Ethnic background and antecedents of religious conversion among Israeli Jewish outpatients Academic Article uri icon


  • This study explored the association of ethnocultural background (Ashkenazi vs Sephardi origin) with antecedents of religious conversion among Israeli Jewish penitents who applied for psychiatric help in an outpatient clinic. A basic assumption underlying the comparison was that Sephardic Jews in Israel are more inclined toward Jewish tradition and collectivistic than Ashkenazim. The interview data indicated that for both groups emotional factors were more dominant in the conversion process than cognitive ones; however, cognitive factors were more strongly present in the conversion process of the Ashkenazim whose prepenitence cultural orientation had been more secularized and individualistic. In both groups a high prevalence of problematic relations with the father (but not with the mother) during childhood was noticed. Over-all, conversion tended to be gradual rather than abrupt and devoid of mystical experiences.

publication date

  • January 1, 1997