Is it possible to convert to Judaism online?
In my tradition – the Conservative/Masorti movement of Judaism – conversion requires:
- Extensive learning about Judaism
- Brit milah or hatafat dam brit (for males only)
- Approval by a beit din (a court of three rabbis)
- Immersion in a mikveh
Hard to fully immerse in water over a WiFi connection.
So perhaps the better question is:
Can I take a conversion to Judaism class online?
The short answer is Yes.
The longer answer, I’ll give as a personal note to readers of this blog. I just shared this with my e-mail list, and I want you to know, too. There’s an important project I’ve been working on.
Offering a converstion-oriented class is something I’ve considered for a while, and today I’m finally ready to take action. I’m very interested to know what you think.
Over the last few months since we launched, many people have asked whether The Jewcurious School provided a path for conversion to Judaism.
So far, my answer has always been, “Not yet.”
Well, today, I have a different answer.
Next week, I’m starting a special class within The Jewcurious School geared toward people who are interested in converting to Judaism.
- God – Who God is to Jews, what God does, and how we connect with God today
- Torah – The written Torah (Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings) and the oral Torah (Rabbinic interpretation in Midrash, Mishnah, Talmud, law codes, and Kabbalah)
- Israel – The history and evolving diversity of our people, Jewish denominations, the modern State of Israel, and how we deal with antisemitism
- Jewish Time – The calendar, holidays, Shabbat, and sacred moments for individuals like birth, bar mitzvah, marriage, and death
- Jewish Space – The Jewish home, and feeling at home in a synagogue and other Jewish buildings
- Jewish Action – Mitzvot: Commandments, good deeds, repairing the world, Jewish ethics, and how we’re mindful of what we eat, how we communicate, and how we strengthen our relationships
For the first cohort, this will be approximately a 6-month program. Students can access weekly live classes online so they can learn the material together AND get answers to their questions live, on the spot, just like in a physical classroom. Of course, like all our classes, these sessions will be recorded, in case you can’t make the appointed time or want to review.
What this class is…and isn’t
This class is designed to teach you what you need to know to be fully prepared for conversion by the standards of Conservative Judaism (and any other movement or community who accepts those standards).
Of course, there are some things our tradition requires that you can’t do online, like immersion in a mikveh.
This program DOES completely satisfy the educational requirement for conversion, and students WILL cover the same depth and breadth of knowledge I’ve taught dozens of students over the years, many of whom I’ve gone on to successfully sponsor for conversion.
To be 100% clear, this isn’t an all-inclusive, “check the boxes and print off your certificate of conversion” program.
I don’t believe that’s the best way for people to fully prepare to join the Jewish family.
And I don’t believe that’s the best way for converts to integrate into the Jewish family.
What I believe
I DO believe that people can learn online what they need to learn to decide whether they want to be Jewish , and to prepare for an interview with a Beit Din (court of three rabbis you will needed to approve any conversion).
And I DO believe The Jewcurious School is a great platform for doing that learning AND a great platform for us to work one-on-one as needed to evaluate and prepare people who want to convert.
Just like in the live in-person classes I teach, your tuition and study does not guarantee your acceptance into the Jewish people.
HOWEVER, if, after completing the program, students decide to convert, and they and I both agree they’re ready, I’ll serve as their sponsoring rabbi for conversion and help them find what they need (such as a Beit Din they can access and a place for ritual immersion) in order to complete the process.
And like most in-person classes I know, the tuition for the learning does not cover the usual cost for using the mikveh (goes toward maintaining the mikveh) or compensating the rabbis of the Beit Din for their time. But I’m committed to helping my students find the most affordable ways possible for meeting these requirements.
What to do next
If you know someone who might be interested in this, my best advice is for them to join The Jewcurious School today. That’s because current members (as of the beginning of the class) will have priority access to the conversion-track course, at no additional cost beyond regular our monthly or annual tuition.
That may change as the program develops – conversion students require a lot of personal attention and one-on-one time. But for early adopters who join us before we get started next week, the offer stands.
Why am I doing this?
I started The Jewcurious School back in October 2018 to help Jewcurious people who want to know more about Judaism and the Jewish people, regardless of their own background. I especially wanted to help people connect to Jewish learning (and to each other) who live far away from synagogues and Jewish communities, or else their busy lives put in-person classes out of reach.
And it worked! We now have more than two dozen students from all over the USA, as well as Germany, Canada, and Cyprus.
But more and more, I have gotten the question: Can I study for conversion in The Jewcurious School?
That wasn’t my original intent; however, my mission has always been to meet my students needs as best I can.
Over the last four and a half years since becoming a rabbi, I have taught dozens of students in intro to Judaism classes in Los Angeles. I have sponsored more than a dozen of those students to convert. And I have sat on a Beit Din that interviewed dozens of conversion candidates and welcomed them into the Jewish family.
I also have a bit of an unfair advantage.
I myself converted nearly 19 years ago, and about 12 years ago, my wife took a conversion class. This means I’ve twice been a student in a program like the one I’m offering…so I’ve seen it from all angles. Whatever question you have about Judaism or becoming Jewish, I’ve had myself.
Finally, I’ve seen more and more conversion classes appear online in the last few years. I assume all of them intend to help people who want to find their place in the Jewish community. I have no doubt about their motives, nor personal experience of their quality.
What I do have is a school I designed to meet the needs of Jewcurious people world-wide (more than two dozen students and growing).
I have experience teaching people who want to convert, and as a rabbi on a Beit Din, experience supervising dozens of successful conversions.
I’m a convert myself, and I’ve gone through a program like this. I’ve been where you are, and I’ve had the questions you have.
And now, if it’s something you or someone you care about is interested in, we have a way to take this journey together.
How can you join us?
Enroll in The Jewcurious School now now to be a part of this new program as it develops, and get the full benefits of this program (AND all the classes and community The Jewcurious School currently offers) for the current monthly and annual tuition rates.
Over the next week, members will find out about the exact schedule of our live sessions and how to access them, what will be covered in each session, and what sort of “homework” and extra meetings will be required for those who want to convert.
In the meantime f you have any questions about this program or The Jewcurious School, to not hesitate to ask in the comments below or reach out on social media.
If this is for you, I’m excited for us to learn together.
PS…While conversion is not guaranteed (or required) for all students, membership in The Jewcurious School always comes with a 30-Day Risk-Free 100% Guarantee.