Oct. 19, 2020

Rabbi Karen R. Perolman on Ruth 1:1-18 – “The Bible on Becoming – and Being – a Jew”

Rabbi Karen Glazer Perolman, Senior Associate Rabbi at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, the Temple where Mark became a bar mitzvah in 1985, joins him on the podcast today. Karen received her Masters Degree in Hebrew Literature from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, and currently serves as Rabbi in Residence for the Rabbi Barry H. Greene Early Childhood Center and the B’nai Jeshurun Religious School. The passage she has chosen to discuss today is Ruth 1:1-18.

Karen begins the conversation by sharing her summary of the passage, the significance it holds for her, and the original biblical statement of conversion to Judaism found within it. Mark recounts his experiences with missionary doctors as they exemplify the notion of opening the door to conversion, and then he and Karen examine the importance of Jewish peoplehood and unity, the welcome that converts to Judaism receive, Mark’s perspective on the answer to the intermarriage question, and how this passage presents the constitution of conversion. As with all guests, Karen concludes the episode by detailing the lessons she has learned about humankind. As you listen in, you will discover the joyful and positive nature of Judaism as it is brought to vivid life through today’s examination of this beautiful passage and its powerful message regarding conversion, welcoming, and acceptance.

Episode Highlights:

  • · Karen’s summary of the passage and its significance for her
  • · The original biblical statement of conversion to Judaism
  • · Mark’s experience with missionary doctors
  • · Opening the door to conversion
  • · The importance of Jewish peoplehood and Jewish unity
  • · How converts to Judaism are welcomed
  • · The answer to the intermarriage question
  • · The constitution of conversion
  • · The lesson about humankind that Karen has learned


“Ruth is really important because she is the ancestor of King David.”

“It’s even thought that…somehow she is the ancestor of what will eventually redeem us all.”

“The short story is a Jewish genre.”

“Naomi was sort of her conversion teacher.”

“She becomes the first convert to Judaism.”

“You’re joining a people, but for the sake of something bigger, for the sake of the nation.”

“We need every Jew we can get to help make our world a better place and to also strengthen Yisra'el.”

“So many of these people end up converting because we make it an open environment.”

“There is great power in those who come into the community who are different, and it actually shows a lot about the community if they’re able to welcome and accept someone who’s different and make it an open place.”

“It’s very future-looking, it’s very hopeful, and actually, it’s very Jewish…we’re in this together.”

“You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.”

“When you choose love over fear, you almost always make the best choice.”

“There’s plenty in the world to be bothered by, but to be able to walk around with a sense of hopefulness, I mean, that’s about as Jewish as it gets…and that hope, I think, is what we need more than ever in this world.”

Ruth 1:1-18 - https://www.sefaria.org/Ruth.1.1-18?lang=en&with=all&lang2=en


The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: http://therabbishusband.com/

Mark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/markgerson?lang=en

For More Information About African Mission Healthcare and to Donate visit: https://africanmissionhealthcare.org/donation/gerson-ubs-matching/