List of converts to Judaism

List of converts to Judaism

This article endeavours to list some notable people who have converted, or are believed to have converted, to Judaism. Their notability is based either on outside endeavors for otherwise famous people, or on circumstances which would make their conversion itself to be notable -- such as professional clergy from other religions. The article does not differentiate between the different branches of Judaism, and doesn't list people who married a Jewish spouse without converting. See also Who is a Jew? on issues related to the acceptance of conversions throughout the Jewish community.

(A number of prominent figures, such as Madonna, have recently become followers of "new age" version of Kabbalah, derived from the body of Jewish mystical teaching also called Kabbalah, but do not consider themselves – and are not considered – Jewish.)

List of converts to Judaism from Christianity

Although some people notable for arts or sciences have happened to convert to Judaism, there is a small group of people who are notable "because" they have converted to Judaism: professional clergy from other religions. In some cases conversion meant persecution or even death. In other cases conversion simply meant a change in career.

Christian Proselyte Communities

* Abayudaya [ [ A History of the Abuyudaya Jews of Uganda ] ]
* Bnei Menashe [ [ BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Rabbi backs India's 'lost Jews' ] ]
* Bene Ephraim Claim to be Jews who converted to Christianity, then converted back to Judaism [ [ Kulanu: Bene Ephraim of Andhra Pradesh, South India ] ]
* B'nai Moshe (Inca Jews) [ [ Converting Inca Indians in Peru ] ]
* San Nicandro Jews [ [ Judaism - Reflections on Giur ] ]
* Subbotniks
* Veracruz Jews [ [ Kulanu: Claim Mexico playing host to a Lost Tribe ] ]

Former Christian clergy and Christian theologians

* Abraham the Monk converted to Judaism in the 600's
* Bishop Bodo, confessor to Louis the Pious [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
* Obadiah the Proselyte (musician) or Obadiah the Proselyte (priest) (né Johannes), priest and composer [ The University of Chicago Magazine: August 2004] , [] , [ University of Calgary] , The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed 2001), art. Obadiah the Proselyte]
* Robert Reddinge English preaching friar, of the Dominican order; converted to Judaism about 1275
* Nicolas Antoine
* Aleksei (former archpriest) [ - ALEKSEI: ] ]
*Juan Carrasco (former Augustin friar) [ [ - DANIELILLO OF LEGHORN ] ] [ [ - CARRASCO ] ]
* Johann Peter Spaeth, German theologian [ [ Commentary Magazine] ] "Johann Peter Spaeth (about 1642-1701), author of an attack on Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-politicus, finally became a Jewish convert, called himself "Moses Germanus," and was even circumcised a few years before his death in 1697"
*Andrew/Andreas, the Archbishop of Bari, a city in Southern Italy, declared himself a Jew upon a journey to Constantinople in 1066 and subsequentally fled to Egypt. [] [ Part Two ] ]
* Wecelin, a cleric who worked for Duke Conrad of Carinthia, accepted Judaism sometime about 1005. There is written evidence that Wecelin published a brief tract against Christianity. Wecelin, who may have fled to Egypt, is only one of many 11th century converts described in the Cairo Genizah.
* Cornelio Da Montalcino, (a Franciscan friar who had embraced Judaism, and was burned alive on the Campo dei Fiori.) [ [ The Jewish Community of Rome ] ] [ [ This Month in Jewish History: September ] ] [ [ Jewish History 1550 - 1559 ] ] [] [ [ Jewish Expulsions ] ] [ [ Same day any year, any millenium Any Yom Hashoah - Villagers with Torches ] ] [ [ - ROME: ] ]
* Dionis (former priest)

