If you’re planning to convert to Judaism, at some point in the conversion process you’ll need to to find a sponsoring rabbi. This is the rabbi that ensures that the convert is acquiring the necessary knowledge and experience to convert to Judaism and will present the convert to the Beit Din (religious court) for approval. The rabbi also serves as a mentor to the convert both before and after conversion, addressing their questions and concerns and serving as a guide as the convert integrates into Jewish life.
In general, any rabbi can serve as a sponsoring rabbi. Some denominations have particular standards for who can serve on the panel that issues the final approval and acceptance of a conversion candidate, but there are no comparable restrictions on who can act as a sponsor. When selecting a rabbi to guide you through your conversion process, it makes sense to choose a rabbi who is local and therefore easy to schedule in-person meetings with, whose synagogue and community is nearby and easily accessible, and with whom one feels an easy rapport and identification.
The simplest way to locate a sponsoring rabbi is to find a synagogue you feel at home in and reach out to the congregational rabbi there. The major Jewish denominations all maintain online directories of their affiliated communities.
Once you’ve identified a rabbi whom you think might be a good fit for you, write him or her or call to schedule an appointment.
If you can’t easily find a synagogue in your area with a rabbi that you like, you can also explore programs that are specifically geared toward converts to Judaism. The Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis, provides a state-by-state guide to conversion programs administered by their members. This is a good place to start if you are thinking of converting under the auspices of the Conservative movement.
For Orthodox conversion candidates, the Network of Regional Rabbinical Courts offers individual support for people with questions about conversion to Judaism. Click here to ask a question or get help finding a sponsoring rabbi.
For Reform candidates, a guide to introductory Judaism courses can be found here.
If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, the website Becoming Jewish publishes a list of regional rabbis that previous converts to Judaism have enjoyed working with.
Have you used another resource to find a rabbi to support you during conversion? Share your suggestions in the comments on this page.
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