Rabbi at new synagogue speaks of converts to Judaism
BY SERGIO CARMONA.
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
There's a new rabbi in town.
Origininally featured in the L'Chaim section of The Jewish Journal July 10, 2007
Rabbi Celso Cukierkorn, who moved to Miami-Dade County in May and has started Adat Achim Synagogue in Sunny Isles, knows a great deal about those who convert to Judaism. Since his rabbinic career started more than a decade ago, Cukierkorn, 37, has converted many of those people himself - in Europe, South America and China. Welcoming new people as Jews is important to him.
"Today, we have as many Jews in the world as there were the day the Americans liberated the concentration camps," he said. "Next generation, we will have negative growth, and we're going to have less Jews in the world. Somebody has got to do something about it. I believe that as a leader of Jewish people, we should put them on the red carpet; we should welcome those people who are legitimately interested in becoming Jewish. It must be offered
Cukierkorn was born in Brazil and comes from a rabbinical family that goes back 700 years. He is a member of the rabbinical cabinet of United Jewish Appeal. His conversion process involves an online course for people who are willing to be Jewish and can convert anyone from any part of the world through online study and a final exam.
"This course gives people the tools to empower themselves to establish Jewish identity in a way that they can work on their own time, because today's environment and situation regarding our : mobility, regarding our schedule and other priorities we have in our lives, sometimes would not allow many people to be in a regular conversion to
Judaism course," he said.
Cukierkorn. currently has 30-40 students from South Florida. One of those students, Tatiana Suarez, who resides in Miami-Dade County, is. grateful for the course's flexibility and the learning opportunity provided.
"Rabbi Cukierkorn has a very nice method about learning Judaism;" said Suarez. "He's critical. He can get deeper. If you don't have time, he gives flexibility to his students. The" rabbi gives you everything you need to know and he guides you very well through the course."
Cukierkorn enjoys working with students who posses the maturity to learn to become a Jew.
"I think that the very beauty of people coming
into Judaism is they have an adult mind and that they're going to 'experience things for the first time already with a mature mind," he, said.
Cukierkorn is not only impressed with his students' maturity, but impressed with their dedication, as well.
"Most of the people I work with, they could choose any religion, and for them becoming Jewish and joining the greater Jewish family is the most important thing in their life," he said. 'as a congregational rabbi, I have never seen another group 'that opens so much enthusiasm in Judaism than people converting; and usually they make wonderful Jews."
Cukierkorn has also provided close guidance to his students. One is Larry Hudson, a former student who became a
Jew in 2002.
"He's provided close guidance to our family here in Florida," Hudson said. "He is very astute in the field of Judaism, and he's provided guidance to individuals like ourselves in converting to Judaism."
Cukierkorn is proud to have an impact on his students' lives.
"From all of my rabbinic duties, converting people gives me the greatest pleasure," he said. "I have converted people from New Zealand to Argentina, and having a small part in their lives is the greatest reward I have in my
Cukierkorn's guidelines, expectations and requirements. for his course are available at http://www.convertingtojudaism.com. He can be reached at 305-510-8111.