Things you’re still wondering.

We know. You have so many questions. Here are some of the ones we hear all the time.

What’s with your name?

In Hebrew the word for Jew by Choice is a ger, which means a person who sojourns. In English people use the word ‘convert’ for lack of a better term. Ger is a word that describes not only a person who chooses to be Jewish, but one who has a certain kind of mindset, who sees the world as a journey, as an unfolding story. The Hasidic thinkers even describe God as a ger. There’s a lot in that idea. We’ll talk about it.

I am not white and male. Will I be comfortable?

We sure hope so. We work with people and rabbis of all sexual orientation and gender expressions. Our participants claim a variety of racial identities. We also recognize that joining the Jewish family is a long, hard experience. We will inevitably step on one another’s toes or say the wrong thing and learn from each other. We ask people to be generous and assume the best in conversations, rather than be on the lookout for offenses.

What if I have political beliefs about the US or Israel that are different from yours, or from other people in the group?

We believe in real conversation. It is okay to disagree and do so respectfully in a way we can all learn. No one has to profess a specific political affiliation or belief. You just have to be willing to listen to other people.

Will you teach me to read Hebrew and other Judaism 101 stuff?

This program is not Judaism 101 or Hebrew instruction. We will cover a ton of material, but there are specific, concrete skills – like reading Hebrew, or a good overview of Jewish history – that are better done in a one on one or more academic setting. For folks in our Sojourners cohorts, we can point you to good resources.

I don’t believe in God and never will. Now what?

You’re not the first.  All of us, even our Rabbis have been there (and sometimes feel that way too).  One way to think about it is, are you willing to learn and explore?  If you can do that, you should be fine.  It’s not our job to sell or convince you, just help you see how wide and diverse the terrain of Jewish thought is.

Do you perform/officiate at weddings?

Sure do.

When will COVID end?

Seems like never, right?  You did the baking and home-organizing, and you supported the essential workers, time to explore Judaism, no?  What else can we do to get through this morass?

Will other rabbis accept my conversion?

We cannot speak for all rabbis everywhere.  Our conversions are widely accepted in almost any community you could find yourself in.  If this is of specific concern to you (for instance you are moving to Israel, or live in a Hasidic community) we can convene a specific Beit Din for this issue.

Are your conversions honored in Israel?

For the purposes of becoming a citizen of the state of Israel through the law of return, all our conversions are honored. For the purposes of being registered with the Interior ministry as a Jew, we have to convene a specific, traditional, Orthodox beit din. Israel’s Chief Rabbinate does not currently honor all conversions, only those of certain Orthodox clergy they certify. We find this reality troubling, and hope it will change. We actively support those who wish to make Israel a more religiously pluralistic society. For now, this is the reality we live in.

I have heard you need to turn away a person who wants to convert three times, are you going to do that?

We think you have gone through enough to get here. Let’s just make this as meaningful an experience as we can.

Will you provide me with documentation of my conversion?

Yes, both in print and digitally.

Why do Jews have horns?

Seriously?! You heard about this? We were sure that secret was well kept.