Mancom Talk: Requirements for Jews by Choice

Requirements for the Introduction to Judaism (conversion) Course – edited by Ilana Alroy

On Sunday 30 August, four of our Introduction to Judaism Students who had completed the course appeared before the Beth Din becoming our newest ‘Jews by Choice’ – Mazal Tov and Welcome!

We receive many enquiries about conversion to Judaism. It is not, as some might believe, a ‘quick fix’ to becoming a Jew for the purpose of participating in certain life-cycle events. It is a journey which involves a serious commitment on the part of candidates. It requires learning of knowledge and skills and for candidates to become part of the community. In order to help candidates achieve this in a reasonable time, Beit Emanuel provides formal support, such as tuition, and varied opportunities for learning and socializing with the community.

The requirements are set by the Rabbi and the Jewish Identity Committee for conversion to Judaism under the auspices of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ).

Candidates must attend classes in Jewish Knowledge and Hebrew where a minimum of 80% class attendance is required for a minimum period of 18 months. Partners are expected to support candidates by attending the classes. Classes are held on Wednesdays – 17h30-18h30 Hebrew lesson and 18h30 onwards the Introduction to Judaism. A light dinner is provided. If a candidate has a Jewish partner, the partner must become a member of Beit Emanuel.

Candidates (and partners, where applicable) must attend services at Beit Emanuel on Shabbat evenings and mornings. A minimum attendance of 80 Shabbat services is required during one’s candidacy. At least 30 of these must be on Shabbat morning.

Candidates must attend all the evening and daytime services of the major Jewish festivals at least once during their candidacy. These are:

Pesach, including the BE Communal Seder; Shavuot; Sukkot; Rosh Hashanah; Yom Kippur.

Attendance at minor days is required as follows: Evening service of Shabbat during Chanukah; Evening of daytime service of Purim (depending on which day the festival falls); Service for Tisha b’Av; Selichot service on an evening prior to Rosh Hashanah.

Candidates should attend educational activities organized by BE to supplement their classes. These include weekly Shabbat morning JTALKs with invited speakers, public lectures offered by BE, such as JFORUM and ‘shiurim’ (teaching sessions) by the Rabbi.

Candidates are strongly encouraged to attend the annual Limmud conference and must also take part in a tzedakah project (charity work) and assist at Shul functions.

For further information regarding costs etc. please contact the office

011 646 6170.


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