Conversion Studies at Central Synagogue
Conversion Studies at Central Synagogue
Central Synagogue offers a holistic program through the Center for Exploring Judaism for anyone considering conversion to Judaism.
Conversion is a personal decision and journey; therefore, the process will differ for each candidate. We are here to facilitate every aspect of conversion for you—academic, pastoral, and communal—and we enthusiastically welcome you into our community.
Summary of the Conversion Process
1. Initial meeting with Rabbi Lisa Rubin, our Director of the Center for Exploring Judaism
In this introductory meeting, we will discuss your background and interest in Judaism and do our best to ascertain whether our program may be a good fit for you.
2. Enrollment in our Exploring Judaism course
Our course covers the foundations of Judaism: holidays, history, prayer, theology, and life cycle. A new class begins every other month and we meet weekly for a six-month period.
3. One-on-one meetings with Clergy
These regular meetings (during the six-month period of the Exploring Judaism course) are for individual guidance and mentorship.
4. Extended study after the course
Conversion candidates are encouraged to study with a rabbi as long as is needed to attain confidence with a basic “literacy” of Judaism. Time will vary with each student.
5. Completion of a conversion project and spiritual autobiography
Students are asked to complete two small projects toward the end of the conversion process.
6. Bet Din and Mikveh
A bet din (rabbinic court) will be assembled on the day of your conversion followed by a visit to the mikveh (ritual bath).
Frequently Asked Questions About Conversion in the Center for Exploring Judaism
Do I need to be a member of Central Synagogue before starting my conversion studies?
No. The Exploring Judaism class (with the accompanying guidance of a rabbi) is open to anyone, irrespective of membership standing.
May I take an introductory course elsewhere and still work with a rabbi from Central Synagogue toward my conversion?
No. It is not our practice to sponsor students studying elsewhere.
Is the Exploring Judaism class only for those interested in conversion?
No. It is open to anyone interested in exploring the Jewish faith. Our students are non-Jews and their Jewish partners, members of Central Synagogue and non-members, people who are certain they are going to convert and people who know they will not be converting (and everyone in between!).
If I sign up for the course, am I committing to convert?
No. There is no expectation (or agenda) that you will convert. Should you begin studying with the intention of converting, but realize it is not for you, you are still welcome to finish the course. Your individual meetings with the rabbi will help you flesh out issues pertaining to your decision whether to convert.
If I am considering conversion and my partner is Jewish, should my partner attend class with me?
Absolutely. This is strongly encouraged.
Wait—is this program only for couples?
No. While the majority of our students are coupled, every cohort has individuals, too. There is no single doorway into Judaism. For some, it’s romance. Don’t be deterred by the video highlighting couples. Everyone can find a comfortable place in our program.
What will we discuss in the regular individual meetings with a rabbi?
Anything you wish. For example, you might discuss issues that don’t come up in class, or ask questions that you don’t feel comfortable asking in a public forum. You may speak about issues of family and relationships, and the challenges that conversion may bring. Some students take the opportunity to further discuss certain topics that are covered in class, or get some extra practice with certain blessings. In short, these meetings provide one-on-one time with a rabbi for any guidance or teaching you may need.
How long does conversion take?
This will vary for each student, but the process is typically completed in 9 to12 months.
Can I participate in other activities at the synagogue while I am converting?
Absolutely. While studying with us, the synagogue is open to you and we hope that you’ll become a part of our community. We welcome you at our Shabbat and holiday services, and all other programming (adult education offerings, social action projects, etc.)
How do I get started?
Rabbi, Director of the Center for Exploring Judaism
(212) 838-5122 x5002