New Bulgarian Conversion Course Offering a Pathway to ‘Official’ Judaism

As a child, Gabrielle Pavlova pored over pictures of her Jewish paternal grandmother, who died decades before Pavlova was born.

The family had no other tie to Judaism, and Pavlova was fascinated. She delved into her Jewish heritage, read books and, ultimately, wrote her master’s thesis on Polish Jewish literature. Her Jewish roots, she says, were “very close to my heart and soul.”

But technically, Pavlova’s not Jewish, even according to the Reform movement in Europe, where patrilineal descent is not accepted.

At 20, Pavlova asked Bulgaria’s chief rabbi if she could convert. He said there was no such program and she should just go home and study on her own.


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