Sunday, 28 September 2014

Can I become Jewish in Alice Springs?

My name is Jeremy and I live in Alice Springs. I am interested in converting to Judaism. Would it be possible for me to do this through your community although I live far away from Melbourne?
I noticed you have an online conversion program with 7 modules, how much does each module cost?
Does the program include a beth din and immersion in a mikva, presentation of a hebrew name and a form saying that I've converted to Judaism? Would I need to travel to Melbourne to receive this?
I hope to hear from you soon and please ask me any questions if necessary

Rabbi Jonathan responds:

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for contacting us.  The Introduction to Judaism Course is a comprehensive introduction to Progressive Judaism - a great framework for modern Jewish life - but it is not a conversion course on its own.  It is very difficult - even for someone already Jewish - to live a fulfilling Jewish life away from other Jews and community.  Sadly, in Alice, you are indeed a very long way from any regular Jewish community.  If you are interested, Rabbi Raymond Apple has written a fascinating summary of (the lack of) Jewish life in the NT at:

For conversion to Judaism we require:

i) Good general knowledge (Intro course)

ii) Ability to read (decode) Hebrew

iii) Relationship with a Rabbi (the 'Sponsoring Rabbi')

iv) Relationship with a congregation which will accept you

v) Circumcision for a male (except in special circumstances).

Until we can find an effective way to link people in to a 'virtual community' therefore, I do not see how we will be able to help you to become Jewish.  The Introduction course, though, will certainly give a very good understanding and overview of Judaism from a Progressive perspective, and be an excellent grounding should you at a later time move to be within reach of a community.  You will find locations for all Progressive Communities in Australia, New Zealand and Asia at:

I can however answer your questions.  The seven modules currently cost $145 each (including personal tutor support and marking).  A Bet Din (Jewish court) and Mikveh (ritual immersion) are not part of the Introduction Course - as explained above, the conversion is an additional stage and there is a moderate additional cost for the Bet Din and Mikveh.  You would need to come to either Melbourne or Sydney where the Bet Din sits regularly.  On successfully completing the Bet Din and Mikveh, you would be presented with a certificate recognising your conversion and joining the Jewish people - and it would include the Jewish name that you have chosen.  Although this conversion certificate would be acceptable across the Progressive (Reform/Liberal/Reconstructionist) Jewish world (the majority of synagogues in the world), and by Israel for Aliyah, it would not be acceptable by most orthodox communities or Rabbis (including in Israel).

I do hope that makes the situation clearer and will be very happy to discuss your situation further.


Rabbi Jonathan


  1. Hi Rabbi Jonathan
    I too have been studying online with an American programme, but was thrilled to find the course and information on conversion here in Australia. I was, however, concerned that I would need to learn Hebrew. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which affects my cognitive abilities, could you please explain further the level of Hebrew required in order to convert?

    1. Hi Gill,

      Please see my new post 'Do I really need to learn Hebrew?'