Choosing Judaism

Navigating Your Conversion

“It is a mitzvah to help a potential Jew become a Jew-by-choice.”
~ Rabbi Eric Yoffie

Welcome!
Yes. You can become a Jew.
Yes. Judaism has always welcomed converts.

Rabbi Valerie has worked with and supervised more than 70 converts to Judaism. She enjoys the process! Her experience, knowledge and understanding will help you navigate your unique path to conversion. Her compassion and her sense of humor will help you along the way.

The first step is to set up an appointment to meet with Rabbi Valerie in person (rabbivaleriecohen@gmail.com). That initial conversation will help clarify where you are on your journey to Judaism. While every person’s experience is different, here is the basic outline:

  • Understand what you already know
  • Set goals for what you need to learn
  • Attend services and congregational activities
  • Participate in the annual cycle of festivals and High Holy Days
  • Meet regularly with Rabbi Valerie
  • Take an Introduction to Judaism class
  • Read books
  • Ask questions
  • Answer questions
  • Write an essay about your journey to Judaism

When Rabbi Valerie and you know you are ready, you will go before your Beit Din (House of Judgement or Rabbinic Court). The Beit Din is usually made up of 3 clergy or active members of the congregation who will discuss your journey with you in order to verify that the sponsoring rabbi has appropriately prepared you for the next step in your Jewish life. It is an important and serious step. Yet it truly is more conversation than court; more of a discussion than a test. If you are male you may need to have a Hatafat Dam / symbolic circumcision or, if you are not circumcised, a B’rit Milah / covenant of circumcision. After the Beit Din you will immerse in the Mikveh. Temple Emanuel Sinai is fortunate to be located within driving distance of Mayyim Hayyim, an exceptional community Mikveh.

After you have immersed, Rabbi Valerie will coordinate a date with you for the Passing of Torah. That is also when she will administer the Priestly Blessing. While the Passing of Torah and the Priestly Blessing may take place in a private ceremony in the sanctuary, most newly minted Jews choose to do so at a Temple Emanuel Sinai Shabbat service. Just as the congregation lent their support and guidance to you as you learned more about Judaism, they will take great joy in celebrating with you as you become officially Jewish!

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