Goodbye, Columbus : And Five Short Stories

Roth's Conversion Tale: “Promise me you’ll never hit anybody about God” College

Even for those who are not especially religious, speaking out against religious oppression can become a moral necessity. “The Conversion of the Jews” by Philip Roth is a short story about Oscar “Ozzie” Freedman who learns about the Jewish religion in Hebrew school from his partisan of a teacher, Rabbi Marvin Binder; this teacher makes Ozzie question the Jewish religion during the class discussions. The narration even explains that “consequently when free-discussion time rolled around none of the students felt too free” (685). Ozzie has numerous issues with the ethical dilemmas brought up by the rabbi, and he does not want to be forced into a religion he doesn’t understand, especially if he cannot freely ask questions about it. Ozzie Freedman’s desire to ask questions and speak freely about his religious confusions is in conflict with Rabbi Marvin Binder’s closed-mindedness and religious intolerance regarding the Jewish religion, leading Ozzie to be physically and psychologically harmed numerous times.

At the beginning of the story, Ozzie expresses how he didn’t bring up the issue of Jesus Christ in class, but instead Rabbi Binder does, this is the first instance that proves that Ozzie seldom brought up arguments in class. Ozzie...

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