Basic Requirements for Jewish Conversion
While each person's journey towards Judaism is organic and individual, there are some basic requirements which I will outline below. These requirements attempt to ensure that someone who eventually chooses Judaism can make an informed, healthy, and whole commitment to Jewish life and the Jewish people. To this end, the prospective Jew must have mastered knowledge of basic Jewish ideas and practices, participated in some central Jewish experiences and explored his/her attitudes, beliefs and feelings as they relate to Judaism.
More specifically, the following list outlines the required tasks:
Mastery of basic Jewish ideas and practices is largely accomplished through
participation in a course entitled, Introduction to Judaism. Specific details
about the course will be given separately. Where the prospective Jew is part
of an existing or anticipated marital relationship, the significant other
should also take the course. Successful completion of the course is followed
by completing an open book exam. Completion of the exam is a review of the
material covered and demonstrates understanding and mastery of the basic
The requirement to take part in central Jewish experiences such as community
gatherings, regular worship, life cycle and holiday observances fulfills
several goals. For the prospective Jew, these experiences provide encounters
with actual Jewish living that should inform any decision to become Jewish.
They also help the prospective Jew to begin building Jewish memories and
a usable Jewish past. That is to say, this growing reservoir of Jewish
experiences will eventually form the foundation for a secure Jewish identity.
The requirement to explore attitudes, beliefs, and feelings will be addressed
through a series of regular discussions that we will schedule. These meetings
will include opportunities for addressing unanswered questions from the course,
some study of traditional Jewish sources that frame the process of becoming
Jewish and a general opportunity for us to discuss the experience as it unfolds
in all its complexity and all its excitement. Once again, the "significant
other should take part in most of these meetings.
We will discuss the details of the actual conversion rituals at a later date.
For now, I'd just like to include a set of questions that we ask in one of
those rituals. If you choose to become Jewish, you'll need to be able to
answer "yes to all these questions. I suggest you take them out and
think about them at several points during the coming months. They may serve
as a helpful barometer for you.
Do you choose to enter the eternal covenant between God and the people Israel
and to become a Jew of your own free will?
Do you accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and
Do you pledge your loyalty to Judaism and to the Jewish people under all
Do you commit yourself to the pursuit of Torah and Jewish knowledge?
If you should be blessed with children, do you promise to raise them as Jews?
My involvement with people who want to become Jewish has been a great privilege and one of the most fulfilling aspects of my rabbinate. I am very much looking forward to the journey on which we are about to embark together. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at any point during the process. That's why I am here.
Jewish Conversion - A historical perspective from Ruth to the kingdom of the Khazars.
Reasons for Jewish Conversion - People convert to Judaism for many reasons.