Mazal Tov! you have decided to convert to Judaism, But before you do it there are things must know about this whole process. Converting to Judaism demands your self-examination. It also penetrates your spiritual wellbeing and innermost character in the process to get a new identity of yours.
As per beit din (rabbinic court that handles conversion), a candidate who wants to convert into Judaism should have the right motivation to accept it. She/he may go through everything that comes in the process.
Liberal movements allow the initial motivation of a conversion candidate. For example, a marriage or intimate relationship could inspire one to accept Judaism. Some movements often have variations depending on the country. So if you are planning to relocate, you need to be sure that your conversion will match the standards of the Jewish community of that country.
You should know whether the institution or rabbi from which you are taking the guidance should be well known. In addition, other institutions and rabbis also recognize their conversions.
There are different movements of various visions about what it takes to become a Jew. In other words, their conversion requirements differ a lot! The process of conversion to Judaism could be different from one movement to another, but some rituals to do it are similar in all!
Converting to Judaism: What is the Procedure?
Traditional rabbis want the candidate to go through every older ritual prescribed by their rabbis. In the case of liberal rabbis, they may ask their candidates to follow only selective procedures. By the way, circumcision is universal among all varieties of conversions. You can assume the following points as steps for the process to convert into a Jew;
If you desire to convert, you should first learn everything about Jewish culture and ethnoreligion. Synagogues, Jewish institutes, or community centers take classes for people who want to learn about Judaism. You can find the right rabbi to gain knowledge and guidance on the conversion process.
By the way, there are different ways to find assistance! It might take weeks, months, or more than that for converts to learn about Judaism and to decide for conversion. Once the rabbi and candidate agree on the right time to convert into a Jew, the formal procedure will begin.
2) Males should go through Circumcision
Brit Milah or circumcision is the first step in the traditional conversion procedure for males. If a person has already gone through circumcision, perform a ritual to extract a drop of the blood (hatafat dam brit). A Reconstructionist or Reform rabbi may give a choice to the candidate to perform hatafat dam brit!
3) Request to Rabbinic Court (Beit Din)
After healing of the circumcision, a beit din is organized. It is a court of three people including at least one rabbi and two observant Jews. These members are well knowledgeable about the conversion laws. They also have sole authority over the readiness of a candidate for conversion.
The court finds the sincerity of a candidate towards conversion. It is possible by testing her or his motivation, knowledge, and intention to live like a Jew. A convert must have the will to agree on the validity and commit to following the Jewish commandments. Liberal rabbis generally ask candidates to perform chosen commandments.
4) Perform Ritual Bath (Mikveh)
After getting the beit din’s approval, converts usually immerse in mikveh, the ritual pool. If it is not available, then an ocean, lake, or even sometimes swimming pool (by some non-Orthodox authorities) can be used for the purpose. The mikveh water indicates liminality or in-between state of the convert as a sign of spiritual rebirth.
Tevillah (immersion) is the symbol to clean the past misdeeds of a converting candidate. It also prepares a candidate for a new future and destiny. One can legitimately recite the immersion blessings. After the process of immersion, the candidate officially becomes a Jew!
A newborn Jew can adopt a Jewish name but is not sufficient for its complete identity in the Jewish tradition. So to get a location in the Jewish spiritual place, parents’ names are added to the Hebrew names. It occurs when Jews participate in the Torah or white they are signing the legal documents.
During conversion, candidates traditionally adopt Sarah and Abraham as spiritual parents. Legally, one can refer to it as “daughter of Sarah, our Mother” (bat Sarah Imenu) or “son of Abraham, our Father” (ben Avraham Avinu).
What would be the Post Conversion Scenarios?
After becoming a Jew, a convert needs to face some challenges like;
– To become a part of the Jewish people.
– To fill the emotional gaps and avoid the feeling of being a convert.
– To reestablish relationships with the birth families.
– To develop new relations with the newly linked Jewish families.
Thus, Converting to Judaism is a process that demands the persistence and patience of candidates. These can help one adopt the subculture and habit of Jews with the proper knowledge of their ethnoreligion!