So, You Want to Become a Jew? How to Convert to Judaism

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Answered by: Joe, An Expert in the Converting to Judaism Category
If you want to convert to Judaism, it will not be easy. It is by far the most difficult world religion to become a part of, but, it is possible. If you have discovered the Jewish faith and believe with your whole heart and soul that it is the only religion for you and you have an almost magnetic attraction to anything Jewish, conversion may be an excellent choice for you.

You can start by living as a Noahide. A Noahide is someone who lives by the 7 universal laws given to Noah by God that all of humanity must adhere to. If one follows these 7 commandments in their daily life, they are referred to as a “righteous gentile” and shall earn a noble place in The World to Come, or the Jewish concept of heaven. It’s probably best you attempt keeping the 7 laws first and seeing how you get on with them. If you still have that burning ambition to become a member of the Jewish tribe then perhaps it is time to choose a denomination and speak with a Rabbi.

There are three main variants of Judaism in the modern world. They are Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Judaism.

Reform Judaism is considered to the most lenient interpretation of Judaism. They believe that the Tanakh (The Jewish Scriptures) was inspired by God, but not his exact command. They believe that it has been altered over time and therefore do not take the mitzvoth, or commandments of it as final and non-questionable. They believe the Tanakh is open to interpretation and that Judaism needs to move with modern times. In this sect that means Shabbat (The Jewish day of rest) is not observed by many and they may also eat forbidden foods such as shellfish and pork among other things. Hebrew in services is quite infrequent and is almost always followed with a translation. If you want a more liberal interpretation of Judaism, this is probably the choice for you. If not, read on.

Then there is the Conservative movement, or Masorti Judaism. Conservative Judaism is often seen as the centre of the spectrum where Orthodox is at one end and Reform is at the other. Conservative Jews believe that the Tanakh is the word of God, but may have been altered over time. This still means however they take the mitzvoth and the word of the Torah as the word of the divine. Conservative Jews observe Shabbat strictly and will avoid non-kosher foods. They will however eat out at Restaurants and while in a Conservative service Hebrew is the primary language of prayer, it will not be as prevalent as it is in an Orthodox service. If you wish to follow an interpretation that is stricter than Reform Judaism but is not as strict as Orthodoxy, then Masorti Judaism is the correct sect for you.

Then finally, there is Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is the strictest form of Judaism as it believes that the Tanakh is the divine, unaltered word of HaShem, a Jewish name for God. They adhere to every single mitzvoth in the Torah and take Shabbat very seriously. Orthodox Jews are often seen wearing kippot (Prayer caps) in their everyday lives and women are required to cover their hair after marriage. In an Orthodox service Hebrew may be the only language used or will at least be used in the majority of the service. If you want to live as a Jew, the exact same way people have lived for hundreds of generations before; this is the sect you should choose.

Once you have chosen a sect, you should meet a Rabbi. Rabbis often (not all of them) have a tradition of turning away a potential convert 3 times before accepting them. After deciding that the person is ready to begin their path to Judaism, the Rabbi will direct you with your studies of the Tanakh, the Talmud (The code of Jewish Law) and Hebrew. You will also have to start attending prayer services. When the Rabbi has decided you are ready, you will then have a conversion ceremony.

If you are a male and you are not circumcised, you will be obliged to obtain the procedure. When you are then circumcised or if you are beforehand, you will then have drop of blood extracted from the organ and blessings shall be said.

The convert will then immerse in a spiritual bath known as a Mikvah. Once they have immersed in the bath and said the appropriate blessings, they will officially be a Jew. They will be responsible for keeping the entire Torah to the best of their abilities and will be a part of the Jewish community. If you believe in Judaism, your wish to convert to Judaism will come to pass.

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