Conversion

Conversion History: Orthodox and Conservative Understandings

Orthodoxy maintains a strict legal approach to conversion, while Conservative Judaism has responded pragmatically rather than ideologically.

Working With Converts

Excerpts from the Reform Movement's Guidelines for Working with Prospective Converts

A Reform View of What Acceptance Means

Excerpts from June 2001 Conference

Understanding One’s Motivation to Convert to Judaism

Conversion requires such a big life change that the motivations must be genuine and psychologically well grounded.

Welcoming the Convert into the Family of Israel

Israel's responsibilities toward converts begin with equal protection, but ultimately require the full integration of the convert into the family of Israel.

The Covenant of Circumcision

Male converts to Judaism are traditionally required to undergo circumcision or, if already circumcised, a ritual removal of a single drop of blood.

A Convert Cannot Reject Jewish Law

This legal opinion from the Masorti (Conservative) movement in Israel takes the lenient opinion that a convert should not explicitly reject any Jewish law.

Leniency Within the Orthodox Movement

Rabbi Uziel holds that as long as the judges first attempt to break off a projected marriage to a non-Jew, they are obligated to convert the non-Jew, even if the motivation is marriage.

The Conversion Process and the Covenant

For the Israelites, acceptance of the covenant was twofold: identification with the people through circumcision in Egypt and acceptance of God at Sinai.

Acceptance of the Yoke of the Commandments

Kabbalat ol ha-mitzvot (acceptance of the commandments) combines faith and action with an intent to evolve as a practicing Jew.

Preparing for the Mikveh

Plan ahead to enhance the spirituality of the immersion experience; a mikveh or mikvah, a ritual bath, tends more toward the functional than the spiritual.

Choosing a Hebrew Name

As with a literal newborn, the convert as a spiritual newborn selects a Hebrew name and adopts Abraham and Sarah as spiritual parents.