I have just found the information about the online course from the google search. I was wondering if this is the course that allows the conversion for non jews, and whether i can be allowed to convert after taking your course.
Our Introduction to Judaism course gives the 'academic' knowledge required for conversion through the Bet Din of the Union for Progressive Judaism, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Our conversion is accepted by Israel for immigration, but not recognised by the interior ministry for marriage etc. As you probably know, they only accept some (and not all) orthodox conversions! This means you will need to be civilly married outside Israel - this is then recognised as a legal marriage!
In addition to the academic course, you will need to develop a relationship with a congregation in Israel, and a 'Sponsoring' Rabbi, will need to be able to read hebrew, and, if you were male, you'd need brit.
I am not sure if there is any advantage to you in undertaking our on-line course compared to enrolling in an Israeli Progressive congregation's conversion group. You have not said where in Israel you are living, whether you have an Israeli partner, and if so, whether they are involved in a Progressive congregation or willing to be? It would also be useful to know a bit more about your background, work and motivation to explore conversion, and if you are planning to remain permanently in Israel or, if not, what your timescales are.
Thank you Rabbi,
I would like to undertake a course of conversion to Judaism. I have always been drawn to it and I am half Jewish. I am currently residing in Israel to fully experience a Jewish life.
I lived in a secular environment, and never undertook any religious education. I remember having some Jewish friends in childhood and spending time in their homes. As well as I saw my grandmother from my father's side lighting Shabbat candles.
I recently lived in remote areas of the world, and only about 5 years ago I was able to visit synagogue and make contact with Jewish communities.
Somehow I started to become very interested in Judaism. Most importantly I had not fully been able to join a synagogue, as I had no documents that I am a Jew, as they requested my parents ketubah and so on.
The Jewish communities I have experienced are very hesitant to accept any strangers. There are also many reasons of why I could not join, being distance from the synagogue as I was living too far away, and financial reasons. For various reasons very slowly I started to feel a Jewish identity, I started with attending festivals only and reading online.
I was interested in a conversion program, but the ones available were reform in my nearest city, and some other reform ones on line. For this reason I decided to come to Israel and live a full Jewish life that was unavailable to me at home.
Now free from any obligations I had to fulfill all my life, I want to spend remaining years studying Judaism and becoming a fully observant Jew.
I am now living in Bnei Brak where I can fully observe life as a Jew. I have Jewish friends, and though I am very limited by language, as I don’t speak Hebrew, I also attend English lectures at Chabad Institute Or Chaya in Jerusalem. I visit the orthodox shule, but they had no religious education for beginners. I have attended Shabbat dinners at my friends’ homes. I follow the laws of kashrut and Shabbat.
Recently I was thinking why had I spent 30 years of not following Judaism and also of why Jews were sent to exile to different parts of the world. We were told in the lectures of Or Chaya this was so they could spread Judaism to different parts of the world and gain converts. I believe it was a miracle that happened from God that I was able to come to Israel and so far see things I was only able to dream about. I feel now more than ever I am ready to become a full Jew and undertake a course in Judaism.
Hi again Debora,
Thanks for your response to me earlier questions.
I am pleased to hear that you have made your way to Israel, and I am sure that in due course you will find what you are looking for there.
Your various comments indicate to me that me are not able to help you.
I was interested in conversion program, but the ones available were reform in my nearest city and some other reform on line. For this reason I decided to come to Israel and live a full Jewish life that was unavailable to me in Australia.
Now free from any obligations I had to fulfill all my life, I want to spend remaining years studying Judaism and becoming fully observant Jew.
I am now living in Bnei Brak where I can fully observe life as a Jew. I have Jewish friends, and though I am very limited by language, as I don’t speak Hebrew, I also attend English lectures at Chabad Institute Or Chaya in Jerusalem. I visit the local orthodox shule, but they had no religious education for beginners. I have attended Shabbat dinners at my Jewish friends’ homes. I follow the laws of kashrut and Shabbat.
In particular it is your wish to be what you call a 'fully observant Jew', living in Bnai Brak and attending Chabad, as well as your comments about Reform in your nearest city and on line.
I am a Progressive Rabbi and you have enquired about a Progressive Introduction to Judaism course. Progressive is an umbrella term for 'Reform, Liberal, Reconstructionist, modern' Jews, and indeed Progressive Judaism, who run the course, is part of the Union for Progressive Judaism, which in turn is our regional part of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ).
The WUPJ is headquartered in Jerusalem (just down the hill from The King David Hotel and YMCA), and is the largest synagogal body in the world.
We believe that Progressive Judaism offers the opportunity for a Jew to live a modern life on the modern world, with a meaningful spiritual framework, and recognising the equality of the sexes, and celebrating the fact that all humans are created in the image of God, whether Jewish or Muslim or Christian or atheist, whatever colour, whether straight, gay or transgender. These are not beliefs you will find widely shared within other parts of Judaism!
Given that you have made the move to Israel, and apparently the decision to recover your Jewish family tradition, and appear to be on the road to become orthodox or ultra-orthodox, I would think your best path would be to enroll on a religious kibbutz which has entered the 'conversion industry'. This will immerse you fully in the life - and you will be able to decide whether this is really how you want to spend the rest of your life. If so, you can get all the tuition and an orthodox conversion there within six months or so, I believe. they will probably also help find a husband...
You should however be aware, if you follow that path, that some years ago they created a new rule - these conversions are only valid in Israel - if you leave Israel they may not be considered valid - ie you lose your Jewish status if you move back to Australia (or anywhere else). This happened to Paula Cohen, who moved to the UK, and this 'geographical qualification' is unprecedented within Jewish tradition.
I hope that is of use to you. I will disguise your identity and put this correspondence up on our blog so that others may read and learn from it.
I wish you good luck in your journey, and if I can be of further assistance, please let me know.
Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black