Converting to Judaism

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Considering marriage with orthodox Jew

Oct 2006

I recently met a man who I like who is an orthodox Jew. He is fairly strict and was raised Orthodox. He is much older than me, but I feel a strong connnection and we have a lot in common. The issue is that he wants to marry someone who converts and will become orthodox and raise the children that way. I was raised Christian though I have never felt an affinity. I meditate and enjoy learning about Buddhism. I wanted to hear from others in a similar situation. Anonymous

Unless you're committed to the religion, don't do it. I did it for a woman and it's 1) religion first 2) person second. You have to be 100 percent into that kind of religious belief or he'll never be into you anyways. David
You mention that your love interest wants you to convert but the one thing you didn't mention is do you feel an affinity for Judaism? Do you believe in the Jewish concept of G-d? Do you want to follow the laws of Judaism? Does the spirit of the Jewish people and religion call to you? If so, mazel tov! You are about to begin quite an adventure. If not, I would highly discourage you from converting. Faith has to come from within, not simply from a desire to please someone.

If you DO feel called to Judaism, the first thing to do is to find a synagogue where you feel comfortable and start going to services. Speak with the rabbi and find out if there are ''Intro to Judaism'' classes. Rabbis can help you find the information you need and get you started with a Jewish education (which is required prior to conversion). If you are interested in an Orthodox conversion (which are the only conversions the Orthodox acknowledge) check out Beth Jacob in Oakland or Beth Israel in Berkeley. If you and your partner feel more comfortable in a traditional but somewhat more progressive and egalitarian congregation, I would recommend a Conservative synagogue such as Netivot Shalom in Berkeley or Beth Abraham (?) in Oakland. The Conservative conversion process is a little less restrictive but may not be acknowledged by your husband's family or rabbi if they are Orthodox.

There is a forum for people who are converting here:

Also, there are many books available on what Judaism is all about that can help you figure out if it's for you Jew by Birth, Observant by Choice

I'm glad you found a partner that you connect with strongly. It sounds to me like you are not ready to convert to Judaism, especially Orthodox Judaism. In general, conversion requires studying, Orthodox practice for an extended period of time (a year or more), presenting to a Beit Din (a group of rabbis) and mikvah (purification/immersion). You won't get through the Beit Din unless you know a lot about Judaism and are living a Jewish life, including keeping shabbat, keeping kosher, celebrating holidays, etc.

I hope that you are able to begin practicing Judaism with your partner and learning more. As you start to live a Jewish life, then it's worth exploring whether or not you believe you are/want to be a Jew, and then finding a rabbi who will help you through the process. Good luck with your journey

I don't think this is a very popular opinion in our town, but I think spiritual ''similarity'' in a long term relationship should be a high priority. I would highly encourage you to try to seperate your feelings for this person from your spiritual inquiries and firmly decide on your ''spiritualness'' before you agree to a relationship with him. You will be ''bending'' to his wishes, in a way (to become orthodox), so you need to be sure that deep down this will not cause you bitterness or regret somewhere down the road.

For many people, their spirituality guides their decision-making and raising kids together requires a huuuge amount of decision making! :D My husband and I share the same faith and even we butt heads on things that I think should be 'no brainers' given our spritual similarity. But no. Enjoy your quest!

I can't tell from your post how much you know about Orthodox Judaism, but making such a conversion would be a serious commitment and a life-altering step. I think this would be especially true for someone from a non-observant background with an interest in Buddhism. This is serious monotheism, with major restrictions and rules about day-to-day living, family structure, and gender roles.

In addition, although Judaism welcomes converts, I think those who are not born into Judaism often feel separate from the community. My mother converted to Reform Judaism largely because my father wanted her to, and it was never a good fit. (She and I both became Unitarian Universalists as adults). There is a large ethnic/cultural component to Jewish identity; even though I am a UU and an atheist, I still consider myself Jewish, in that that is part of my family history and the culture in which I was raised.

It may be that there is more to your relationship with this man or with Judaism than was expressed in your posting, but my thought is that it should take much, much more than liking an Orthodox Jew to consider conversion. I think Orthodox rabbis would agree, as well A Convert's. Daughter

I strongly advise you to date this man for a long time, and even better, live with him for a while, before you decide to get married. Orthodox Judaism is a lifestyle, not just a religion practiced on the Sabbath. It will guide you through every part of every day. If it's not something you feel strongly about, you may have a very hard time following all the guidelines and raising your children in that environment. A Berkeley mom