Monday, 1 February 2016

I spent time on kibbutz and would like to become Jewish but my husband is Christian

I am 29 years old and I was brought up in the Uniting Church but stopped believing a long time ago. My husband is an Anglican and we have a 2 year old son. I have read many books over the years on all sorts of topics including Judaism. I have previously spent many years in industry. I live in XXXX and have visited the nearby synagogue though I have not been to a synagogue on shabbat before. I have been interested in Judaism for many years and used to be a country member of the Makor Jewish library.  I can read a little hebrew and when i was 18 I stayed on a kibbutz in Israel for an adventure which had a lasting impression.

Hi Annie,

Thanks for your background information.  

Let me say from the outset though that the Introduction to Judaism course is not the same as converting.  The synagogue near you is Chabad - which means not just orthodox but very orthodox in their practice and belief. They will not recognise me as a Rabbi, or any of our converts as Jews.  The nearest regular Progressive synagogue can be located by visiting  To convert you'd need to have established a relationship with a community who would recognise and support your journey.  You'd also need a 'Sponsoring Rabbi' (which could potentially be me as course supervisor) and learn to read hebrew, and if you were male you'd need to be circumcised.

You should also take any opportunity to go along to any synagogue, for example when you are travelling or on holiday, to widen your experiences - though it is advisable to contact them in advance during the week, and bring along a drivers licence or other proof of identity as, sadly, we all have to be very security-conscious these days.

When starting this journey, it is important to understand that, whilst our underlying belief in One unique, caring, loving, forgiving Creator, and our obligations to God and to each other as human beings, and to God's world, are common between orthodox and Progressive Judaism, in practice, expectation and belief we vary widely.  The difference goes a long way back, and stems from our understanding of Torah.  'Orthodox' belief is that God gave the Torah, word by word, and it is therefore fundamentally true and inerrant.

Progressive Jews (Reform, Liberal, Reconstructionist etc) believe that humans wrote the Torah, albeit 'divinely inspired' and trying to answer the questions 'What does God want of us? How should we act, behave, practice and raise our children?'

The last point, on raising children, is particularly pertinent in your case.  You say your husband is Anglican, but not whether he is practicing.  We have a problem in creating 'mixed families', in part because of the different traditions and expectations, and in part because of the confusion it can cause to children.  Whilst we wouldn't want to stand in the way of any individual developing their personal framework for life and relationship with God - and ultimately becoming Jewish - we would want to be confident that it was going to work for the household.   For example we may want to talk to your partner or at least have a letter to state that they are supportive of the journey to you becoming Jewish - and we'd want clarity about how the children are to be brought up - will it be as Jews, who know they have a Jewish parent and a Christian one, or as Anglicans who know they have a Jewish parent and a Christian one, or as 'both', so they can 'choose for themselves' (we don't think the latter is really likely or even possible).  

I hope that these responses are helpful and informative, and will no doubt give you food for further thought.  However, I'd like to conclude by reiterating that we believe Progressive Judaism offers a rich and wonderful framework for a modern and meaningful spiritual life, and we'll do all we can to assist if you do wish to continue on this path.


Rabbi Jonathan 

No comments:

Post a Comment