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soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)
Section - Question 18.4.3: Fallacy: Reform Conversions take no study, and are for convenience only

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                                  Answer:
   
   Reform Judaism welcomes all sincere converts without regard to racial
   or national origin or to their former religious faith. In Reform
   Judaism, it is sufficient for the prospective convert (ger) to
   declare, orally and in writing, in the presence of a rabbi and no less
   than two lay leaders of the congregation and community, acceptance of
   the Jewish faith and the intention to live in accordance with its
   mitzvot. This declaration takes place after a preparatory period of
   study. The length of the period of preparation is determined by the
   rabbi, taking into consideration the time needed by the candidate for
   conversion to obtain the necessary understanding and appreciation of
   Judaism in order to make a free-will decision with respect to his/her
   acceptance of the Jewish faith and identification with the Jewish
   people.
   
   Reform recommends that the period of study be reinforced by requiring
   and assisting the prospective convert's active participation in the
   various celebrations, observances, and worship services of Judaism and
   the Jewish people. It recommends that regular attendance at synagogue
   worship, as well as evidence of concern for Jewish values and causes
   in the home and community, should be required. The intent of this is
   to enable the rabbi and his/her associates to satisfy themselves not
   only that the candidate has a sufficient knowledge of Judaism, but of
   even greater importance, that the candidate is a person of sincere and
   responsible character, who is genuinely desirous of making a
   wholehearted commitment to synagogue affiliation and to the Jewish
   faith and people.
   
   Note that the above items (study, attendance at services) are only
   recommendations. While the authors of the Reform teshuva affirm that
   such items should theoretically be considered a necessity, this is not
   necessary in practice if one claims to already have been living a
   Jewish life. The Reform rabbinate may presume that if such a claim is
   made, then the person doesn't need such a course.
   
   Reform does not require male converts to undergo b'rit milah
   (circumcision) or hatafat dam b'rit (the drawing of blood); nor does
   it require converts to have tevilah (ritual immersion). However, it
   recognizes that there are social, psychological, and religious values
   associated with these rituals, and it recommends that the rabbi
   acquaint prospective gerim with the halachic background and rationale
   for b'rit milah, hatafat dam b'rit, and tevilah, and offer them the
   opportunity, if they so desire, to observe these additional rites. In
   the UK, the ULPS requires circumcision for male converts, but does
   accept a pre-existing medical circumcision.
   
   Reform does not require kabbalaot al mitvot (accepting Jewish law as
   normative), especially as "Jewish law" is interpreted by the
   traditional communities. Reform does require an understanding of the
   ten commandments, the ethical mitvot, and a general understanding of
   other Jewish religious obligations.
   
   Note that, outside of the US, procedures may be even stricter. For
   example, in Vancouver CANADA, students study for a year before being
   considered for conversion. Converts undergo the mikvah, in the
   presence of three (3) rabbis. Men are required to to be circumsized,
   and are also required to undergo the ritual circumcision (letting of
   the blood).

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Top Document: soc.culture.jewish FAQ: Reform Judaism (10/12)
Previous Document: Question 18.4.2: Fallacy: Either patrilineal or matrilineal descent is accepted
Next Document: Question 18.4.4: Fallacy: Reform Judaism encourages intermarriage

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