1970s to present

* Asher Wade an ex-Methodist pastor; he converted after studying the history of the holocaust in 1978 to Orthodox Judaism. [ Official Website]
* Shlomo Ben Avraham "Ole" Brunell, former Lutheran minister from Finland and Australia. Along with him, his wife Ruth (formerly Runa), two adult daughters, two teenage daughters, and a former son-in-law also converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ Official book] [ [ Jerusalem Post] ] [ [ Strangers No More: One Family's Exceptional Journey from Christianity to Judaism: Books: Shlomo Ben Avraham Brunell ] ]
* Geza Vermes, expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls and former Catholic priest, he reverted to Judaism. [ [ - Providential Accidents: An Autobiography : Geza Vermes : ISBN 9780847693405 ] ]
* JoAnn Fay, a nun converted to Orthodox Judaism in 1980. []
* John David Scalamonti, a former Roman Catholic priest, he converted in 1972 to Orthodox Judaism [ Official book at] [ Official book at Barnes and Noble] [ [] , [] , []
[] and []
* John Hove, a former Lutheran pastor, he converted to Orthodox Judaism in 1988. []
* Yaakov Parisi, Former Christian Minister from Oklahoma (who was born Roman Catholic). [ [ Students and Adults Immerse in Yeshiva Experience - Stories - Chabad-Lubavitch News ] ]
* Sheldon Christopher Smith, a former Pentacostal Pastor converted to Judaism in 1987 []
* Thomas Roper, an ex-Baptist minister, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ [ Thomas Roper’S Story ] ]
* [ Gavriel Sanders] former evangelical minister and missionary in Israel. Mark Sanders ultimately converted to Orthodox Judaism. He served on staff with Jews for Judaism before moving to the East Coast [ [ Home Page for the Gavriel Sanders radio show] ]
* Tonica Marlow, a former female evangelical minister and daughter of a Pentecostal preacher. She converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ Official book] [ [ To Play With Fire: One Woman's Remarkable Odyssey: Books: Tova Mordechai ] ]
* Aharón Calderón, a former monk of a Catholic monastery in South America, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ [ From the Monastery to Meah Shearim: the story of an unlikely Chassid ] ]
* Armando Quiros, a former catholic priest, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ Official book] [ [ Barnes & - Books: Spiritual Homecoming, by Armando Quiros, Paperback ] ]
* Julie Galambush, a former American Baptist Minister, she converted to Judaism. [ [ Julie Galambush from HarperCollins Publishers ] ]
* Michael Flanagan, a former Baptist minister, his mother-in-law, wife and their two adult sons, grandchildren, daughter-in-law also converted to Orthodox Judaism. []
* Ahuva Gray served as a Christian minister in the African American community both in Chicago and Los Angeles for fourteen years. She left that world in 1996 to fulfill her spiritual yearnings and become an Orthodox Jew. [ Official Website] [ Official book] [ [ Biography ] ]
* Nobutaka Hattori, a former Protestant Minister of Japan, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ [ untitled ] ]
* Carlos Samuel Salas, a former Methodist minister, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ [ JCR: Be'Chol Lashon Update 12_17_04 ] ]
* Abraham Carmel, a former Anglican and Roman Catholic priest, he converted to Orthodox Judaism. [ Official book] [ [ So Strange My Path: A Spiritual Pilgr
* Mariano Otero, a former South Florida-based former Pentacostal minister is now a counter-missionary []
* Timothy Olivieri Former Catholic Deacon to Reform Judaism
* Jack Saunders, a former minister [ [ ] ]
*Carole Le Faivre-Rochester, a former Domican nun, she converted to Judaism in 1989 [ [ Stars of David | The Jewish Exponent ] ]
*Hank Eng, New York born Chinese-American. He is a candidate for Colorado's 6th District in the U.S House of Representatives in the 2008 race. [ [] ]
*William G. Dever, a former evangelical minister, he converted to Judaism and became a world-renowned Biblical scholar [Moment Magazine 21:1 (Feb 28, 1996), pg. 32ff.]
*Yaakov Ephraim Parisi, former Pentecostal minister []

