THE PROCESS OF CONVERSION TO JUDAISM
Conversion to Judaism involves significant changes to one’s life and lifestyle. Judaism governs every action that a person undertakes, from the moment he or she gets up in the morning until the moment he or she retires at night. Judaism strives to impress upon us that we live in the presence of G-d, and that all our activities should be viewed with this perspective.
The decision to convert to Judaism, to embrace all of its laws and customs, will affect virtually every aspect of your life: where you live, what and where you eat, where and how you socialize, the relationships you will have with family members, where your children will go to school and camp, what kind of work you do and the expectations of the workplace in terms of work hours, travel, and socializing.
It is a commitment that cannot be made without extensive thought, learning and preparation. The process of conversion to Judaism is a lengthy one. Before a beit din (rabbinic court) will approve the conversion, its members must be positive that you are fully knowledgeable and committed to observing all of the laws and precepts of Judaism, that you are fully integrated into the Jewish way of life and are comfortable in the Jewish community – that you will be able to live a full, happy and productive life as a Jew.
Our batei din, in conjunction with your “sponsoring rabbi”s, are prepared to guide you through the process and offer the assistance necessary in transitioning to this new lifestyle. Every convert discovers his or her own path to Judaism based on his or her specific life experiences and can expect to be treated with the appropriate sensitivity.
Frequently Asked Questions about Orthodox Conversion
What is the first step towards conversion?
A potential candidate must find a Sponsoring Rabbi, who will serve as the liaison to and make the initial contact with the regional beit din. Any Orthodox rabbi may serve as a Sponsoring Rabbi. A Sponsoring Rabbi may only sponsor someone who lives in his own community, with whom he is personally familiar, and whom he is confident in recommending as a candidate. If a potential candidate does not live in an Orthodox community he or she must move in to one as part of the conversion process. The respective batei din and the central office are available to assist in locating sponsoring rabbis.
Why must a candidate for conversion live in an Orthodox community?
While moving may involve financial and other hardships, a candidate for conversion must realize that it is not possible to learn and absorb Judaism and Torah living at a distance. Jewish observance must be experienced on a daily basis, especially on Shabbat and holidays. Living in an Orthodox community allows one to socialize with other Jews, walk to synagogue on Shabbat, and share in community activities on a regular basis.
Transient candidates (for example, college students or highly mobile professionals) who cannot live in a standard Orthodox community must at least have ongoing, reasonable access to the institutions of Orthodox life and live within walking distance to an Orthodox minyan that meets regularly each Shabbat and Yom Tov. The candidate must demonstrate a strong commitment to conducting his or her life so as to maintain access to those institutions for the rest of his or her life.