I have recently downloaded the two free trial sessions of your online course and have been working through them over the past few weeks. I have had a growing interest in converting to Judaism for some time now. I have been avidly reading about Judaism and have had the joy of engaging in some Jewish festivals and events this year including Passover and a weekly Shabbat dinner with family and friends. I am contacting you as I am hoping to formally enroll in your online course and I was also hoping to be able to attend somewhere for the upcoming high holidays for the adults service but also for the children's service with my 5 year old daughter.
I am due to have a baby shortly but I would love to talk with you either before or after the baby arrives to discuss further the conversion process and the next step in this exciting journey.
Rabbi Jonathan responds:
First my apologies in not responding more speedily - for some reason I have only just come across your email, and the delay should by no means be interpreted as a lack of interest. I do hope that the baby has arrived safe and sound by now!
You have not said where you are living but we do have Progressive congregations across the main cities of Australia and New Zealand which you can find at http://upj.org.au/ along with lots more information and links about Progressive Judaism. If you would like tickets to attend at one of them at the High Holydays, please call the office of your nearest congregation and discuss it with them. Do bear in mind that, sadly, Jewish communities do have certain well-founded security concerns and you may be asked to take identification etc.
Most will have children's services or activities that your child will be welcome to join in with, and many will have baby-change and other facilities should you take the baby as well - though children are welcome (they are our future!), we expect parents to keep an eye on them and remove them temporarily from services if they become a distraction please.
If you do go on to convert, and if you and your partner (you have not said if you have one) commit to bringing them up as Jews, then young children will be considered to be accepted when you are (unless your partner is already Jewish when they would be considered by us to be Jewish anyway - we require one Jewish parent - whether mother or father - and a Jewish upbringing to give Jewish status). On this basis the children would be welcome to attend Religion School and other activities whilst you are undertaking the course and of course subsequently.
The Introduction to Judaism course is just that - on its own it is not a Conversion course, though it does make up one key component of that process, which also requires some familiarity with Hebrew, and a relationship with a Rabbi and congregation, as well as acceptance in due course by a Bet Din (Jewish court).
Once you finish the two introductory sessions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll look over them and send you some feedback.
Feel free to contact me further with any other questions or queries you may have regarding commencing the course.