More Wartime Conversions

There was a big uproar the last time I wrote about conversions in Iraq, but this time there is a bit of good news on the subject.

The Chicago Tribune ran a story recently about how troops tend to find religion in times of war. Go figure!

For many servicemen and women, duty in Iraq stirs intense spiritual experiences, often drawing them toward a deeper faith but sometimes challenging strongly held religious beliefs.

The part that got my attention, was this little tidbit about a recent convert to Judaism:

Lance Cpl. Jordan Parlier, 21, of Kenosha, Wis., said that during the 2003 push into Baghdad, he began seeking religion amid the devastation of war. He found answers from a Jewish friend a few months later in Najaf. Raised as a Christian, Parlier has converted to the Jewish faith.

Now at the massive Al Asad air base near the end of his second deployment to Iraq, Parlier has become the lay Jewish leader for his battalion. Though he has yet to have his bar mitzvah, his tours in Iraq have deepened his religious convictions, and he treasures his religious bond with other Jews.

“You kind of look within and you look for a higher authority that’s going to help you get through,” he said. “It almost feels like an emancipation.”

I don’t know the details of his conversion or his formal status as a lay leader, but I hope to find out more and report about it here.

Even though we have lost some, it’s reassuring to know that we’ve gained a few too!