How to Convert to Judaism
Converting to Judaism entails a lot of work, study and perseverance on the part of the potential convert. It is not as easy as some people think and it necessitate a somewhat radical change of lifestyle and a continuous learning process of Judaism.
Judaism is the oldest, monotheistic religion in the world. It comes first even before Islam in tracing its common roots back to Abraham and predates Christianity by approximately four thousand years; in truth, Jesus of Nazareth is a Jew. The Old Testament of the Christian bible is, in fact, the original Hebrew Bible.
In converting to Judaism, it is recommended that an individual do the following steps in order to make sure that the right decision is being made.
As converting to Judaism might be a delicate subject, be sure to advise your family of your plan to convert. Have all your reasons ready and give details clearly about your motive and desire to convert to Judaism. You and your family should all be at ease with your decision.
Try to talk to as many people as possible about Judaism and its main beliefs, values, and customs. By having intelligent conversations and discussions about Judaism can you have a painstaking study of what it really means to be a Jew in order to find out if becoming one is what you really want.
Although Judaism has 5 denominations, there are only 3 main branches: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform – and each of them have different methods of ceremonies and rituals. If the reason for your conversion is because of marriage, then it is best to talk with your future husband/wife to settle on the best option of choosing which Jewish community you will join.
Only after you have really determined that you have satisfactory reasons to convert should you see a Rabbi in order to discuss the procedure.
Converting to Judaism takes several months of conscientious study, and without doubt also includes learning some basic Hebrew including proving and demonstrating your knowledge of Jewish history and culture. If you decide to join Orthodox Judaism, part of the official conversion process is an official questioning (similar to an oral examination) about obedience to the Jewish Laws (Halacha) in a Jewish court.
Be prepared to take a written and oral test as the final hurdle of the conversion process.
Passing the tests gives you the right to convert to the Jewish religion however, Being a Jew also entails a lifetime commitment to abide by a specific belief system and way of life. More so in Jewish Orthodox communities where religion is not something to be taken lightly as it involves a life of continuous learning of and observance of religious rituals.
After converting to Judaism, some converts elect to undergo a Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony but this is not obligatory. What is obligatory and necessary is to acquire a Jewish name, by which the new convert will be called for significant Jewish rituals.
For males, if you convert to either Orthodox or Conservative Judaism, one of the prerequisites is circumcision however, if you are already circumcised, for the sake of symbolism, a drop of blood will meet the requirements. Also, both male and female converts must perform the purification ritual (Mikvah).
An important reminder to would-be converts is that it is Jewish practice for a rabbi to refuse the potential converts three times, therefore, you need to be determined if becoming a Jew is really what you want. You should also prepare yourself for any anti-semitism or anti-Jewish sentiment after your conversion. Although more and more people in the world are now more tolerant toward Jews, there are still many people who do not like Jews.