Conversion to Judaism is a serious process. It requires the ability to sever without guilt any link to one's past religion. It requires the steadfast courage to accept Judaism despite the awareness of the role of anti-Semitism in Western history. While every individual's synthesis of Jewish values and practices will be unique, one who elects Judaism must affirm its basic beliefs, must live its traditional patterns, and must identify with the dreams and destiny of the Jewish people.
The Center for Conversion to Judaism is an institute which offers a variety of programs and courses to introduce both Jews and non-Jews to Jewish learning and living. With locations in Manhattan and Northern New Jersey, the Center provides classes and experiences which help participants determine whether Judaism is appropriate for them.
In 36 sessions over 12 months, we cover the material described and more. We ask that you purchase the Conservative prayer book, Siddur Sim Shalom and the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, published by the Jewish Publication Society. These are the basic books which every Jewish home should possess. You will be asked to read at least one book in each of the following areas: Jewish thought, Jewish history and Jewish practice. We do hope that you will read the starred volumes or suggested alternatives to them. Since Judaism is a religion which greatly respects learning, the sky's the limit in what you choose to read. We have listed certain important books to supplement your basic reading. Center teachers are always delighted to suggest books on matters of special interest to you.
Center for Conversion
Through individualized and small group programs, students are introduced to the basic beliefs and values of Judaism, Jewish practices in home and synagogue, the rites of the life and year cycles, Jewish history and enough Hebrew to be able to read a prayer book with other congregants. In this personalized setting, students are encouraged to raise questions. and discuss doubts and concerns as they explore, in a warm and open atmosphere, Judaism's possible meaning for their lives.
The Center provides the educational background for those seeking to learn about Judaism. Should students then desire conversion, they are expected to incorporate Jewish religious practices into their way of life accept the Jewish belief and value system and identify with the Jewish people.
During this time, students are integrated into particular synagogue communities of their choice. Each student is expected to meet regularly with his or her community rabbi who becomes the sponsor of the candidate for conversion. A conversion in accordance with Jewish law is arranged when the candidate, the sponsoring rabbi and the mentor feel that an appropriate state of Jewish growth and commitment has been attained.
In addition to courses, the Center provides a wide range of Jewish religious and cultural experiences for participants. These include weekend retreats, Shabbat and holiday workshops and meals, courses in Hebrew and synagogue skills and tours of sites of Jewish interest. Support groups for those contemplating conversion. for those who have actually converted and for their partners are an important feature of the Center's program. The participants in these support groups have a chance to deal with some of the difficult human issues of acceptance and non-acceptance which they experience or perceive as they attempt to build positive Jewish identities.