How to Join the Jewish Religion

by Timothy Peckinpaugh
Converting to Judaism requires garnering extensive knowledge of Jewish culture and history.

Converting to Judaism requires garnering extensive knowledge of Jewish culture and history.

The process of converting to the Jewish faith is an extremely difficult task that requires an extensive level of devotion. Because converting to Judaism will substantially change every aspect of your life, Jews believe the process should not be simple. Becoming a Jew requires not only adhering to a new faith, but also adopting a new cultural and personal identity. To ensure the sincerity of the conversion, the process is lengthy and time-consuming. It takes about a year to complete.

Visit your local synagogue or Jewish community center to meet local congregants. Begin participating in Jewish community events. Before you convert, you will need a rabbi to mentor you, and you will need to accrue knowledge of Jewish customs and rites.

Consult a rabbi. The rabbi will assist you in the conversion process. Traditionally, rabbis would deny a conversion request three times to test the person's sincerity, though the practice is now an anomaly.

Read the Torah. Study Jewish theology, the history of the Jewish people and information about Jewish practices and rituals. Study basic Hebrew vocabulary and phrases. Some synagogues offer introductory courses on Judaism to assist with the process.

Learn the mitzvot, the commandments in the Torah. You must agree to follow all 613 commandments.

Obtain a circumcision if you are male and uncircumcised. Traditionally, a mohel performs the process on an infant; however, circumcision in adults requires a medical procedure. The mohel will then perform a hatafat dam brit, or ritual circumcision, on you. If you are already circumcised, you will receive a ceremonial circumcision in which the mohel will extract a drop of blood from your penis.

Take a mikvah, or ritual bath. Have an expert in the custom guide you. Traditionally, females use mikvahs during specific times and must remove all cosmetics before the process. However, males also engage in the practice during ceremonial times, such as before conversion.

Appear before the religious court called the Bet Din. The court will test your basic knowledge of Jewish religion, history and customs and will attempt to gauge the sincerity of your conversion by asking you why you chose to convert and how you will live as an observant Jew.

Tip

  • The process of converting requires changing every aspect of your life. Instead of thinking of the difficult and lengthy process as a deterrent to joining the Jewish faith, consider it a test of your desire for conversion.

Items you will need

  • Rabbi
  • Torah

About the Author

A resident of Riverside, California, Timothy Peckinpaugh began writing in 2006 for U.S. History Publishers, based in Temecula, California. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Riverside, with a bachelor's degree in English.

Photo Credits

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