We welcome those who seek to join the Jewish people
“More beloved by God than all the children of Israel who stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai are those who choose Judaism, who come to the Torah of their own accord.” (Midrash Tanchuma)
Many people seeking a spiritual home find Judaism attractive. At Sherith Israel we welcome all to explore what Judaism offers. We recognize that conversion to Judaism represents a challenging, powerful and transformative undertaking. To make an informed decision about conversion to Judaism, an individual should thoroughly understand what it means to be Jewish. Our conversion program helps the prospective Jew-by-choice explore all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life. It takes about one year and encompasses several components:
Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices
This 12-week course, January–May, is led by Rabbi Jessica Graf, Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller and Cantor David Frommer. Prospective Jews-by-choice may take an equivalent course elsewhere. For more details see Exploring Jewish Beliefs and Practices: An Introduction to Judaism.
Discussion groups and mentoring
Led by clergy and lay facilitators, group discussions address issues fundamental to choosing Judaism.
In addition, each prospective Jew-by-choice works with a mentor—a member of the synagogue, who directs an individualized program of discussion and suggested study. We select mentors for their knowledge, enthusiasm and compatibility.
Hebrew language study
Small-group lessons use a basic approach to facilitate familiarity with the prayerbook and blessings.
We encourage individuals studying for conversion to join all aspects of congregational life, including Shabbat and holiday worship, as well as classes and volunteer opportunities at Sherith Israel and in the larger Jewish community.
Conversion and membership
Conversion usually culminates with an appearance before a beit din (religious court) composed of a Sherith Israel rabbi and two members of the congregation, plus a visit to the mikvah (ritual bath). Subsequently, the congregation publically welcomes the individual into the community. It is expected that individuals studying for conversion at Sherith Israel will become members of the congregation.
Please note that conversion represents a choice that must be made by an individual of his or her own free will. Following Jewish tradition, we never pressure prospective Jews-by-choice or seek them out from other religious institutions.