There are many reasons people consider conversion to Judaism. Some seeking sacred meaning in their lives may find that Judaism speaks to their need for spiritual connection and community. For others, interreligious marriages spark curiosity and a desire in the non-Jewish partners to share the religion of their spouse. Whatever the reason contact us with any questions you many have!
Welcoming Interfaith Couples and Families
Most Reform and Reconstructionist congregations, as well as some Conservative and Orthodox synagogues, warmly welcome interfaith families as participants in various ways in synagogue life. Nonetheless, some interfaith couples may be concerned that unless the non-Jewish spouse converts, the family (including children) will not be accepted in synagogue communities. In fact, in many interfaith families in which the children are being raised as Jews the non-Jewish parents often play key roles in providing for their children’s Jewish education and in creating a supportive Jewish home. Many Jews view such parents as providers of a precious gift and a blessing to the Jewish people.
When Living a Jewish Life Leads to Conversion
Over time, many non-Jews in interfaith families find themselves living a Jewish life. Often a life cycle event such as a bar or bat mitzvah, or a feeling of being more connected to the Jewish community will prompt a person to consider or reconsider the possibility of formally joining the Jewish people. Rabbis in Reform congregations often say they work with individuals who have chosen Judaism only after living in a Jewish family for many years. The door to Judaism is always open.
Judaism welcomes those who voluntarily become Jews and considers them full-fledged members of the Jewish community. The Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts include examples of individuals who made this decision. Perhaps the most well known and honored example is contained in the Book of Ruth, in which Ruth joins the Jewish people and eventually becomes the great-great grandmother of King David, from whose descendants, according to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will come.
In our day, most Jews wholeheartedly welcome “Jews-by-choice” or “converts” to the community. Although there is some objection to using distinctive terms to refer to a person who has voluntarily become a Jew, many people are proud to let others know they are converts to Judaism. In addition, as the number of people becoming Jewish continues to rise, and as various Jewish religious institutions develop programs to encourage and assist people in this process, it has become useful to talk publicly about choosing Judaism. Reform, Reconstructionist and, under certain circumstances, Conservative rabbis recognize the validity of conversions performed by rabbis of all branches of Judaism. Many Orthodox rabbis, however, do not recognize non-Orthodox conversions. It’s worth noting, however, that in North America today, Jewish commitment is a matter of choice for all who come to it, whether by birth or conversion.
Judaism: Is it a Good Fit?
The decision to convert (or not to convert) to Judaism is intensely personal and private. Although many people begin a Jewish journey toward conversion, not everyone completes the process. The best way to determine if you really want to become Jewish is to learn as much as possible about Judaism (its theology, rituals, history, culture and customs) and begin to practice those aspects that most appeal to you. Seek out Jewish friends, family members or a synagogue community for support. As you study and experiment with things Jewish at your own pace, you will gain a sense of comfort and be able to make decisions about next steps that are right for you.