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Ashalah's avatar

Is it difficult to convert to Judaism.

Asked by Ashalah (402 points ) May 21st, 2009 from iPhone

I have been researching religions for years now trying to find one that made sense. I have read alot about Judaism. And I believe it may be the one. How difficult is it to convert? What are the steps?

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14 Answers

Darwin's avatar

It is difficult in that you need to learn a great deal and also convince the rabbi you are truly meant to be a Jew. Jews do not actively convert, so rabbis will try to discourage you. After you have learned everything you can about Judaism and being a Jew and talked to your family about it you need to do is approach a rabbi. I suggest you find someone from a Reform temple as they will be the most liberal. Then it will still take a year at least before you can formally convert.

This is what you probably should do:

“1. Research Jewish laws, history and customs, and talk to Jews about their religion. Figure out what you are getting into, and determine why you want to do it. Be aware that Judaism is a major commitment which will affect every part of your life, will last as long as you live, and may even transfer to your children. Judaism is based on the Ten commandments and the Thirteen principles, they should be your first step and the foundation of your Jewish faith.

2. Speak with your family about your intention to convert. This can often be a touchy subject among families, so be sure to explain your reasoning and desire to become Jewish. Make sure that you are comfortable with your decision to leave your former religion, if you had one.

3. If you are converting because of marriage, speak with your future husband/wife to determine the best course of action, including what denomination you will join. There are three main branches, all with differing levels of observance and ritual. Generally speaking, from most to least traditional, these are: a) Orthodox, b) Conservative – called ‘Reform’ or ‘Masorti’ in Europe, and c) Reform – called ‘Progressive’ or ‘Liberal’ in Europe.

4. Once you feel that you have sufficient reason to convert, make an appointment with a Rabbi to discuss the process. Be prepared for the rabbi to try to dissuade you, or turn you away. Many rabbis consider this part of their job. The goal is not to prevent honest seekers from converting, it is to test the individual’s commitment, and make sure that becoming a Jew is truly what he or she wants. If you are persistent, show that you know what you’re getting into and are still committed to doing it, the rabbi may eventually decide to start you on the path to conversion.

5. Unlike in many religions, converting to Judaism is not fast or easy. You will need to spend at least a year studying (many organizations offer night classes) and living a Jewish life before your conversion is finalized. Your studies will cover the basics of Jewish history and culture, and you will also receive some instruction in the Hebrew language.

6. At the end of your studies, you will take a test to determine how much you’ve learned. You will also be questioned before a Jewish court (called a Beit Din, consisting of three authorities) about adherence to the Halacha, as part of the conversion proceedings.

7. If you have passed all these steps, a conversion ceremony will be scheduled. It will involve a ritual bath (full-body immersion in a Mikveh), and if you’re an uncircumcised male, you will also need to be circumcised. In the cases where the man has already been circumcised, creating a small drop of blood is sufficient.

8. Children born prior to the end of conversion do not become Jews if their parent converts. If they want to be Jewish, they will have to go through conversion themselves after they reach the age of 13. Children born to a Jewish woman AFTER she has converted are Jewish automatically.”

You might consider becoming a Unitarian instead. It is much easier.

Facade's avatar

why should this person consider something else because it is easier?

Darwin's avatar

Because if they think converting to Judaism is too hard, then they aren’t meant to be a Jew

Ashalah's avatar

Thanks for the answers. I understand it is very difficult, but I can do it. I want to do it. I have talked with my family who are baptists. They weren’t too thrilled. I appreciate the help.

Ashalah's avatar

@Darwin. Are you Jewish?

Darwin's avatar

I am not. Parts of my family are, some of my ancestors were, and many of my friends are. My grandfather spoke Yiddish among other languages.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

It’s not always as hard as people perceive it to be. First do some research on whether you would feel most comfortable as a Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox Jew. This will make a huge difference in the difficulty, time, and level of energy required to convert, as well as the type of life you would lead after your conversion and how similar or different it would be from your life now. It’s basically increasing difficulty from least hard to hardest in the order I’ve mentioned (reform, conservative, orthodox).

You can sit down with a reform rabbi and explain to them why you want to be Jewish, and get set up in a conversion class ranging from 10 weeks to 6 months, and at the end, if you do everything you’re supposed to, you’ll be accepted, you’ll have a ceremony, and you’ll be Jewish.

Becoming a conservative Jew is basically the same process, but you’ll encounter more challenges and obstacles along each step of the way.

Becoming an orthodox Jew if you’re not Jewish at all is close to impossible. It can be done, but I don’t recommend it.

To add my two cents to Darwin’s answer, #6 and #7, the Beit Din and the Mikvah are mandatory in the Orthodox tradition, in conservative tradition ithe mikvah is probable, but the beit din is highly improbable, and in reform you definitely wouldn’t have anything to do with the beit din. You could visit a mikvah if you wanted to, but it wouldn’t be required. It can be a very cathartic and rewarding experience though.

On the whole, I think it’s definitely worth the trouble to convert to Judaism. I’m a little biased toward it though, since I am a Jew. :-)

Ashalah's avatar

thanks alot chica. You were very helpful.

Blondesjon's avatar

Why is it necessary to label yourself religiously? Does it mean you can’t get the job you want in Heaven because you don’t have the right references?

Ashalah's avatar

I don’t neccessarily “need” the label. It’s more for me. I have never been religious. Most religions just seemed kind of hokey, this one seems to make sense to me. It’s my personal choice.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Completing a true conversion course is also a really special experience, because in it a person has such opportunities to examine themself spiritually and figure out what’s important to them. It gives a person a structured opportunity to figure out what their beliefs are and connect to a higher power in a new way.

In the reform tradition, conversion classes follow a very similar process to that of confirmation, which we do in high school, which was a wonderful experience for me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

@Ashalah, It is a major decision, and takes years to convert. It seems as though you’ve thought it over and it’s something you really want to do, and I applaud you for it. Congratulations, and welcome to the family! If you need any help along the way, feel free to ask me (I’m Jewish by birth, but know quite a lot about the conversion process).

nissan's avatar

some parts are difficult and some parts are not. its just like being a Jew. there are good times and there are bad times. i’m close to finishing my conversion, and i love it! the best experience ever!

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