I am interested in the Judaism online course you offer. I am not Jewish but have had a deep interest in Judaism for many years. I have often thought of learning more for the purpose of conversion, and that is why I am interested in your course now. I would like to learn more about Judaism and see where I am led after this learning. I realise it is a journey of faith.
Unfortunately, where I live, country QLD, there are no synagogues close by where I could immerse myself into the synagogue and community. So, I do not know where this would leave me following my education.
Could it be possible to study your introduction course and use that in conjunction with meeting a Rabbi from another area on occasions. The closest synagogue is about 6 hours from where I live. Have potential converts done anything like this before?
Thank you so much for your time,
Rabbi Jonathan responded:
Thanks so much for your interest. I am the supervising Rabbi for the On-line Introduction to Judaism course, and I also have a congregation in Melbourne's Eastern Suburbs. Please look at the two introductory sessions at http://pjv.org.au/education/introduction-judaism-course-online-course#overlay-context=education/introduction-judaism-course-online-course, and if you find them helpful, you will be very welcome to undertake the course which will give you a deeper and more comprehensive of Judaism and especially as we view it through a Progressive lens. If you do undertake the course, I will keep an eye on your progress and be available for questions, and your tutor may well be my wife Sue, who is the lead tutor.
In terms of Conversion, completion of the Introduction to Judaism course is a major plank - but there are also important other aspects, some of which, as you rightly point out, will be very difficult for you in your location.
It is very hard to live a Jewish life alone - there are many aspects which are usually family or community celebrations or commemorations. Yes, you would be trailblazing - but you won't be the first, and as Herzl said, talking about the reestablishment of a Jewish homeland; 'Im Tirtzu, eyn zo agadah - if you really will it, it need be no dream'!
Other aspects required are: Relationship with a Rabbi (you are now commencing that with me!), and with a community... perhaps, over the years, we will be able to develop a 'virtual community' in some ways, but as yet it does not really exist - one thing we are trying to do is to organise an annual weekend for people to gather, study, meet and celebrate together - and of course we also have various congregations such as Central Coast, Gold Coast, Sydney and Brisbane, where we would arrange a welcome if you were able to visit. We also require an ability to read Hebrew (we have a self-study course for this purpose) and of course circumcision - the 'sign of the covenant with God'. It is not an easy job to become Jewish - even if you are near a community. It takes at least a year - simply because we want you to learn about the upcoming festivals as they approach, and ideally, to experience them. For most people, it takes longer, often two years or more.
But Judaism is a wonderful tradition, with a wealth of experience and guidance for every part of life, and worth the study and exploration. If you are looking to find out more, you have come to the right place. God is in this place!
In terms of the cost of the units, there are 7 (a mystical number in Judaism) and they currently cost $140 each - you pay as you work through them, so if it takes you longer, the cost is more spread out!
I hope that is useful. I would also refer you to http://upj.org.au/ which is the website for the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia and New Zealand, with lots of other useful information.