Upon marriage

* Tom Arnold, actor (upon marrying Roseanne Barr) [ [ IMDB] ]
* May Britt, actress (upon marrying Sammy Davis, Jr.) ["May Britt Joins Jewish Faith", "The New York Times", 18 October 1960, p. 46]
* Kate Capshaw, actress (upon marrying Steven Spielberg) [ [ New York Times] ]
* Cristian Castro, singer (upon marrying Valeria Liberman) [] ]
* Connie Chung, news anchor (upon marrying Maury Povich)
* Jacqueline du Pré, musician (upon marrying Daniel Barenboim) [ A Publishers Weekly review of Jacqueline Du Pre: A Biography by Carol Easton [] states she was "the daughter of anti-Semitic parents who herself converted to Judaism and at age 21 married Jewish pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim."]
* Isla Fisher, model and actress (upon marrying Sacha Baron Cohen)cite news | last =Gensler| first =Howard| coauthors=| title ='Borat' to wed Aussie actress Isla Fisher| pages=| publisher =| date =2006-11-27 | url =| accessdate =2006-11-29 ]
* Mary Hart (* 1950) American television personality, long-time host of the entertainment program Entertainment "Tonight" (upon marrying Burt Sugarman) [Hart - [] "Thought there are no Jewish Republicans in show biz? Well, Bush contributors include... host Mary Hart, who’s a convert to Judaism..."]
* Carolyn Jones, actress (upon marrying Aaron Spelling) [ [ IMDB] ]
* Cameron Kerry, politician, brother of John Kerry (upon marrying Kathy Weinman) [ [ Seattle Times] ]
* Adah Isaacs Menken, stage actress (upon marrying musician Alexander Isaac Menken) [ [ Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco] states of her marriage, "Adah was not at all interested in home or family; in fact, the only thing she shared sincerely with him was his religion–she adopted the Jewish faith and remained steadfast in it until her death."]
* Marilyn Monroe, actress (upon marrying Arthur Miller) [ [ "BBC On this Day"] ]
* Santa Montefiore, novelist (on marriage to Simon Sebag Montefiore) ["The Independent" Feb 7, 2005; online here [ Findarticles] accessed 11 Dec 2006]
* Norma Shearer, actress (upon marrying Irving Thalberg)
* Venetia Stanley, socialite (upon marrying Edwin Samuel Montagu) [ [ New York Times book review] ]
* Elizabeth Taylor, actress (upon marrying Eddie Fisher) [In her book "Elizabeth Takes Off", Taylor writes, " [Conversion to Judaism] had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike [Todd] or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time." [] ]
* Nikki Ziering, model (upon marrying Ian Ziering) [ [,6115,1134569_7_0_,00.html Entertainment Weekly] ]

Ethnic Jews

* Reuben Greenberg, police chief of Charleston, South Carolina. [The movie Shalom y'all]
* David Weiss Former Presbyterian lay minister David Weiss (born Jewish) returned to Judaism and is now a successful writer living in Los Angeles.


