As you are aware, Judaism does not actively seek converts. In fact, our halakhic tradition mandates that we discourage would-be converts by pointing out to them the great responsibility, and often difficulties, of being Jewish. Judaism posits that all non-Jews can be righteous and can share in the World-to-Come by keeping the Seven Noahide Laws, so we sincerely ask you to think long and hard before you begin the conversion course. If, however, a potential convert is able to concretely show his or her sincerity and desire to convert out of love for Judaism, we invite the potential convert to begin a course of study that will ultimately lead to conversion.
Our course of study and action requires a number of tasks to be fulfilled. After our initial discussion/s and acceptance of your application, we expect you to attend our three weekly classes, which focus upon learning both the fundamentals and day to day details of Judaism (see curriculum). Unless there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. you have already been involved in an intense course of study and practice), we expect that you attend these classes for at least one year. Beyond the classes, we expect that you have strong familiarity with the topics delineated in the book list. In conjunction with this reading, we encourage you to attend other relevant classes on Judaism and/or study with a more knowledgeable partner. If you are interested in a tutor, please let us know.
While study is crucial for its own sake in learning about Judaism, it will also serve as a basis to help you begin your practice of Judaism. Over your course of study, we expect you to gradually begin to live a Jewish lifestyle, from keeping kosher, to attending shul to observing Shabbat and the chagim, among many other practices. To help in that process, we will sponsor occasional shabbatonim (special Shabbat celebrations), and give you the opportunity to spend Shabbat with Jewish families. We also expect that you will develop relationships with other rabbis, teachers and Jewish community members, especially if you do not live in a strong Jewish neighborhood. This will not only enhance your education, but ensure that you widen your circle within the Jewish community. We also strongly encourage you to visit Israel during the course of your conversion process, and to spend time there studying in a yeshiva or seminary either before or after your conversion.
Perhaps the most oft-asked question is, “How long will it take”? There is no one answer for this; it really depends upon the seriousness of the individual. While there is much material to master, we don’t expect you to become a Talmudic scholar. You must, however, undertake to live an observant lifestyle by committing to keep all the mitzvot, and pledging to become part of the Jewish community through our ups and downs. We also expect you to live in a community which will facilitate your observance.
From Ruth through Onkelos and beyond, converts have had a tremendously positive impact upon Judaism. The journey to Judaism can be exhilarating, but only if you are ready to transform your lifestyle and be prepared for many challenges along the way. If you truly feel that you are ready to follow in the path of these illustrious Jews, it will be our great honor to welcome you to our program.