Choosing a Jewish Life: A Handbook for People Converting to Judaism and for Their Family and Friends by Anita DiamantMarried to a convert herself, Anita Diamant provides advice and information that can transform the act of conversion into an extraordinary journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
Here you will learn how to choose a rabbi, a synagogue, a denomination, a Hebrew name; how to handle the difficulty of putting aside Christmas; what happens at the mikvah (ritual bath) or at a hatafat dam brit (circumcision ritual for those already circumcised); how to find your footing in a new spiritual family that is not always well prepared to receive you; and how not to lose your bonds to your family of origin. Diamant anticipates all the questions, doubts, and concerns, and provides a comprehensive explanation of the rules and rituals of conversion.
Conversion to Judaism: denomination by denomination
What should I expect? What will the process look like? The most important thing is that when you convert you will be Jewish. This is something that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. It is important to note that conversion to Judaism is a one-way street. When looking for a beit din to do your conversion, do your homework, and make sure the rabbis are indeed Torah-observant Orthodox and recognized as such by others.
When you go to a doctor, you initially have to complete and sign a plethora of forms. And then you must sign a form acknowledging that you received full disclosure. Because, even with the safest medical procedure and the most skillful doctor, unpredictable things theoretically could go wrong. In addition to being a rabbi and an attorney, I have been an adjunct professor of law at two major law schools these past fourteen years. In one of my courses, the curriculum includes teaching new-client intake. I teach my students that they always must fully disclose to prospective new clients the billing arrangements and what costs the client might encounter in the forthcoming litigation.
Note that the members of the Bet Din must be acceptable witnesses. According to Orthodox Jewish law, a witness must scrupulously observe all the laws, particularly Shabbat. From an Orthodox standpoint, therefore, any Jew who does not follow Orthodox standards of practice — rabbi or not — would not be qualified to sit on a Beit Din. The Reform movement requires that the potential convert agree to observe the commandments according to Reform standards and participate publicly in the community, but they do not require mikvah or mila. The Reform movement recommends that the potential convert be made aware of mikvah and mila , and that their conversion would be unacceptable to Orthodox Jews, but such notification is not required. Potential converts should be aware that, depending on the movement that performs the conversion, other movements may or may not recognize their conversion. For example, Orthodox movements do not recognize all Reform conversions, most Conservative conversions and even some Orthodox conversions.
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Few issues epitomize the tensions among the different branches of Judaism as much as conversion. That eruption often occurs when the topic of conversion arises. Traditional Judaism holds that a Jew is anyone born to a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism in a halakhic manner [that is, according to Jewish law].
Is it necessary to be conversant in the Hebrew tongue in order to be accepted into the Jewish community via conversion? That is, can I convert without learning Hebrew? Rabbi Robert Orkand: Judaism welcomes those wishing to convert, and a great deal of information about Judaism is now available on the Internet, making it a wonderful way to begin l. I have been attracted to Judaism ever since I first began to learn about it, and have reason to believe that my family was originally Jewish. What would be the steps for me to take to return to Judaism? My husband and I are in the process of adopting an African American baby boy. We had him circumcised by a doctor -- as he was already 2 months old, my husband was concerned about safety.
Many liberal rabbis will perform a conversion for the sake of an upcoming marriage, reasoning that exposure to Judaism in the context of an intimate relationship is likely to inspire such a convert to eventually accept Judaism for its own sake. Even the process of conversion is a matter of contention among the movements. Whereas traditional rabbis expect the candidate to undergo all rabbinically prescribed rituals, liberal rabbis may use rituals more selectively although circumcision is a nearly universal requirement. Even within certain movements, there are often differences from one country to another, so if you are expecting to relocate to another country, you may want to make sure your conversion meets the standards of the Jewish community there. It is also wise to ensure that the rabbi or institution with which you are studying is widely respected and that other rabbis and institutions recognize their conversions. Conversion candidates are urged to learn as much as possible about Jewish religion and culture, to seek out a variety of Jewish experiences, and to talk to a rabbi early in the process. Many people start by enrolling in Introduction to Judaism or Judaism classes, which are frequently offered at synagogues, Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions.