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Choosing Judaism

Judaism is not a missionary religion in that we do not actively seek converts, but as a community we do welcome those who wish to attach themselves to the Jewish faith in some way, especially if they already have a Jewish partner.  

We also recognise the important role that a willing and informed non-Jewish parent can have in supporting the Jewish upbringing of his or her Jewish child. Our ‘Understanding Judaism’ course on Tuesday evenings is open to all those who wish to learn or re-learn the basics of Jewish life and belief, whether born Jewish, converting to Judaism or neither.   

For those who do wish to convert to Judaism, this takes place according to the procedures of the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court) of the Movement for Reform Judaism and with the support of our Senior Rabbi as the ‘Sponsoring Rabbi’. There are several components to this process, which eventually leads to Jewish status (accepted by non-Orthodox communities the world over, as the Reform Movement in Great Britain is affiliated to the World Union of Progressive Judaism).  

As well as attending the Understanding Judaism class (usually for 4 terms), candidates are expected to learn to read Hebrew to a level that enables them to follow a service comfortably. Two levels of Hebrew classes are available on Tuesday evenings (before the Understanding Judaism class) and there are a number of small, informal groups within the congregation taking their Hebrew studies further and that meet at other times.  

The process of conversion is not just about Hebrew and Jewish studies, it is also a spiritual journey and one in which you become part of the congregation as well as the Jewish people. To this end, alongside developing a Jewish home life, you will need to attend synagogue regularly and should note that for festivals and High Holydays this will often involve taking time off work.

A common question is “how long does it take?” and most rabbis will be reluctant to give a precise answer. The truth is that it takes as long as it takes, and most people who have been through the process will tell you that their understanding of the process changed as they were going through it. All in all, as you need to have experienced the cycle of the Jewish calendar with the intention of converting, it would usually take at least 15 or 18 months. Importantly, couples should not plan a Jewish wedding in anticipation of the completed conversion as this creates an artificial deadline to the process.  

If you are interested in converting, please arrange to speak to Rabbi Paul Freedman and to visit the community to experience some services. (We also encourage you to visit other local communities to see how they differ and be sure that ours is the one in which you will feel most at home.) We have a support group of those who are ‘converting or recently-converted’ who will also be happy to answer questions or simply have a chat.   

Once you have started to ‘find your feet’ in the conversion class and the congregation, you can register formally with the Beit Din. When you are ready to apply for an appointment with the Beit Din (at least a year later) we will organise circumcision for male converts, in consultation with a mohel who is a member of the Association of Reform and Liberal Mohalim. The Beit Din is at the Sternberg Centre for Judaism in Finchley. There is a purpose-built mikveh on site for ritual immersion as part of the conversion.   

The whole process culminates with a formal ceremony of welcome into the community, which takes place at the first suitable service back at Radlett Reform and at which time you are given the Beit Din’s certificate of conversion. These occasions are a real celebration for the congregation; the joy and sense of achievement are shared by all those who have accompanied the convert on this most significant journey.   

Baruch Ha-ba – Welcome!


Please contact the synagogue office for further guidance or to arrange a time to speak with Rabbi Paul. We can be reached on 01923 856110 or by email: office@radlettreform.org.uk.

Fri, 14 June 2024 8 Sivan 5784