This class enters into the middle of a course on reading the Talmudic material regarding conversion from masechet Yevamot. In this session we began to explore different notion of Jewish People-hood based on different concepts of the process of conversion. It is important to note from the beginning that in the contemporary setting we tend to move from our notions of Jewish People-hood to a definition of the process of conversion. This is what leads to inter-denominational differences regarding a complete conversion. When reading rabbinic texts we have to turn this method around and attempt to tease out notions of Jewish People-hood based on the details of the process of conversion that the rabbis give us.
This session is loosely based on the conceptual framework articulated by Avi Sagi and Zvi Zohar in their important work Transforming Identity: The Ritual Transformation from Gentile to Jew – Structure and Meaning. While this is an extremely important book, I am not in agreement with some of their fundamental assumptions about rabbinic texts and halakhah.