A couple of years ago, former Liberian President and current war crimes indictee Charles Taylor converted to Judaism. Somehow I missed this astounding fact. From the perspective of Jews, could there be a less appealing candidate for conversion? It is likely that Taylor will be convicted in the next month for his responsibility for the gruesome deaths of over 50,000 people in Sierra Leone. The manner of killing and torture – including eating people alive and amputating thousands of childrens’ hands and feet – would make the average Nazi squirm.
This week marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish high holidays. I hope it is some satisfaction that if Taylor is observing Rosh Hashanah in Scheveningen Prison where he awaits judgment, he does so in the very same prison in The Netherlands that Dutch Jews were detained by occupying Germans in WWII before being shipped off to death camps. But I think it also makes sense that Taylor should be given a steady diet of gefilte fish during the holidays. And I don’t mean some Williams Sonoma recipe with cilantro and capers that may actually be palatable, I’m talking the old school, Mannischewitz, jellified in the jar variety. Now that would be justice.