Project Genesis

Judaism and Non-Jews


Interested in Conversion

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns. I live in rural western North Carolina and I know, maybe, 6 Jewish people. And, unfortunately, the nearest temple is a 45-minute drive away…

First of all, Judaism doesn’t believe that there’s any imperative for a non-Jew to become Jewish. Perfection and closeness with God is possible for any human being. By definition, of course, it isn’t easy, but it’s available. You might want to look here for a description of the Torah’s expectations of all human beings.

Secondly, becoming a Jew carries with it a great burden. We haven’t been the most popular nation over the centuries (as you’ve no doubt noticed) and there’s no guarantee that things will always be as comfortable as they now are for us (at least in the West).

Further, while not all Jews are perfect in observing the commandments of the Torah, these commandments are fully binding nonetheless and negligence carries serious consequences – both in this world and the next. We who are born Jewish have no choice and must do the best we can, but to choose it for yourself (while an act of great idealism) is a huge risk.

The road to Judaism is a very difficult one. For a sincere individual, there is the potential for greatness and for some there might even be a sense of coming home. But it isn’t written anywhere that this is a road that must be taken or that there’s no other way to find our one God!

So I would suggest that your main task is surely to seek to enhance your belief in and love of our one God. You should examine all of the options (conversion being one of them) that lead to that greater belief. Should you decide to aim for eventual conversion, is a good place to start. Good books on Torah subjects can be acquired at and

But let me relate just a few words about the conversion process: Orthodox Judaism (as I’m sure you already know) believes that conversion consists of three elements: circumcision (for men), immersion in a Mikvah (ritual pool) and unreserved acceptance of all of the Torah’s commandments. This third requirement causes a conversion court the greatest difficulty, as its members must judge a candidate’s sincerity, knowledge and most fundamental psychological motivations. Yet the validity of the conversion rests entirely on this acceptance.

It’s for this reason that (as is probably obvious to you) you won’t find easy access to responsible Orthodox conversion courts on the Internet. No one wants to become a “clearing house” for conversions because that would compromise the vitally important personal contact necessary to judge a candidate’s sincerity.

There are, however, organizations and individuals that, for many reasons, feel it their mission to convert anyone who asks regardless of the social or personal context of the request – often without even a hint of commitment to observance. Obtaining a conversion through such a court (even if you’re entirely and honestly dedicated to Torah practice and values) will leave a cloud of doubt over the “Jewishness” of both you and all your descendants. In other words, if you want to do it, you surely want to do it correctly.

With my very best wishes for your continued success in growth in faith,
Rabbi Boruch Clinton

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