"A perfect way for me to be officially Jewish after years of study and exploration." Elyssa
Conversion to Judaism is as old as Judaism itself; after all, Abraham and Sarah, the ancestors of our people, were not born Jewish. Ever since then, people have been drawn to join our community -- often through love for a Jewish person, which becomes a love for Judaism as well.
The best-known story of conversion is found in the Book of Ruth, in which the widowed non-Jewish daughter-in-law, Ruth, casts her lot and her life with her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi. The story of Ruth is an on-going part of Jewish history, which continues to this day.
In fact, more people are choosing to become Jewish today than at any other point in history. This is a blessing and a cause for celebration and gratitude. At Mayyim Hayyim, conversion is afforded the dignity and honor it deserves.
The formal process of converting to Judaism takes years of study, and culminates with three powerful rituals, the last of which is immersion in a mikveh. We work in concert with rabbis of the different Jewish denominations to make each conversion a real simcha, a celebration. Please be aware that only a rabbi or cantor can schedule an immersion for conversion.
For more information about conversion at Mayyim Hayyim please contact Mayyim Hayyim's Mikveh and Education Director.
The boundaries between "Jewish" and "not-Jewish" are not as clear today as they once seemed to be. According to a traditional understanding of Jewish law (halacha), a Jew is someone who was either born to a Jewish mother or who formally converted to Judaism. However, the Reform and Reconstructionist movements officially recognize as Jews anyone born to a Jewish father and raised with a Jewish identity and education. Given the discrepancy between these two points of view, some "patrilineal Jews" choose to immerse in a mikveh to turn aside challenges to their authenticity by satisfying the legal requirement for conversion.
However, in such cases, the term "conversion" can seem inappropriate and even hurtful to someone who has always identified as a Jew and lived a Jewish life. Today, many rabbis speak of the ceremony as an affirmation instead, since the immersee is not converting to Judaism but affirming his or her Jewish identity.