by three rabbis and my father, Harold Wilensky (he just happened to be in town), in the waiting room of a suburban New Jersey mikveh.
I was there on that gloomy morning to convert to Judaism. It was something of an unexpected turn.
My roommates, non-Jews who know me as nothing if not a Jew, had a pertinent question: What, if anything, was I converting from?
Until my baptismal dip I was a patrilineal Jew — in some eyes a non-Jew.
The Conservative rabbinate protests that it cannot recognize patrilineal descent because that would violate its understanding of Jewish law. Coming from people who drive to services on the Sabbath, that reeks. When reality, reason and the changing worldview of the Jews in the pews have called, the Conservative movement has managed to trot out new Halacha that changes the previously unchangeable.
It is time for them to do that again; 1983 was a long time ago. We are growing up, we are starting families and, yes, some of us would like to join your synagogues.
Now go read the whole thing.