Pathways to Choosing Judaism at Congregation Emanu-El
Choosing Judaism at Congregation Emanu-El entails a period of spiritual, textual, and practical learning. The prospective convert studies about Judaism, participates in the life of the synagogue, and develops and deepens his or her personal commitment and relationship with God, Torah, and the Jewish people.
Conversion is a challenging and powerful process. While it requires strong dedication and soul-searching, the results are extraordinary. To help you learn more, you may request a "Conversion Greeter"—a lay person who has gone through this process - when you meet with your Guide Rabbi. Conversion Assistant Ellen Holderman can answer questions.
Preparation for conversion at Congregation Emanu-El includes the following activities:
Introduction to Judaism - The prospective convert usually begins with this course, taught by senior faculty of Temple Emanu-El. It is a pathway for the adult learner who wishes to discover Jewish knowledge. Each session will have two parts: an initial presentation on a specific topic, followed by discussion groups.
The Guide Rabbi - Each student will have a guide rabbi from our rabbinic faculty. The guide rabbi will periodically have individual meetings with the prospective candidate.
Jewish Living - The prospective convert begins to "view the world through Jewish eyes" through the celebration of Sabbath and holidays, observance of mitzvoth, and participation in the Jewish community. Although not required, an ability to read Hebrew enhances participation in the synagogue and in Jewish ritual. The guide rabbi can provide suggestions on how to acquire a basic reading knowledge of Hebrew.
The Conversion Group - This group meets monthly during the winter and spring and creates an environment of guidance and support as individuals participate in various Jewish activities. Individuals will write a letter before each group meeting, reflecting on their Jewish experience during the preceding month. They will also read selections from books chosen in consultation with the guide rabbi.
When the guide rabbi and the candidate agree that the individual is prepared for conversion, the Rabbi will schedule an appointment for the Beit Din (rabbinic court), mikvah (ritual immersion) and conversion ceremony. Prospective male converts can discuss the issue of circumcision with their guide rabbi.
Guidelines for conversion:
- Synagogue participation
- Completion of two of three trimesters of "Introduction to Judaism" and intention to finish
- Full participation in the conversion group
- A personal essay describing the journey toward conversion
- Completion of the ritual requirements for conversion (Beit din, mikvah and conversion ceremony)
Becoming an adult Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Anshei Mitzvah, is encouraged for all those who have chosen Judaism as their life path.
Introduction to Judaism
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