The Introduction to Judaism Program
Finding a Compatible Conservative Synagogue and a Sponsoring Rabbi
Judaism is a religious way of life which places great emphasis on community, worship and study. Consequently, an inviting Conservative synagogue is essential to a successful conversion. In the New York Metropolitan Area, one has a wide range of Conservative synagogues from which to choose.
All things being equal, it makes most sense to join the congregation which is within walking distance. More important than proximity, however, is your feeling of compatibility with the synagogue and its rabbi who will become your sponsor. Ideally, the rabbi should be accessible to you and you should seek to meet with him/her four to six times during your period of study. The rabbi should be an important source of guidance, inspiration and learning for you.
Different people will be attracted by various aspects of congregational life. For most, egalitarianism is an essential desideratum and most Conservative congregations now accord women equal rights with men. For some, the traditional combination of mixed seating with limited participation for women is preferable. Such congregations are still found in some numbers in the New York area.
Successful integration into congregational life is best achieved when the synagogue has an active membership of people of all ages. It is especially important that the congregation provides you with the possibility of finding peers, people similar to you in age and education, who have some interest in Jewish growth and with whom you can form friendships. Most people find informality and extensive participation in the service to be attractive; some prefer a more formal, stylized service.
In any case, a synagogue with a decent number of interested and welcoming regular worshippers who form a lively community will prove most important in introducing you to Judaism and Jewish life and in strengthening and furthering your commitment.
The Center will assist you in providing names of synagogues for you to explore. You will need to attend synagogue regularly- at least three times a month. Generally, this should be on Shabbat morning, the main service of the Jewish week. The Friday night service is an acceptable alternative.
Synagogal participation must lead to a real and continuing relationship with the organized Jewish community. Upon your conversion, you will be expected to maintain your pattern of synagogue attendance and to join the synagogue you1ve been attending. You will need to commit to maintaining a synagogue affiliation wherever you live throughout your life.
Our hope is that synagogue life will prove to be a spur to your continued spiritual, intellectual and emotional growth as a Jew. One day you might become your synagogue's president or rabbi!
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