* Abraham ben Abraham, Polish count, the famed "Ger Tzedek."
* Moses ben Abraham
* Aquila of Sinope, Bible translator [Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, art. "Aquila of Sinope"]
* Abraham of Augsburg
* Dany Boon, French comedian [ [ Le Figaro Magazine] which states "as though his conversion to Judaism in 2002 had paradoxically made him closer to his Pas-de-Calais roots".]
* Elizabeth Brewster, Canadian poet [ [ Arc Poetry review of "Jacob's Dream"] which states "Brewster is fascinated with her newly-adopted faith of Judaism—poems about Jewish holy days and heritage are sprinkled throughout"]
*Geraldine Brooks ,a Pulitzer Prize-winner, Australian-American journalist and author.
* Sarah Brown, actress [ [ Q&A with Sarah Brown] "Judaism, for me, is more a spiritual thing than a religion, but I feel that I have a Jewish soul. I didn't convert because of my marriage; I just always felt like there was a Jewish soul inside of me just dying to get out."]
* Eddie Butler, Israeli singer
* Nell Carter, singer and actress [ [ Chicago Sun Times via "Find Articles."] : Said of her conversion "I needed to know where God was, and I went back to the basics."]
* Jim Croce, singer/songwriter [Interview with Croce's Cousin]
* Sammy Davis, Jr., entertainer [ [ Jewish Virtual Library] ]
* William G. Dever, archaeologist. [Shanks, Hershel. "Losing Faith: How Scholarship Affects Scholars". "Biblical Archaeology Review", March/April 2007.]
* Luke Ford, journalist. [Luke Ford, XXX-Communicated: A Rebel Without a Shul. iUniverse, Inc., 2004. ISBN 0-595-66441-5]
* Aaron Freeman, journalist and comedian [ [ Aaron Freeman's website] ]
* Lord George Gordon, nobleman and politician [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
*Carolivia Herron [ [ Convert Authors ] ]
* Jon Juaristi, Spanish writer [ [ El Mundo] ]
* Felicity Kendal, actress [ [,,8127-2434811,00.html Times Online interview] : She says in the interview "I converted to Judaism in 1983. I am not a deeply religious person but it is a vital part of my life. It shapes my beliefs, and how I look at the world."]
* Natan Gamedze, former Protestant Christian, linguist and a Swazi royal, now a black Haredi rabbi. [ [ Natan Gamedze's website] ]
* Sacha Gironde, French philosopher and cognitive scientist.
* Carolivia Herron, writer of children's and adult literature. [ [ Her website] ]
* Jamaica Kincaid, author [ [ Beth Israel] ]
*Anthony Lake, American diplomat, political figure, and academic. He has been a foreign policy advisor to many Democratic U.S. presidents and presidential candidates, and served as National Security Advisor under U.S. President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997.
* Julius Lester, son of a Methodist minister and a children's author [ [ Julis Lester's Home Page] ] and [ [ Encyclopædia Britannica] ]
* Elliott Maddox, baseball player [ [ Baseball] ]
*Anne Meara (* 1929) American comedienne and actress, partner and wife of Jerry Stillercite news | last =O'Toole| first =Lesley| coauthors=| title =Ben Stiller : 'Doing comedy is scary'| pages=| publisher =The Independent| date =2006-12-22 | url =| accessdate =2006-12-22 ]
* Martha Nussbaum, philosopher [ [ The Nation] ]
* Bob Nystrom, former NHL player [ [] ]
* Mary Doria Russell, American author. [ [ Interview at Book Browse] "I am a Jew by choice and Italian by heritage. Shortly after I converted to Judaism, I came across a book by Alexander Stille called Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism."]
* Margo Stilley American film actress [Stilley - [,,2092-2309811,00.html] "...the former model, raised a Christian in Conway, S.C., recently announced that she is converting to Judaism. Even her rabbi is befuddled.... "The first thing that attracted me to Judaism was the undeniable family strength that has held Jewish people and culture together for 3,000 years. . . Jews, whether religious or not, know where they have come from and what they would wish for their future, and this certainty is based on fact, not faith.... "I will not be a perfect Jew, nor will Judaism make me perfect. But I know that Judaism will give me faith, support, knowledge, and history. I am not Jewish because I choose to be. I am Jewish because there is no other choice for me.""]
* Andre Tippett, football player. [ [ Profile at] ]
* Chris Van Allsburg, children's writer [ [ Jewish Bulletin of Northern California] :On being asked about Christmas, because of the Santa Claus related The Polar Express, he stated "We have a Jewish household. I converted when I married Lisa."]
* Mare Winningham, actress-singer [ [ Jewish Bulletin of Northern California] : "After Winningham observed her first Yom Kippur that year, she knew she had to convert, and did so March 3, 2003, accompanied by an entourage of friends and relatives."]

