Conversion to Judaism at Emanuel
Emanuel Synagogue welcomes all those who wish to explore what it means to live as a Jew - learning about our faith, spiritual practices, history, culture, traditions, values, festivals, connection with the land of Israel and the Hebrew language. We never put any pressure on anyone to convert - in fact, someone who is not a Jew can be an “Associate Member” (with the sense of belonging to our synagogue, albeit without a few certain privileges reserved for Jews). We encourage people to come along on a journey of learning with us and exploring Judaism, and seeing where that unfolds. Given there are so many elements in this journey, to join our people requires a major commitment, not just of time but also of heart and mind. Therefore, it is best to take this journey step by step and see where it leads. Perhaps you too will one day echo the words of Ruth, the first person according to legend who joined our people, uttering the words, “your God shall be my God, and your people shall be my people.” And if not, you will still always be welcome in our community.
In a sense, the curriculum of study unfolds from those worlds of Ruth. In terms of faith, one explores Judaism’s teaching of God, which resides in the notion that God is infinite, beyond all time and space, and also one. In Judaism, the path to ineffable and infinite being is one of both introspection and also action. The curriculum will thus explore the concepts of meditation, blessings and prayer, but also the practices of our people that have been learned through Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Judaism though is more than a faith, it is the way of life of a very real people, whose unique history goes back thousands of years, with connection to the land of Israel, and many highs and lows. The Torah reminds us that Jews have always been among the smallest of all peoples (today there are about 14 million Jews among 7 billion people on the planet, or about 0.5% of the word’s population.) As such, both Jews and Judaism can be misunderstood, and thus we invite you to learn from the inside, not just observe from the outside.
Thousands of years ago, the basic curriculum for joining our people was established by the first rabbis, who taught certain core principles needed to be understood and some basic mitzvot (or obligations) learned and practiced before one could officially become a Jew. Among those core principles is the singularity of being that teaches us that all life is interconnected, and thus that famous commandment found in Leviticus 19:18 “you shall love your neighbour as yourself”.
Among the practices are living in Jewish time, exemplified by the Shabbat, the foundation of all our festivals, a day dedicated to stopping and being, and understanding our obligations to humans (through social justice and other core values), animals (through the practice of kashrut or vegetarianism) and the environment (through our commandment not to waste and to serve and protect our planet.) The commitment to learning and practice does not stop with formal “conversion”, for it is incumbent on all Jews.
Please contact the Synagogue for guidance on how to begin this journey with us.
For details of the Darkeinu program, please download the following documents:
Darkeinu - Introduction to Judaism Course - curriculum and reading list