Conversion Procedures

The following normative conversion procedures are used by rabbinic courts to help them develop a sense of confidence that a prospective convert will continue, post-conversion, to sincerely walk in the ways of Torah with a complete heart.

  1. Acceptance by a Sponsoring Rabbi as a Conversion Candidate.

    This will often involve some kind of application and interview. It may also involve getting to know the rabbi's community and regularly attending the synagogue of the rabbi and some of his classes. How long before you are accepted by the rabbi is completely dependent on the individual rabbi. Your initial acceptance on the part of the rabbi can vary widely based on his attitude towards conversion in general, his prior experiences with conversions in particular, his schedule, and his sense of your sincerity as a prospective convert.

  1. Acceptance by a Rabbinic Court as a Conversion Candidate.

    This will involve another application and an initial interview. Needless to say this is a key interview. If you utilize this website well you will make a positive first- impression.

  1. Study in Conversion Program.

    This can involve your joining a pre-existent conversion program of the sponsoring rabbi, a community program, or an individualized program that the sponsoring rabbi develops for you. Some rabbis, if they have great confidence in the prospective convert, will start the prospective convert right away in a conversion program, as they feel confident the rabbinic court will surely accept them. Some rabbinic courts prefer that entrance into a formal program only begin after the prospective convert has been formally accepted as a candidate by the rabbinic court. The average length of a conversion program is 1 year; some are longer and some shorter. There are no guarantees regarding the length of a conversion program because the conversion is completely dependent on a rabbinic court's judgment that the conversion candidate is ready.

  1. Rabbinic Court Interviews.

    The average is about 3 interviews within the duration of the conversion program, however, there can be more; it is unusual for there to be less. These interviews generally are in person; however, some rabbinic courts, especially if the cost of travel is great, may consider a phone appointment for the first or second interview, but this should not be expected. These interviews average about an hour in length and the basic function is to see where the candidate is holding in their observance, knowledge, and commitment. In addition, the rabbinic court is concerned about the adjustment issues of other family members where applicable. In the final interview a Mikvah (Ritual Bath) date will be set for a woman or a referral to a ritual circumciser for a man. After the necessary ritual procedure on the man has been completed, the court will set a Mikvah (Ritual Bath) date for him.

  1. Conversion Ritual.

    First, there is the final interview and the Acceptance of the Commandments; this can be a series of questions regarding your commitment to Jewish Law, making a formal declaration to keep the Commandments in a fully observant way or both. A minority of rabbinic courts will also have you make a written commitment as well. Second, there is the Mikvah preparation where you soak in a bath and clean yourself, careful to remove any interpositions from your body. Third, prior to the full immersion, while you are in the water, there is a mini-repeat of the final interview generally as a series of questions regarding your commitment to Jewish Law. Some rabbinic courts will do the formal acceptance of the commandments at this point. Fourth, you immerse in the ritual bath, and when you arise you recite a special blessing

  1. Special Situations.

    When children are involved (below 13 for a boy and 12 for a girl), there is no formal acceptance of the commandments, but there is full immersion in the ritual bath. For a boy, there is also a circumcision or the ritual drawing of a droplet blood from the area of circumcision. The child is brought back to the Rabbinic Court at the age of initial halakhic maturity (12 for a girl and 13 for a boy), and then they are asked whether being a Torah-committed Jew or Jewess is their path. If yes, everything is fine. If the answer is no, they are no longer Jewish. If a prospective convert who is civilly married to a Jew converts, then they are usually married in a religious ceremony on the same day, if all halakhic considerations allow for it.