List of converts to Judaism not from Christianity

From Atheism or Agnosticism

* Christian B. Anfinsen, Nobel prize-winning chemist (Orthodox Judaism) [ [ NIH Profile] ]
* Suzy Menkes, fashion journalist (Jewish father) []
* Will Herberg former atheist and Marxist of Jewish ancestry who reverted to Judaism []
* Mare Winningham [ [ j. - Actress-singer Mare Winningham an unlikely Jewish soul ] ]
* Mary Doria Russell []

From Buddhism

*Yitzhak Fanger, a former Secular Jew, who was also a Buddhist Priest and Monk underwent the act of repentence and is now a Haredi rabbi. [ [ Arutz Sheva - ] ]

From Islam

* Reza Jabari - Iranian pilot. [ [ Iranian Muslim converts to Judaism] ]

From Paganism

* Aquila of Sinope (Acylas), from Greek paganism [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] "He was by birth a Gentile from Pontus, and is said by Epiphanius to have been a connection by marriage of the emperor Hadrian and to have been appointed by him about the year 128 to an office concerned with the rebuilding of Jerusalem as "Ælia Capitolina." At some unknown age he joined the Christians, but afterward left them and became a proselyte to Judaism."]
* Bithiah
* Bulan, king of the Khazars, from Khazar paganism [ [ Fordham University] ]
* Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses []
* Makeda, queen of Sheba [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
* Dhu Nuwas, king of Yemen [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] "If the contradictory and sometimes legendary accounts of the personality of Dhu Nuwas given by the Arabian writers can be trusted, he was not a Jew by birth, but embraced Judaism after ascending the throne, taking the name of "Joseph."]
* Obadiah the prophet [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] "Obadiah was a proselyte of Edomite origin."]
* Sh'maya, Sage and President of the Sanhedrin [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
* Avtalyon, Sage and Vice-President of the Sanhedrin [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
* Onkelos, Hebrew scholar and translator [ [ Jewish Encyclopedia] ]
* Ruth, great-grandmother of King David. [ [ BBC] ]
* Helena, queen of Adiabene. []
* Izates bar Monobaz, king of Adiabene. []
* Symacho, wife of Izates bar Monobaz. []
* Monobaz II, king of Adiabene. []
* Khazars, a semi-nomadic Turkic people from Central Asia (historical Khazaria), many of whom converted to Judaism en masse in the 8th and 9th Centuries CE. []
* Puah
* Shiphrah
* Obadiah
* Osenath
* Zipporah
* Yael

From Shinto

*Setzuso Kotsuji, son of a Shinto priest, and a professor in Japan

Converts who later left the faith or were expelled

*Polemon II, king of Clicia converted to marry the Jewish princess Berenice; later relapsed. [(Josephus, "Jewish Antiquities" xx. 7, § 3]
*Uriel da Costa, philosopher shunned for heresy. [ [ Columbia Encyclopedia] ]

Forced conversions

*2nd century leader John Hyrcanus forced the conversion of the Idumeans to Judaism. [
*Josephus, "Jewish Antiquities" xiii. 9, § 1; xiv. 4, § 4
*cite encyclopedia | title = Edom, Idumaea | encyclopedia = The Jewish Encyclopedia | volume = 3 | pages = 40-41 | author = Richard Gottheil, Max Seligsohn | publisher = Funk and Wagnalls | date = 1901-1906 | id = LCCN:16014703 | url = | accessdate = 2005-07-25
] That this conversion was forced, however, is disputed. [Smith, Morton. Studies in the Cult of Yahweh. Brill, 1996. p. 277]
*Jewish King Dhu Nuwas ordered the forceful conversion of the Christians (mainly Aksumites) in Najran in 525 A.D. Up to 20,000 Christians who refused to convert were subsequently massacred. [
*Muir William (Bengal Civil Service). Life of Mahomet Volume I. Smith, Elder, & Co., London, 1861.Section 5: Sketch of the Chief Nomad Tribes in the Centre of the Peninsula: Their conversion to Christianity in the 5th century.
*Anthony Ham, Andrew Madden Saudi Arabia. Lonely Planet, 2004. p. 139

ee also

* List of people by belief
* List of Jews
* List of converts to Christianity
* List of people who converted to Catholicism
* List of converts to Hinduism
* List of converts to Islam
* List of converts to Sikhism


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