I know we’re a progressive Jewish blog, and have made arguments in favour of welcoming Jews of different flavours before. But there’s got to be a limit, right? This is that limit.
The headline is slightly misleading (“Charles Taylor converts to Judaism“), but Charles Taylor, the former dictator of Liberia currently being held in prison, awaiting trial, in the Hague on charges of war crimes, has told his wife he is now a Jew.
He’s still a Christian, but he’s a Jew too. Because of that whole Jesus thing…
Q. So he’s now a practicing Jew?
A. He’s now a Jew. He’s practicing Judaism.
Q. Tells us about that? What led him to that?
A. Because of the difficulties, he always wanted to know God in a very different and special way. From a very small boy — because we talk about his childhood a whole lot — he asked himself questions about Christianity. Too many questions about why certain things happened. And why, this one and that one. Just too many question in Christianity and the whole thing about Christ because he does believe in Christ. When he got to the Hague, he got to know that he really, really wanted to be a Jew. Wanted to convert to Judaism. And that…
Q. Does that mean he has rejected Christianity then? Because that’s quite a radical departure.
A. No, no, no he hasn’t rejected Christianity. He has always been a Christian. He just decided to become a Jew. He wants to follow the two religions.
As Joshua writes, “Madonna [becoming a "Jew"] was bad enough, but this is really beyond the pale.” Seriously. What’s with celebrities taking on Judaism (or, faux Judaism – as in the case of Madonna)? Madonna’s version of Kabbalah is not what Jews study; Taylor’s version of Judaism isn’t Judaism. What part of his history as a mass murderer – ethnic cleansing style – made him think, “You know, my ethics and practices align with Christianity so well, I should also embrace Judaism?” You’d think after he failed at many of the ten commandments he would have quit there…