We get asked all the time about conversion to Judaism. Here’s our FAQ. Hopefully it will answer your questions.
- How do I convert to Judaism online?
We highly recommend our friends at Convert To Judaism Online supervised by Chicago Conversion Beit Din, headed by Rabbi Shlomo Levine (past president of the Chicago Board of rabbis and Rabbinical Assembly region). They are terrific people who have worked with conversion students all around the world.
Check out this interview with one of the bet din rabbis, Jonathan Ginsberg, on the conversion program.
You can also check out this article and let us know what you think about converting to Judaism online.
- Can I go to a synagogue if I am not Jewish?
Yes, watch this video to learn why.
- But I want to convert with Rabbi Patrick Aleph!
At this time, soon-to-be-rabbi Patrick Aleph does not do online conversions to Judaism. Seriously, Rabbi Levine is a cool guy.
- I live on a fixed income and cannot afford to convert to Judaism. What do I do?
Conversion classes are relatively inexpensive, and synagogues do not “force” people to pay dues. Talk with your rabbi about these issues. A good rabbi will help you out. And if they don’t, then consider someone else.
- Why do I have to pay to convert at all? And why does it cost so much?
Watch this video for more info or read below.
There is a conflict between time and money. A rabbi who does not work for a synagogue or other Jewish organization full time has all the time in the world to help conversion candidates. However, he/she has to make a living, and has to charge conversion candidates some nominal fee for classes, counseling, the bet din, mikvah, hatafat dam brit, etc. A rabbi with full time work could, in theory, do free conversions — but they are also leading Torah study and other classes, worship services, counseling, bnei mitzvah prep, burying the dead, visiting the sick, performing weddings and fundraising for the synagogue that they do not have the time to help conversion candidates the way they would like to.
It’s a double edged sword: the people who have time need the money, and the people with the money don’t have the time.
Also, there is little to no funding for conversion rabbis. While there are non-profits and foundations which support Jewish education, synagogue life, outreach, kosher food banks and other areas of Jewish life, there are none that specifically fund conversion. This means that conversion candidates are forced to pay the full cost of a conversion to Judaism.
- Can I convert to Judaism without circumcision or hatafat dam brit, mikvah, bet din?
You can live a Jewish life without doing any of these things. However, if you want to practice Judaism according to normative Jewish law, these things are required.
- Can I convert to Judaism if I am gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
Yes! And PunkTorah has a lot of resources for LGBT Jews.
- I live in a town where there is no Jewish community. Can I convert to Judaism?
Yes! First, watch this video on being Jewish and alone.
Also, talk to our friend Rabbi Jonathan Ginsberg about this. Also, please come to OneShul.org for online, live streaming Shabbat services, classes and holiday events. No Jew should be alone and with our online synagogue, you instantly have a Jewish community to belong to.
- I have tattoos. Can I convert to Judaism.
Yes. And contrary to urban legend, you can be buried in a Jewish cemetery.
- I love Judaism but do not want to do a full conversion. Is that OK?
Religious freedom is a wonderful thing. Have fun!
- I want to convert but also believe in Jesus. Can I be a messianic Jew?
You can do whatever you want, but belief that Jesus is the messiah is not compatible with Judaism. Watch this video for more info.
- I’m afraid to convert!
Check out this video.
Also, do not be afraid to talk with a rabbi. Talking to you about conversion is part of their job. Are you afraid to talk to the person who changes your car’s oil, or talk to your doctor about your health? Same idea.
- Do I need to [convert, learn Hebrew, learn all the prayers, make a reservation, etc.] to attend synagogue?
No. Just show up. In fact, if you are looking for a synagogue, try going to several and see what fits. Also, visit OneShul.org, our online synagogue that is open to everyone regardless of religious affiliation.
- I have a question that you haven’t answered. Help me!
Sure thing. Email email@example.com and we’ll help you out.