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There are many reasons why people convert to Judaism. For some they find an affinity with Jewish values, culture, traditions and Jewish people, others may have a Jewish partner and the couple wish for a Jewish wedding and/or to set up a Jewish home together; some may have family connections to Judaism that have been dormant but there is a genuine desire to explore.

Whatever your reasons for considering conversion, we recommend that you make contact with the synagogue to set up a meeting with the Rabbi. This will give you the chance to discuss your situation, and we would then be in the best position to advise you as to the best way forward.

For those who decide to explore the conversion process with us, we offer a programme, named Or Chadash (meaning ‘new light’, in Hebrew) lasting a minimum of a year. During that year our students are expected to attend weekly Access to Judaism classes (click here for the 2019-20 brochure), as well as festivals and also regular attendance at Shabbat services which offers a further opportunity to become familiar with the rituals, prayers and music of our services. Those on our programme are also encouraged to become involved in community life, helping out at our events and lending their skills to the community whatever they may be. This is an excellent way to get to know our synagogue and our community. We also expect our conversion students to learn Hebrew, the language of our forefathers and of the synagogue service. For this reason we help students to find Hebrew tuition, whether with one of our groups, online or private tuition if that is seen to be the best option.

Not all who join our course do so with the intention of converting, and there is not an obligation to convert if one does join the course. On the one hand some people who join may do so only in order to learn about the religion of their partner, for others, they may decide that converting is not in the end the right choice for them. The year of the programme provides the chance to become well acquainted with Judaism and to make the choice as to whether conversion is the right decision. Although the programme is a minimum of a year, many of our students take longer, for various reasons. In any case, we will always be here to support you with the process.

Those who do decide to convert, when they are ready, will go before either the Reform or Liberal Beth Din (Rabbinic Board), for an interview. There are slightly different requirement for each which is something that Rabbi Thomas and our staff are happy to discuss. Again, we would be very happy to accompany you on these emotional days and provide the support that you may need. Following Jewish status being officially conferred, there is then the option of a short ceremony to mark acceptance of the faith. These, very moving occasions consist of a few prayers and may take place on a Shabbat morning, a Friday night or at another time.

For more information, please contact the Synagogue Office.

Sun, 16 February 2020 21 Sh'vat 5780