Two non-Jews took vows in Jerusalem this week, and judges in the new court of Jewish law known as the "Sanhedrin" deemed them full-fledged Noahides.
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The Seven Laws of Noah, often referred to as the Noahide Laws, are a set of seven moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by G-d to the biblical Noah as a binding set of laws for all mankind. According to Judaism, any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as a Righteous Gentile and is assured of a place in the world to come, the Jewish concept of heaven.
Adherents, after accepting upon themselves the Torah of Moses as truth, are often called "Bnei Noah" (Children of Noah) or "Noahides."
A delegation of rabbis from the nascent Sanhedrin, a Jewish legal court struggling for legitimacy in the Jewish world, heard and confirmed the vows, recited by a teenaged male and a young woman. It was made clear that this is not necessarily a step towards full conversion to Judaism, and that Judaism fully recognizes the role of non-Jews who are loyal to the Torah.
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute told the newly-declared Noahides, "This is a new beginning for you, because you have gone from being a generic 'son of Noah' to being a Righteous Gentile, with a place in the World to Come. You have chosen this path not because you simply believe it is moral or the right thing to do, but because it was revealed by G-d to Moses at Mt. Sinai."
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Several "veteran" Noahides were on hand to offer moral support during the ceremony. One man praised the rabbis, saying, "Many of us left communities that we grew up in and were used to, to take a journey that was often lonely and hard, and we didn't know where we were going. These rabbis are giving us a completion of part of our journey, giving us a warm welcome along an unfamiliar route."
The ceremony was timely, in that the portion of Noah and the pre-Torah commandments he was given after the Flood will be read aloud this Sabbath in synagogues all around the world.
Though the Torah contains 613 positive and negative commandments (many of which do not apply when the Holy Temple is not extant), non-Jews are required to observe only seven: They must not murder, worship false gods, engage in sexual immorality, steal, eat limbs of live animals, or blaspheme, and they must institutionalize a system of courts and justice.
Present at the ceremony were several Arabs who say that up to 85% of Arabs in Israel are actually of Jewish ancestry, and who believe that they should return to Judaism. They refused to be identified or photographed; "I don't want to be the first one to be killed [by my Moslem neighbors] for returning to Judaism," one said.